Juan, Marta's brother, heard of our hike up the mountain. He called to say he wanted to go. I didn't mind going back. I'd get a chance to take some pictures. So this morning Mo and I piled into Juan's van, along with a few of his nephews, and Angelo, his English-speaking friend. Having a driver saved us the walk through Alajuelita, and the early start gave us plenty of time. It was a much more relaxed pace. We took our time to enjoy the view and the fresh air.
The trail was practically empty, so we didn't have to worry about holding anyone up. Despite a few rough spots, it was an altogether enjoyable hike. Unfortunately, the clouds were thick, so the view was a bit obscured.
We made it to the 3rd cross, the peak, in about 3 hours. We stopped to have some food and water and just hang out for awhile. I learned that Angelo used to live in Texas, is retired from the military, and is married to a Costa Rican. He used to come here for vacations, so it was an easy decision for him to retire here. We talked about all the things we've grown to love about Costa Rica: the coffee, the bus system, the food, the friendly people, the beaches, the fresh fruit, the beautiful women, the comfortable pace. I know I'll miss all of these things when I return to the States.
After everyone was refreshed, we started our journey home. Juan led us down a different path, through some thick forests and across a few farms. It was so peaceful and beautiful! There was noone else around for miles. It was just us and the cows. The price of this tranquility was a more dangereous hike. There were some spots where a missed step would mean tumbling down the mountain. We were rewarded with a magnificent pastoral view.
We managed to make our way down with only a couple of minor incidents. At one point we came to a fork in the road and nobody was sure which path to take. Juan made a few frantic phone calls, but reception was too bad to complete a conversation. Finally we asked a couple of townspeople for directions and we were back to civilization in no time.
It is on days like this that I feel like I'm experiencing the "real" Costa Rica. This isn't something a tourist would do during a week's vacation. This trail isn't listed in any guidebook that I've read. I wouldn't have known about it had I not made friends with my Tico family. It was a great opportunity, and a memorable adventure.