Our day consisted mainly of driving. We moved from the rain-forest down to the dry forest, watching trees turn to starkly open farm land. Pineapples, plantain, cattle and more dominated the landscape. We stopped for a bathroom break (we needed plenty as we are drinking about twice the amount as we were used to) at a lovely park full of fantastically sculpted bushes. It looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Lots of fun to walk through. Lunch was delicious but nothing new. It wasn't until we stopped just before we turned off the main road onto the road towards Monteverde that we exited the bus in the true dry forest. It was over ninety with pounding sun. Two of our professors, probably in a move to make us really understand how it felt to work in the fields in this type of weather, took us to the side of the road an made us stand there for half an hour as they talked about pineapple farming. People, I thought I was going to pass out. I kid you not. I am a pale-skinned northerner from a snowy nation, this heat/sun thing is not my scene. Lesson well learned professors, lesson very well learned. We had seen many families swimming in rivers we had driven past and now I understood why. We rushed to use the bathroom and climbed back onto the air-conditioned bus in record time.
The next part of our ride was bumpy and beautiful. We climbed up the side of the mountains toward the cloud forest where we would make our home for the next few months. At one point we paused at an overlook where we could see over a hundred to the Gulf of Nicoya and the hills on the other side of it. Truly, it was a spectacular sight. It took us about an hour more to reach Santa Elena, the moderate sized town one down from Monteverde where our professors apparently live. I say apparently because as we reached the town, the bus pulled over and our beloved and most chatty professor stood up. We thought he was going to make a big speech about us arriving but he just grabbed his bags, called out a quick goodbye, letting us know that he was headed to Mexico for a week and would not be seeing us until he got back. Peace out. We were all a bit shell shocked, it was the least he had ever said in one go. (Please understand I mean this in the kindest way. I adore him, we all do, and he has so much knowledge to share and is willing to do so.) Then as we were just beginning to process the fact that he was gone the bus pulled over again and the rest of our professors piled out with quick goodbyes and promises to see us sometime in the next week or so. We were shell shocked. We arrived shortly there after at the place where we were to sleep that night. We unloaded in unusual silence, as we were still processing the loss of the professors who had been a constant for the past week and the fact that we were to meet our host families here in less than twenty-four hours. As we were heading down to our rooms, we were told that our coordinator would be leaving as well, just for the night, and that our beloved driver would be returning to San Jose and that we wouldn't see him again. To say we felt set adrift and abandoned would be to severely understate.
Though the cabins were very comfortable, we couldn't really enjoy them as much as they deserved. With four hammocks and a beautiful view of the setting sun, it was gorgeous. I walked around back where there was a path leading into the forest. Beautiful birds fluttered about in the branches, bright plumage flashing in the fading light of the evening. A brilliant flash of red caught my attention, a large woodpecker with a crimson head, striped wings and a pale beak hopped purposefully on the side of a short tree. Had I been in the States I would have taken a ton of pictures and run screaming to the nearest natural history museum that I had seen an Ivory Billed Woodpecker. As I was in Costa Rica I merely consulted the next bird book I encountered. The bird I saw was a Pale Billed Woodpecker. Still, it was ten feet from me and quite the sight to see.
After dinner, several of us headed down to a cafe to have a cup of coffee (or not, in my case). We talked, joked and enjoyed ourselves for over an hour, we have a great group of people and though we all have some overlapping knowledge, many of us know lots of things about really random topics. We moved from talking about the psychology of Bronies (and I learned the word Pegasister) to the anatomy of rosemary to a very tangential conversation about color preferences. It was fun. After, we walked slowly back to our cabins and turned in for the night.