In the morning about 4:45AM when we woke up, the pain in my foot had dulled from a sharp pain with most movements to a duller, richer pain, mainly when putting weight on it or twisting it. It wasn't going to be a good day for walking. We got a cab from the hostel to the San Carlos bus terminal where a large VW passenger bus was waiting with the word "MONTEVERDE" across the top of the front window. The ride took us about two and a half hours up the main Central America highway, which is two lanes in most places. We passed many billboards, lots of sodas (roadside restaurants and rest stops), and acres of green vegetation. It wasn't too crowded, and despite making several stops to pick up more passengers, I was able to get my own pair of seats for a lot of the way, letting me stretch out and rest my foot. After a twenty minute stop at a restaurant for bathroom break and refreshments, we headed out again, this time turning on the long dirt road that winded around the mountains to get to Santa Helena, the main tourist town in Monteverde. The ride was an experience; we got tossed around pretty well on the bus, and made frequent stops to let trucks and other vehicles pass us on the narrow road. We hit a snag at one point, requiring several oncoming vehicles to back up to let the bus through. Still, around 11AM, we got to there, and Annelies's friend from college Beka was at the bus stop waiting for us.
Lunch was in one of the restaurants in Santa Helena, a nice place that served up a tasty plate of casado vegetarinos; red beans, white rice, avocado, green beans, and plantain. Beka and her boyfriend did some grocery shopping at the supermercado, then we hailed a taxi for the 6km ride to Monteverde proper (the town, rather than the region). They had a beautiful house on the side of the mountain with an amazing view of the hills. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Bay of Nicoya, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. They have lemon and orange trees in their yard, and they're a short, but muddy, hike away from the nature preserve.
I spent the afternoon taking in the scenery, reading, and napping on their couch while Annelies went with them on a walk to the local coffee shop and to see the school where Beka teaches. Later, we had a little party here, inviting one of Beka's fellow teachers over to enjoy a meal of pasta and vegetables, and then play "Celebrity". It was a very pleasant evening, with good company and lots of stories.
This morning, my foot looks pretty black and blue, but it's more walkable than yesterday, so I've taken some Aleve and we're going to head to the preserve to take the slow trail, see lots of animals, and take more pictures. Tonight, a hotel room in Santa Helena with good showers and a visit to the local vegetarian restaurant.