Backpacking Monteverde, Costa Rica

I stepped from the main terminal of Liberia airport with a backpack, a pack of gum and the determination to make my way to Monteverde rainforest without the help of a taxi. I waited for a local bus at the curb and passed 500 Colones to the driver. He was wearing sunglasses and an unbuttoned shirt. I took a seat and sank beneath the humidity. We turned down an unpaved road, and two small boys chased after us while pointing squirt guns at our open windows. I took another stab at reviving my dead cellphone, and wondered where we were going.

Three local bus transfers and six hours later, I was walking the streets of Monteverde. I regrouped with some Israeli friends I had met along the way, and we climbed the stairs of a treehouse restaurant to toast my birthday. I traded $10 for one night's stay at Monteverde Backpackers where the owner passed me a key, a towel, and a shot of Costa Rican rum to celebrate 28.

The next morning, I left for the Santa Elena Rainforest reserve just as the sun was rising. After one half hour shuttle ride and hot coffee to go, I was dropped at the trailhead and began jogging to offset the cold. The trails were deserted at the early hour, and I found myself wandering alone beneath canopies of green, climbing outposts for tree top views and standing audience to the strangest symphonies of sound.

After seven hours of hiking, I settled into a Monteverde café and wrote while rain fell outside the open doorway. Hammocks were hung in curious places, coffee was being crafted and cookies baked. In that moment, I fell in love with the place.