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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Zip-lining and the Cloud Forest

COSTA RICA | Wednesday, 22 August 2007 | Views [2685]

            Today was my second day in beautiful Costa Rica. I woke up bright and early at about 6:00 AM after having trouble falling asleep last night. I washed up and was listening to this guy outside chanting “Monteverde-something” in Spanish. I then walked up to the market and got my usual breakfast banana and a Red Bull, and a pineapple to eat later. The pineapple was only like a dollar, compared to about $6 at the grocery store I work at. I took a few photos while outside and it was sunny out. Last night it rained cats and dogs. I got on the internet and looked at flights from Managua to San Jose. They were super expensive, but I did find a flight from Arenal/La Fortuna Airport to San Jose for $71. I booked that one for early on the 27th so I’m guaranteed time at Volcán Arenal and don’t have to go back to San Jose and stay a night there. I would love to see Arenal at night! At 7:30 AM, it was time to go zip-lining above the canopy. The bus picked us up and I realized I forgot my voucher, but I was thinking everything would be alright. It was about a 10-minute drive to the canopy place, but on the way, a Dutch girl told me that the bus to Nicaragua is full for tomorrow. I sure hope not! That would put a big dent in my plans, but it would guarantee me at least another day in Monteverde. I’m also thinking that I may have to save Tortuguero for a future trip because of time constraints. At the canopy tour place, I got in another van thinking we were going to another canopy tour place, but I figured I’d do both tours. It was only $10 extra. Although, I had booked my canopy tour for 7:30, I wasn’t too worried. The tour began at 8:30 and it was quite fun. Our guide pointed out a strangling fig tree. It has a commensalistic relationship with another plant (where one benefits and the other neither is benefited nor is harmed). While walking on the first bridge, we saw a gray fox; it is the only member of the canine family that climbs trees. The bridges were awesome and the canopy was even more spectacular. It wasn’t hot and muggy like it would be in the Amazon because we were in a cloud forest. Any tropical rainforest at a n elevation of 1,300-2,000 meters is considered a cloud forest. We then saw a bird called a blue-crowned mutt-mutt, and then a blue butterfly. I also took photos of the canopy and of this unique spiral-shaped plant. After walked across six hanging bridges, we had to climb up a hollowed out strangling fig tree. Before climbing, I got a photo of myself in the tree. I then started climbing, and I lost one of my thongs (flip-flops) on the way up, but someone brought it back up to me. I felt like an idiot for wearing my thongs on the walk; I should have worn my real shoes! The climb was quite an experience though. We then walked along the final two bridges and we didn’t see much more wildlife. Our guide told us that we didn’t see much today, although we also saw a tayra right before the end of the walk. It was so much fun, and then I was glad I got on the wrong bus. After hanging around for a few minutes, we were driven to the canopy tour place. We had 40 minutes to burn, so I went to the adjacent cafeteria and got a cup of tea and a couple of those meat-filled pastries. They were really good! I sat and relaxed for awhile and we were ready to begin the zip-line at 11:00. We all put on harnesses and helmets and the instructor showed us the basics: how to hang and things like that. Then, we were ready to hang above the canopy. I was one of the first to go, and it was so much fun! I was flying like an eagle through the magical rainforest canopy; not at all worried about the cable snapping or anything like that. The adrenaline is what fuels me! After glading through the rainforest on four cables, I got the chance to jump down off a platform. We waited for a few minutes and then it was time for the next set of zip-lines. These cables were longer and I flew through the vast open forest. I had the guide take photos of me flying through the forest. I really felt like a bird! After two zip lines, it was time for the Tarzan swing. I did something similar to this in New Zealand. I had to take off my thongs (or I would have lost them). I gave it a big jump! I swung through the rainforest feeling like I just wanted to fly forever. Next up was the final set of zip-lines. I could see a lot of the rainforest from high above; something a human isn’t meant to do. But hey, no one said I was human! On the last zip-line, we had to go tandem, and it was the longest cable. At about 1:00, my zip-line tour was over, but it was such an amazing experience. I definitely want to go zip-lining again, and I will because I know I’ll be back to Costa Rica! Afterward, I got another one of those pastries because they are so delicious. It’s good to eat local food when you travel. It gives me more of a cultural experience and it’s what makes me a traveler and not a tourist. When I got back to the hotel, I was invited to lunch by Shani; a girl from Israel who went zip-lining with me. She’s here with her boyfriend. First, I stopped at the tour desk and got a bus ticket to Granada, Nicaragua. For the first time, I’m visiting two countries on one trip (not including flight stopovers and day tours). I then sat down to eat with Shani, her boyfriend Aviad, Gjis and Doreen, from the Netherlands, and a few others who went zip-lining with us. I ate a pork chop with mixed vegetables and rice with a side order of fries. It was all very good, and the whole thing didn’t even cost $10. In Iceland, I spent $40 for a sit-down meal. At the table, we all shared travel stories and relished the moment. I was asking a few of the others if they wanted to go on the night walk because I wanted to go. At 2:30, we all said good bye and I got Aviad’s email. He told me I could stay at his place if I’m ever in Israel. I really want to go there because I’ve always wanted to float on the Dead Sea. It was a lot of fun having lunch together after our thrilling tour. I then went back to the hotel and relaxed for a bit. I jumped on the computer and got an email from my friend Ashley and my friend Tristan; who is the first girl I ever had a crush on. I showed these guys from England my pictures from Iceland and Australia. One of them told me that he drove from Adelaide to Perth in a camper van and that it’s so much fun. I’m looking to pull that trip off on a road bike! I then went next door and got a pastry and afterward booked another night here. I also decided that I wanted to take part in the night walk, so I booked that for only $17. I did a night walk in Australia and I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the jungles at night. I still had 45 minutes before the tour was set to begin, so I walked down to the store and got a young coconut and a Red Bull. The two guys from England (one’s name is Chris) were also going on the night jungle walk. On the way back from the grocery store, I noticed smoke coming from the forest, so I was wondering if it was slash-and-burn agriculture or something destructive. I sure hope not because it is so beautiful and pristine here! At 5:15 the van showed up and it was only a short drive. Everything in Monteverde is within a short distance it seems. Our guide’s name is Juancarlos; he gave us all a flashlight and we began our trek. It was raining out, but it didn’t matter. A rainforest without rainforest is like a desert with no sand. Almost immediately, Juancarlos pointed out a sleeping toucan. However, it was too far away to get a picture. We then saw a large spider and a stick insect. Next, Juancarlos pointed out a sleeping sloth far away in the tree. He was impressed that I knew sloth are related to anteaters and armadillos. Their order, Edentata means “without teeth.” I’ve studied a lot of biology as well as geography. We then saw a centipede and leaf insects, but I was starting to get upset with myself because I couldn’t get any good photos. I’m so good at photographing landscapes and buildings, but I’m such an awful wildlife photographer. I was feeling a bit depressed about it. Up the trail, Juancarlos pointed out a colony of leafcutter ants. They are big like army ants, and they were carrying leaves like a group of men carrying wood. We then saw wild banana trees and a pair of mating moths while enjoying the sounds of the jungle. It is so magical because you hear so many different creatures that you typically don’t hear. Many animals in this area are found nowhere else on Earth! I’ve now been to jungles in two different countries just like how I’ve seen geysers in two different countries. Juancarlos pointed out a cane toad, and a short walk up the trail, we saw two tarantulas. I did get a good photo of a tarantula and the mating moths, so I can say I’m improving as a wildlife photographer. After two hours, the night walk was over. I thanked Juancarlos for his time because it was a great walk! I was talking with this girl named Christine, who was on the night walk, and I got her email. I’ve only been here two days and I’ve already met many nice people. We were driven back to the hotel and I saw Shani and Aviad again. I told them they really missed out because they didn’t do the night walk. Anyways, I got on the computer for a bit and Shani invited me to eat shuk shuka with her and her friends. Shuk shuka is an Israeli dish. In return, I offered to cut up the pineapple for dessert. I hung out on the computer for a bit and had two cups of hot cocoa, which is only 50 cents here. At about 8:30, I cut up the pineapple into slices and put it in the fridge, and a few minutes later the shuk shuka was ready. I must say it was super good! It has all these vegetables, tomato sauce, and eggs. I don’t like eggs, but Shani told me that they’re the point of shuk shuka. Everyone ate so much of it that they made a second batch. As we were eating, we took some pictures. I made sure to get some because it’s a cultural experience bringing Israeli food to Costa Rica. I’ve also been a more adventurous eater since I’ve begun my travels. After eating another bowl of shuk shuka, I had a slice of pineapple and then helped wash the dishes. The kitchen is my main chore back home, so I have no problem doing dishes even when I’m traveling. I then hung out with my new Israeli friends. One of them is a girl named Jordan, and she’s very pretty. They were all very nice to me. I have that special ability to talk to just about anyone and therefore I quickly make new friends when I travel. After awhile, some of them decided on going to the bar of the street. Aviad and Shani decided to go to sleep. I said good night to them and thanked them for their time today. I hope to go to Israel someday and visit them. I went up to the bar, but there was nothing really going on, so I only stayed for about five minutes. I walked back to the hotel and took a nice long shower, and then went up to my room. Interestingly, there is a map of Cuba on the wall right outside my room. I’m by myself in my room for the second straight night. I’m used to sharing a room with someone else. A few of the rooms I stayed at in Australia had 10 or 12 beds. So, tomorrow I head up to Nicaragua. I can check off another country (but I have to get there first). Well, I have a long bus ride tomorrow and I have to get up in four hours, so I’m going to sleep. See you tomorrow in Nicaragua!

Tags: Adrenaline

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