Friday, June 08, 2007

On The Way To Monteverde

Monteverde, is a small town in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Monteverde was founded in 1950 by Quakers. Costa Rica abolished their army in 1948 and Quakers, being pacifists, decided that this would be a good place to settle. Monteverde means "green cheese" and gets its name from a variation of Monterey Jack cheese that the Quakers make but which quickly turns green in the moist climate.

Hah, fooled you didn't I. It actually does mean "green cheese" but that is because the Quakers moved to Costa Rica from Wisconsin, famous for both its cheese and their football team, The Packers, who wear green uniforms. The Quakers, being big football fans, would often wear Packer shirts and cheese on their heads so the locals took to calling them Monteverdes.

A Cheesehead

Okay, so I lied again. Monteverde really means Green Mountain and, given the location of the town, it is easy to see why. The part about it being founded by Quakers in 1950 was true though, and they do make and sell cheese there. It is also true that Costa Rica has had no army since 1948 and, by and large, the Quakers moved there for that reason as well as to avoid the draft for the Korean war. How many of them came from Wisconsin I do not know.

The night before we headed to Monteverde I did make it into a little town to have a beer and to provide a requisite picture of me drinking in a bar.

Don Fernando Bar & Restaurant

There wasn't much going on in this town but this place was packed. There were stools on the street where you could get a drink but they were full so I had to go inside. The bar was packed in there as well, but I did manage to jam myself in and have a beer.

Jam and Beer

I couldn't stay long because the next day we had an early start and a long ride, both boat and bus.

We set our bags out early to be picked up and put on the bus. The bus would drive around Lake Arenal and pick us up on the other side after we took a boat.

Heading To The Boat

Getting On The Boat

On The Boat

Lake Arenal has been enlarged to about three times its original size to form a basin for a hydroelectric project that now produces about 70% of Costa Rica's electricity. A couple of towns were flooded for this project so it was kind of like a mini-TVA project.

The bus trip around the lake takes much longer than the boat ride and the roads are kind of thrilling. Not much room for error and plenty muddy as well.

No Shoulders

Along the way I saw a sight that gladdened my heart.

Cold Beer

Luckily this was where we would stop for lunch.

A Little Luncheonette

Not only did they serve really good local fare (rice and beans, chicken, fish, pork, and vegetables) they also had a nice little bar area.

Bar Man Doing What He Does Best

Be forewarned, however, if you don't have the money to pay for your meal they have something much worse than washing dishes in store for you.

Working Off My Meal

We really were crushing sugar cane to extract the juice so we could all take a taste. Images from White Zombie, a great movie staring Bela Lugosi, kept flashing through my mind.

Tomorrow I shall post a bit more about Monteverde and the Cloud Forest.

1 comment:

James said...

I love your blog and was delighted to read about your Costa Rican adventures. My wife and I went with a couple of friends last year and had an amazing time there. "The Road To Monteverde" was a recurring joke for us because to the horrendous condition of said road both in and out of the beautiful town.