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The Road From Hell Leads To Heaven: Driving to Monteverde   1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 

18 Nov 2001

MONTEVERDE, COSTA RICA — After two straight days of rain here in La Fortuna, and no sign of movement from the clouds, we decided to give up on trying to see any of Volcan Arenal. (We've bought a couple of postcards and tried sticking them to our shades, but it's not the same.) So we got into our car and aimed ourselves west, to go around the lake, headed for Nuevo Arenal, and eventually Monteverde.

First, we had to stop at the little police shack to ask if the road around the lake was passable. The officer didn't speak english, so Erin did her best to convey our needs. The kind gentleman wiped his mouth and put his breakfast down on the primitive stone oven in the "back" room, then told us the road was not passable. The portion between La Fortuna and arenal was out, due to a rockslide, but the rest of it was okay. So he did show us an alternate route on the map that wasn't too bad. This required us to drive just east of La Fortuna, then cut north and west to catch up with a road that went down to Nuevo Arenal. Granted, calling this a "road" is being generous, but it's about right for Costa Rica.

So we headed out of town with our crappy map, and after a brief debate at a road sign, determined which was the road we wanted. After about 30 minutes, the pavement disappeared, so we switched into four-wheel drive, then gritted our teeth preparing for the worst. The good news was that it only lasted about two minutes, but that bad news was because that's when we saw the sign that read "NO HAY PASO"...then saw why. A big mud slide had apparently taken out a formidable chunk of the road, and even though it was short enough that we could see the other side, we got out and walked part of the way, and determined that our little four-wheel drive Daihatsu wasn't likely to make it.

So we backtracked a few miles and took a different fork in the road. (For those keeping track, we're now on the alternate alternate route.) This time, the pavement gave out pretty quickly, and we were effectively driving on piles of rocks. We stopped in a town (two buildings) to ask the locals if this road was passable, and they insisted it was...or at least, we think that's what they said, as we're not sure they knew what we were asking. But they nodded affirmatively, and waved ahead with their hand. So onward we went.

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Last updated: 22 Nov 2001 15:14:29