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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Costa Rica: Monteverde and the Steep Stairs

The place Jellybean and I stayed in when we went to Monteverde was great, or it would have been if it weren't for the stairs, the drive, my arthritis, and my fear of falling. The place is called the Rainbow Valley Inn. The inn is on the outskirts of Santa Elena, which is the town next to the Monteverde cloud forest reserve.

Rolf, the Minnesotan owner, built a two-story building down the slope from his house, with a room and bath on each floor. It's great, set on the side of a steep valley, with a view of the continental divide across the way. The patio is where I spent a lovely morning reading, looking at the view, and listening to the quiet.

Rolf was a fantastic host. He took us into town in his truck, to give us a personal tour of all three of the streets. Whenever I wanted to go into town, he drove me in. He also got up at ungodly hours to deliver Jellybean to her bird guide.

The catch was that to get to our room, we had to walk down a very steep gravel driveway, then a fairly long stairway of nice flagstone steps. I got around the driveway by having taxis drive down it when they dropped me off. On the stairs, I was very, very careful, and when I returned after dark I had the taxi driver walk me down.

You see, there were no railings. And if I slipped, it was going to be a long, long tumble down into that valley, with plenty of time to contemplate my imminent demise.

Now, I knew the place was built on the side of the hill because I'd looked at the website before Jellybean booked it. But I just assumed, naively, that there would be something to hold on to on the way down, like a railing. To me, every step felt as if I were standing on a precipice, about to pitch over.

It got better each day, as I got used to it and my leg muscles got stronger and gave me better support. But nice as Monteverde was, it was another town I was glad to leave.

Jellybean, in the meantime, is having a great time hiking around in the jungle and adding birds to her life list.

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