March 30: Albergue de Montana Savegre (aka Cabinas Chacon)
breakfast and on the road by 6:45 a.m which made Charlie happy. He
carefully counted noses as he told us the story of once losing a
participant. That group was larger than ours, he confided. We
bumped our way along the dirt road making frequent stops for bird
sightings, including the turquoise browed mot-mot which was spectacular.
route took us across the Pan American Highway to the Coast Highway.
We could see the Pacific Ocean at times and when we came to the Taracoles
River we stopped to see the American crocodiles that sun themselves along
for better look at several American crocodiles
We got a lecture about crossing the highway as a group.
Drivers in Costa Rica do not yield the right of way to pedestrians, they
use them for target practice! Shortly afterward we took another dirt
road, although not quite as rough as the one from Monteverde. We
passed through plantations of bananas and palms that are grown for their
oil. The palm nuts that are crushed for the oil were interesting to
see. This dirt road took us to Rancho Casa Grande where Charlie had
arranged for us to have lunch. Another delicious meal of salad,
seabass, vegetables, rice and beans. The tastiest thing was the
drink we were served - a refresco made of soursop fruit blended with
grounds of the Casa Grande were lovely. The trees and shrubs were in
flower, the pool was pristine and the pet green parrot kept us
entertained. During the meal a troop of squirrel monkeys stopped by
for a bite to eat at the feeder where the restaurant owner puts tidbits
for them. All too soon we had to depart. There was still a
goodly distance to travel and Charlie wanted us at our destination before
next stop was in San Isidro de El General for fuel. This was the
time that Charlie raced to a drugstore to buy the sulfur soap for us.
Those bars of soap were really useful. Also it was here that we
rejoined the Pan American Highway. Traffic was heavy and the road
was full of twists and turns but Luis guided the bus safely to the turn
off dirt road that led down into the valley along the Savegre River.
Night had fallen as we reached our destination - 220 miles and 11.5 hours
after we had begun. It was not a difficult day because we had a bus
with air conditioning, a super driver, a guide who kept us busy with
sightings, and many interesting stops along the way.
had a great dinner of trout from the Savegre River that passes
through the Chacon property, lots of wonderful vegetables and black beans
and rice with flan for dessert. The food is delicious and healthy.
7,200 feet altitude, the air is quite chilly at night and in the early
morning. Our rooms were equipped with small space heaters which were
very welcomed. Each morning I laid my shirt over the heater before
putting it on.
March 31: Albergue de Montana Savegre
a beautiful place! We are staying on a family farm surrounded by
highland cloud forest. It is owned by Don Efrain Chacon who in 1955
bushwhacked his way through 50 kilometers of forest to the site where the
farm now stands. The hillsides are dotted with apple and pear
orchards as well as old growth forests. If we are to see another
quetzal, this is where it will be.
joined for a cup of coffee at 6 a.m. before getting into the bus and
heading to an area where one of the family members had told Charlie we
might find resplendent quetzals. They have recently been coming to
this particular spot. And come they did! Both a male and female, to
eat the wild avocados in the forest. The spotting scope was set up
and we all had a very good look at these beautiful birds. Now the
self-imposed pressure was off of Charlie’s shoulders.
will wonder what is so special about this particular bird. A member
of the trogon family, the resplendent quetzal was a symbol of freedom and
independence to some indigenous Central American people. It thrives
in high mountainous regions of Costa Rica. Beautiful beyond belief,
this fantastic iridescent bird with its blue-green head, neck and body and
its crimson belly will take your breath away on first sight. The
male sports very long tail streamers which flutter sensuously as he sits
in a wild avocado tree. The birds are endangered because of
destruction of their habitat. And they will not live in captivity so
you will never see one in a zoo or aviary.
we headed back to the Lodge for breakfast and our next adventure.
At 9 a.m., two four-wheel drive vehicles arrived to take us to the top of
the mountain for our morning hike. One of the vehicles was driven by
Don Efrain himself! It made me proud to shake the hand of this
gentleman who had struggled with much adversity to develop his farm on
this mountainside. Even though he is reported to be in his mid-70s,
one would never suspect it.