More Upcountry Fun at Arte de Plumas

As predictable as sunrise, the fog filled the valleys every afternoon. You could see it coming from afar, like a cottony beast.

We spent five nights at Arte de Plumas (see our previous post), settling into a delicious routine of breakfast, birdwatching, lunch, down time, more birdwatching from the back deck as the fog rolled in, dinner, and bed. The staff was easygoing, and accommodating and the food was flush with fresh fruit and vegetables.

We walked up to the lodge and back towards town I don’t know how many times, mostly in search of the elusive Sunbittern, which we finally all saw on the road ahead of the car as we were driving away towards our next destination.

Carrie and I enjoyed two hikes up the road above the lodge and it was fun to look down upon Arte de Plumas nestled like a solitary gem in the lush forest.

Our bedrooms were airy and bright—that’s them on the right. There was a huge wooden floored, lounging room upstairs—that’s the black part of the lodge—featuring screened louvered windows above a wall of glass with a sliding door that led onto the roof. I spent a fair amount of time up there absorbing the natural light and air, answering emails and going through photos while the Oropendolas chortled outside.

We parked down below the lodge. I’m not gonna lie, it took all my strength to move my bags up towards our rooms. No matter what I pretend to be, I am not at all a youngster anymore.

As predictable as sunrise, the fog filled the valleys every afternoon. You could see it coming from afar, like a cottony beast. It reminded me of the fog rolling over the lip of San Francisco’s Candlestick Park one evening while Bob and I were perched on the other side of the stadium.

Carrie never went anywhere without her binoculars. What a good birder!

On this particular walk, we noticed a Great Kiskadee toting a wad of moss.

We followed bird’s gaze to a nearby nest. Up north, nest making is a seasonal activity, but it appears that nest building and maintenance never ceases here in the tropics.

Bob is the perfect model for the Hempsmith tie dye line, adding one more shade of green to an already dazzling spectrum of color.

Like the birds, the groundskeepers never stop putting in new plants. I watched in fascination as one of the men sunk a shovel into the earth to reveal soil as rich as coffee grounds. When I watched him grasp the handles of his wheelbarrow, I felt a longing for the garden chores awaiting me back home.

I’m not the best tourist, truth be told. We all need a purpose, and being waited on is not mine. I must have inherited this from my mother’s mother, Doris Dunton. My grandmother worked into her mid-eighties, suffered a stroke while in the service of a disabled woman, and spent the last three months of her life being cared for by family. Dependency was difficult for grandma, but my mother was thrilled for the opportunity to show her mother that she was loved, not for what she did, but for who she was.

Speaking of ceaseless activity, Andre kept the bird feeders stocked with bananas and other delights. When he wasn’t leading bird tours, Andre shopped for the lodge, or did the bookkeeping. “You’re running this place!” I said, and he smiled saying, “They do all the work,” gesturing towards Daisy and Carol. So, I thought, well, if they are the engine, then you are the soul of Arte de Plumas. You can see his photography skills and  deep love of birds on his instagram account @andrey_featherlife.

Carrie, Lyle, and Andre scouting the grounds for new birds.

All we had to do was stand on the deck and wait for the birds to come.

Or sit and relax until Andre said, “Bird.”

Silver hair has become quite fashionable. Good thing, ’cause that’s what we’ve got. I found a friend in Carrie, she was good company, a great conversationalist, insightful and kind.

Bob enjoyed practicing his Spanish with Carol. They made each other laugh.

One afternoon, Bob climbed the hill above the lodge.

This is the lodge from above. Looks like a pretty good roof.

We turned in our laundry the day before leaving for the coast. How interesting to see everything neatly drying on hangers.

Andre and the unnamed parrot with our now-folded laundry.

Bob took this picture of the powder puff plant, Calliandra haematocephala, which, sadly, is not suited to our North Carolina climate.

Everything is terraced up here on the mountain, including the graves, or more accurately, mausoleums. I took this picture on our way out of town.

And with that, our high country adventure was over. Down the winding, wet roads we drove, Bob at the wheel, headed towards Cahuita for the beachside phase of our Costa Rican experience.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

4 replies on “More Upcountry Fun at Arte de Plumas”

Love it! I could practically smell the place…so refreshing and clean, like nothing I’ve ever experienced in the U.S. except maybe in the depths of a NW Pacific rainforest. I’m so happy you got to see that area!

Me too. Crazy that you lived half an hour away from where we stayed upcountry, and not far from where we are headed next: Cahuita. Stay tuned for that post. I love Central America with its abundant and diverse wildlife!

Yes. The Costa Ricans, or Ticos, proved to be every bit as wonderful as I had heard from expats and friends who visited Costa Rica.

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