Thursday, June 01, 2006
The road up the mountain from Liberia is a little better than the road up the mountain coming from San Jose. I imagine that the distinction might be lost on a lot of newcomers who probably ask themselves "They call this a road?!". The turnoff to Monteverde is about 2 hours from Liberia on the Inter American Highway; it's a left hand turn shortly after crossing Rio Abangares and passing the right hand turn to Amistad Bridge. There's a small square white concrete bus stop on the left at the corner, with a sign pointing to Las Juntas de Albangares.
The road up the mountain at first is deceptively good; it's paved and striped and only starts to deteriorate as it passes through Las Juntas. Follow the signs through Las Juntas for Santa Elena and Monteverde. In a leafy, shady part of town you will pass by a public park with an old gold mining train (gold is still mined in Las Juntas!). Keep an eye out for a sign on the right that will indicate a left hand turn to Monteverde. You will then pass over a narrow bridge and keep to the right while passing the blue statues of the miners in the middle of the rotary.
Once you pass through Las Juntas the road is paved for a only a short distance, and then you'll be driving a lot slower to avoid hitting potholes, knows as huecos. This is the green season, which means that it is raining a lot almost every day and the water is hard on the roads. It will take about an hour to get from the highway to Santa Elena. The views when you ascend the mountain are breathtaking, and worth the bad road you have to take to get there. There's a reason the store in town sells a popular t shirt that says: "I survived the road to Monteverde!". One of the first businesses you pass is the Don Juan Coffee Tour. From here, it is another few mintues to the center of Santa Elana.