The cloud forest
Monteverde, Costa Rica
We are leaving Isla de Ometepe today and making our way down to the final country of the trip – Costa Rica.
I’m really excited about this country – it looks amazing!
So in order to begin the day, a lovely 5.30am wake up!
Although I had been awake since about 3.30am with the cockerels.
4am with the dogs.
4.30am with the pigs.
5am with the cows.
5.30am with the horses.
And then the alarm!
A final breakfast with our family – of course rice and beans! (Gallo pinto!).
And we were picked up at at. 6.20am ready to head back to the port. I was dreading the boat ride back to the mainland. The way to the island was horrendous. Luckily on the way back we were on the ferry – a slightly larger boat. But felt a lot more stable. And lots of room on the top in the open air – much nicer.
We left at 7am and it took an hour back to the mainland. It was mostly smooth and actually was fine! Wish we had gone on this boat on the way there!
Next up – a mini bus to the border. It only took an hour to drive to the Nicaragua : Costa Rica border and we arrived just after 9am. Along the way we spotted a blue and green bird – the national bird of Nicaragua! Here it was busy!
The other borders had been relatively quiet in comparison. I changed some money – had about $6 left! And then we were stamped out of Nicaragua.
On the border here are lots of duty free shops! Random. Bottles of Flor de Cana (the local rum) were $10, which was a little disappointing given we had only paid $5 at the supermarket in Granada! However toblerone was $2! Awesome! It was then a 1km walk to Costa Rica. In a slight rain. With all our bags. Great.
We had to show our passports several times before being allowed into a queue outside the immigration building. And we stood here for about half an hour not moving. Annoying.
Finally when we were allowed into the building, we had to show a flight ticket to prove we were going to leave Costa Rica – and then stamped in!
2014 country number 9 – Costa Rica
This is my country number 50!!
Into a new mini van and off into the land of the jungle. It took ages at the border, so was 11am by the time we finally left. The most amazing thing – free wifi on the mini van!!!!
Kept me entertained the whole journey.
The roads were all being re-done so there were roadworks all around for miles and miles. After about an hour on the road, we stopped at a shopping centre. It was amazing! An ATM which accepted MasterCard – and have USD as well as local Colones. Free toilets. And a supermarket – great bus snacks!
And back on the road.
We are heading up to the cloud forest in Monteverde. It was certainly very cloudy. And rainy. Heading higher and higher around the winding roads. We stopped to watch a toucan flying around! And arrived at 4.30pm into the cold and damp!!
After quickly dumping our stuff, we went off for a walk around the small town of Santa Elena. It’s cute, a small church, few small restaurants and a couple of shops, surrounded by the green tree-covered hills.
For dinner we stopped of at a taco place. I had a burrito with avocado and other vegetables in. It was amazing!!
Costa Rica is a bit more expensive than other countries, so cost 3,000 colones (£3.25). And then some icecream which is made locally – I had mint, which was really good!!
Later that evening we went off to the local bar. Of which there only seems to be one!! And tried some salsa dancing. Of course I was rubbish!!!
Tuesday 29 April 2014
This trip has been a few weeks of early mornings!
Up again at out at 7am. Popped to the bakery first for some breakfast – bought an apple and cinnamon pastry ($1) and some pineapple empanadas ($1) for later. Then at 7.30am we were all picked up – ready to go zip lining!
It was just a 15 minute drive through the hilly surroundings to reach the zip lines. I was really scared! A man ‘dressed’ us with a harness and we were given a quick briefing about what to do! Basically just sit down and use your hand on the line behind you as a brake! Then we were off. No faffing around. Eeek!
The first line was not high and was fairly short. It was ok! Next one, again not high, bit longer was fine! Over a slippery bridge. Another couple of lines. All fine!
Then they wanted us to drop about 15/20m to the ground. I couldn’t do it! Free fall down to the ground. Was too scared of stepping off the platform.
The man hadn’t told me that actually I didn’t need to do that bit at all and that it was optional. So I stood for a while working myself up!
And then got scared for the next zip line which was rather long! But it was fine – out in the open, above the trees. Nice views.
Then a massive hike – for about 15 minutes up some steep forest. It was nice and pretty though!
Then for the big one. The longest zip line in Latin America – at 1.6km long!
And with this one you have the option to go ‘flying fox’ style, laying on your stomach, attached by the harness on your back! I said I wasn’t going to do it – it was bad enough just sliding along sitting down! And that’s what I was going to do on this one. So I watched most of the group disappearing down the wire. And then it was my turn! Eeekk!!! At the last minute I decided I might as well go down flying fox too. I must have been mad! It involved a change of harness, then you were strapped up and the guy just pushes you along and then you can’t stop.
The first few seconds were scary, but then it was ok!
Zooming along way above the trees, on your stomach, through cloud and back to the hill on the other side. I didn’t quite reach the end, so a man had to come and get me for the last 20 meters or so!
And then the final one. Again going as a flying fox.
This wasn’t quite so long, but again was good. This one you were told to put your arms out, like you are flying!
So overall, I enjoyed it and was glad I had done it! But it was scary.
After a brief rest, onto the next activity! A canopy walk! We began by walking through the jungle.
Here it is called cloud forest. Malaysia have something very similar and call it mossy forest. Looks much the same though. Tall trees, lots of moss, bromeliads, lianas and small flowers.
We ended up spotting quite a lot – a resplendent quetzal (which i was really pleased about!) – the national bird of Guatemala.
A couple of hummingbirds, an owl! Some quail and lots of other birds. Much of the walk was along muddy tracks. But some of it was along suspension bridges. I’m usually scared of these. But after this mornings zip lining, they were fine!!
And right at the end, it was possible to climb up inside a tree for about 10m. The inside tree had died and rotted away, leaving the outer tree – which had lots of holes around it. Was pretty cool! And then back to town.
We stopped off for lunch at the same place as yesterday, and I had the same vegetable burrito!! Still amazing the second time around! And had another walk around the small town.
I got back to the hotel around 3.30pm and then had a lazy few hours, sorting all my stuff out. Around 5pm it began to pour down with torrential rain. I was supposed to be going on a night walk at 5.30pm. Not going out in this!!!
So needless to stay it was delayed.
After 45 minutes the rain stopped and at 6pm we were picked up for the short drive to the walking place! We had a guide for 5 of us and armed with torches, set off into the forest.
Almost immediately we spotted a sloth up in the tree. A grey ball of fluff! Cute!! It just hung out there, not moving. Apparently they choose a new tree each day. Also in the same large tree there was a whole group of Pinkachus running around. These are racoon type fluffy animals with a long tail, but are not stripy.
Next up – a scorpion on a tree. Under normal light, completely camouflaged. But under UV light, it glowed green! It was awesome!
A few other things – tarantulas, huge stick insects, some frogs, thousands of ants (and I got bitten!), a pit viper and a baby pit viper. A bird in a tree sleeping. And lots of insects. It was great! So many animals here!
The walk lasted until 8.30pm, and then we made our way back to town. The rest of the group had waited for us for dinner, which was nice. So we all headed out to a local restaurant in town. I had faijitas – standard! And then back to the same bar as last night!