After four hours of driving up a twisty mountain, we finally made it to Monteverde! On our long, frightening bus ride, we passed through two different areas of Costa Rica: the Pacific coast and the mountain rainforest. I have grown accustomed to the hustle and bustle of Heredia and San Jose, where the streets are lined with houses, businesses, and people. However, the areas outside the Central Valley live very different lifestyles than those I have been exposed to thus far.
As we drove towards the Pacific coast, I quickly observed the contrast of tranquil people and greater property area, with houses more spread apart. Rather than running around to the next destination, Ticos were relaxing in chairs outside of stores which was a refreshing change of pace after our last few days. There are also an abundance of fruit stands on both sides of the street and stores selling crafts, furniture, and pool equipment. Although I only got a glimpse of the coastal way of living, it embodies more of the “Pura Vida” mindset.
The communities appeared even more remote as we drove further through the mountains and got closer to Monteverde. It became more rural, but many of the houses were larger than those in Heredia. The greater land allowed these homeowners to have farms with a wide array of animals such as horses, cows, chickens and more! However, once we arrived at the mountain top of Monteverde, civilization slowly crawled back. In comparison to Heredia, the weather is much cooler, nature is more preserved, and many stores cater more to tourists. Being so high in altitude, the temperature feels about ten degrees cooler and the rainfall is harder than I’ve ever experienced in this country. The natural forest, moreover, is conserved well which makes the views breathtaking and more appealing to me. Multiple stores also sell souvenirs and are marketed more towards tourists, with banners and signs in English.
Overall, my view of Costa Rica has changed slightly. I am amazed at how diverse this small country is and how many similarities it has with the United States; different regions have distinct lifestyles. There is so much to explore, I cannot wait to experience Monteverde for the next couple of days!