Friday was a LONG day in the bus. We spent the better part of the day driving up to Monteverde. The thing with driving in Costa Rica isn´t that it´s long distances between town or locations. It´s just that the roads are so windy and the speed limit is no more than 60 km an hour. So it takes a LOT of time getting from A to B. Also the trip up to Monteverde is a one way in and one way out type of deal. And once you get to the mountains it turns into gravel...and a lot of switchbacks and long drops. And then when you think you´ve gotten to the top...you go higher and higher and higher. The view of the bay only gets better and better the higher you go up becase you´re getting a better and better viewpoint. When we finally got to the top of the hill and into Monteverde we all breathed a sigh of releif as we were back on hard top roads.
Monteverde was founded in the 1950´s by a group of about 50 Quakers that came from Alabama. They left Alabama to avoid the peace-time draft. They pretty much found a piece of land that no one claimed or owned and said, ¨This is ours.¨¨ and now there´s Monteverde. There are some families that basically claimed over 500 acres of land just by saying so. Still today there is a good population of Quakers that live on the land.
First we went to eat, then we made a couple of stops. The first was to the CASEM Co-op. CASEM is an organization formed to give Costa Rican women a way to utilize their craftmanship skills and gain financial independence. Everything that they sell at the Co-op is hand made by Costa Rican women. It´s not like a sweat shop or anything. There´s everything from beadwork jewelry, to hand sewn table clothes, to hand painted portraits. It´s a very interesting place to be.
Next we were off the to Monteverde Cheese Factory. Unfortunately we came in at the end of the day and couldn´t get a tour. BUT there was a tour ending when we got there an I got in on some juicy facts. One is that they do just over $15 million worth of sales each year...and less than 1% of that is to the U.S. Almost all of it is to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama. Not bad for a cheese factory tucked into the back 40 of Costa Rica.
After that we checked in to our hotel, then grabbed a good lunch at a hole in the wall restaraunt. Then I took two games of three handed Cribbage from Clyde and Steve M. It was a long day, but a good day.