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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hammocks, Horses and Crazy Geese

A milestone: Fabulista de Costa Rica has now passed the 50,000 all-time page view mark! A big thank you to my loyal readers!!

Time to bring you up to date on our busy lives here in Costa Rica. I say "Costa Rica" instead of Santa Eulalia because we traveled last week to a different part of the country, the Monteverde area, to enjoy Bonnie's 60th birthday with her and Stephen at a beautiful secluded rancho. Monteverde is a popular tourist destination, a remote mountain region of misty cloud forest, centered in the small town of Santa Elena almost 4700' above sea level. The weather there is chilly and predictably rainy much of the year. Fortunately for us, after one night in Santa Elena, we spent our next three nights some 3000 feet lower - though only 18 kilometers away - near the small village of Guacimal at Rancho El Rio, a working ranch and rental cottage located along the banks of a river, where the days were warm and sunny and nights crisply cool. 

Rancho el Rio

Bonnie and Stephen had discovered this little paradise by virtue of their friendship with the owners, Veronica and Alex Alvarado, who also own Casa Cielo, an A-frame cabin further up the mountain with spectacular views of the Gulf of Nicoya. Casa Cielo was the first place Stephen and Bonnie stayed when they arrived in Costa Rica two years ago and they quickly became friends with their charming hosts. With Bonnie's big birthday coming up, we all decided Rancho El Rio would be an ideal place to celebrate.

Hammock-time for Yours Truly
If snoozing in a hammock to the sounds of a rushing river, communing with chickens, geese and horses, hiking through pastures or relaxing with a book on a patio swing are your idea of a holiday, then Rancho El Rio is a great choice. Veronica and Alex have spent the last few months renovating a dilapidated cottage on the 112-acre property, creating a comfortably rustic and handicapped-accessible retreat. Bonnie and Stephen, who had seen the building before its overhaul, were amazed at the transformation. 

Geese pay a visit - watch out for that gander!
With a focus on environmentally friendly construction, the Alvarado's have built a snug two-bedroom, two-bath bungalow with a broad patio overlooking the river and a big open-air kitchen fully equipped for a comfortable stay. Having stocked up on food in Santa Elena and with Stephen's excellent cooking skills (with a little help from the rest of us), we took full advantage of the barbeque unit as well as the ranch fruits, which Veronica supplied on our first day. Other than my having to fight off the aggressive gander once or twice, our days were relaxing and tranquil. 
Stephen readies the BBQ 
Layne mounted and ready to ride
The highlight of the trip for me was our Thursday morning horseback ride with Veronica to explore the ranch. The couple has a string of mostly rescued horses that with their wrangler Memo's help, they have brought back to health and trained to be reliable but energetic mounts for guests. 

The Palomino mare I rode, Soñadora (Dreamer), was their newest addition and although she was still thin to my way of thinking, she was an enthusiastic partner as we cantered up the hills or trotted along in that smooth Paso Criollo gait. For me, there's nothing like the view from the back of a horse!
View from aboard Soñadora
Bonnie gets inspiration from "Spirit Rock"
We wound our way up a long hill to an unusual rock formation, a huge monolith sprouting straight up out of a level plain. We mulled the mystery of that rock in that position and agreed it was a very special place. After an hour or so of exploration, looking at the baby water buffaloes and the herd of cattle, we made our way to the river, tied up the horses, changed into shorts and waded out into the rocks for a cooling dip in the rushing waters. Wow! What fun!
Bonnie & Veronica - ride 'em Cowgirls!
A refreshing dip in the river 
Afterwards, I helped Veronica and Memo with the unsaddling and then led Soñadora to where dozens of ripe mangos lay on the ground. Veronica joined me with her horse Raya and we laughed as we watched the horses gobble up the delicious sweet fruits. Oddly, Costa Rican horses don't seem to like carrots (I've offered them to several), but they sure love mangos!

The next morning I took a long solitary hike along the dirt road and enjoyed the pastoral scenery of white cattle grazing on steep hillsides.
Along the way, I noticed a gorgeous Turquoise-browed Motmot in a tree down below and tried to get a good shot. Then I looked up and saw two of them perched just above me on the telephone line and another half dozen in trees nearby. Slightly smaller than the ones we have around our house in Santa Eulalia, they were still stunning with their iridescent green and blue coloring and distinctive long tail. 

The ubiquitous Iguanas were also easy to spot, such as this guy crossing the road in front of me.

He scurried up the steep side of the hill and disappeared into the roots of a large tree that seemed almost suspended above me.
Layne and I hiked along the river
The incredible variety and abundance of wildlife in Costa Rica continues to amaze us and we feel lucky to have opportunities like this to enjoy it.

Check out Layne's book "Moral Turpitude," available for only $2.99 at High adventure with corporate intrigue, danger and romance; from the exotic jungles of Borneo and Costa Rica to the erotic jungles of San Francisco. Sample or purchase at -- 


1 comment:

  1. I can't belive all the exploring you do and all the fun you have. Hope to start our own adventures soon.

    Tom & Dina Duffy