Clouds, rain, zip lines and a search for a frog

Trip Start Sep 30, 2009
Trip End Dec 04, 2009

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Where I stayed

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Puntarenas,
Friday, November 6, 2009

Following a wonderful morning and a good breakfast, I was picked up at 8.40 and headed for Monteverde. First we took a shuttle for about 20 minutes, followed by a very beautiful boatride across Lago Arenal, and as the Arenal Volcano slipped into the distance behind us - although still fully visible, I admired the wonderful green landscapes that were surrounding the lake. Rarely have I seen so many nuances of green! On the bus, I happened to meet a Danish couple, that I had also spotted at the waterfall the day before, and it was fun speaking a little bit of Danish for a change. There really isn't many Danes around the Central American region, wonder if I'll meet more in Peru. After the boat ride we had a 2 hour shuttle ride to reach Monteverde. Although Costa Rica seems a very civilised country, they really ought to do something about their roads. All the way to Monteverde we drove on a gravel road, with so many pot holes, that those in Cuba seem like nothing. And we even passed a huge snake on the road – a dead one. After about 2 hour's of driving, we finally arrived in the sleepy little town of Santa Elena. My hotel was a couple of km outside of town, and just as on their homepage, it was a Swiss-style chalet built on a hilltop overlooking the treetops. Everything inside was made of wood and all the floors were polished – and slippery. I was lucky not to manage to slip on the floor in my room, even though it was close a couple of times. The room was nice, and with the exception of the flora and fauna – and the temperatures – you could actually imagine yourself being in the Swiss Alps.

I decided to spend the afternoon relaxing, I even crashed for a couple of hours. But thereafter, I went to the jacuzzi located in a small pavilion a few steps down on the hill. Before that I went for a little 20 minutes walk on a trail in the woods surrounding the hotel. It was really nice, but I did not see any animals, although I managed to get some nice shots of the river just before it got too dark.

With no TV in my room, there really was not much to do at the hotel except read and relax. Again I found it slightly dull to be staying at a hotel outside of town, considering that hotel guests not tend to be the most talkative travellers – compared to hostel guests. However, I had a really nice – and expensive dinner – with sea bass and macadamia nut sauce. Needless to say that I tucked in early – after all, I had booked a tour in the zip lines the next morning with departure at 7.05 AM.

OK, I did it again! Woke up at little after 4, but managed to stay sleepy until 5, when surrendered and decided to get up. I was picked up on time, and after having collected two German girls – that I also recognised from the waterfall in Arenal. They were just doing the Sky Walk on the hanging bridges, whereas I was doing the real thing – the zip lines. So it was just me and the two guides, Donald and Bernie, who ventured into the clouds. Yes, the weather really wasn’t the best. At least it was not raining – then – but it was difficult to see anything but the closest canopies, and basically once you zipped on to a line, you just saw it disappearing into the clouds. It had a blast, though, and was not scared for a second. Perhaps I would have been, had I been able to grasp that I at one point actually was flying with 75 km an hour 100 m above the ground! It was all over as quickly as it had begun, so at 8.30 AM I was finished. However, I had to wait for the two German girls to get the ride back to my hotel. I waited. And waited, but took advantage of the time to explore some of the nearby hanging bridges, although admittedly I did not feeling like moving on because 1. I did not know when the girls would be back and 2. I had not paid for that part. Finally at 10 o’clock they turned up, just to let us know that they had decided to walk back to town.

Worried that there would be no – at least working – ATM in Montezuma, I asked if we could stop by the ATM in Santa Elena on the way back, and instead I could persuaded into walking back to my hotel – as it was only a couple of km. Something I should bitterly regret later. Santa Elena is really small and not interesting. There is little more than a few cafés and restaurants in addition to the mandatory hotels, hostels and pensions. I took an early lunch at the Tree Top restaurant, which is built around a tree. I cannot imagine how many times the guests and waiters must have knocked their heads on the thick branches in between the small chairs were placed. I got my cash out of the ATM, shopped a few snacks for the upcoming bus journey the next day and a souvenir lighter – that I now am unable to find. Shortly after starting my walk, this dog was standing in my path, and despite having told it – in Danish – to go home, it kept following me for the most of my way home. Which was uphill and uphill – and we are already talking about Santa Elena being at 1.500 m. And then it started raining. First as a slight drizzle, then more, and more, and more. I kept on walking relentlessly, and even though I thought about joining a couple of girls in a bus shelter, I continued walking. And then close to my hotel, I met one of the American couples from Tortuguero, who were in a hurry to find something to eat before their next excursion. So we didn’t talk a lot, but the dog apparently fancied them more than me all of a sudden, and joined them as they were heading back towards the town. Not that I minded, though, because what should I have done with a dog. I was quickly getting completely soaked. And of course this was about the only time I had not brought my rain cover. Instead I was wearing my wind/rain breaker, which proved not to provide any shelter for the rain. I decided to run for cover at the gas station on the corner, where the road leads up to the hotel, and it took at least 10-15 minutes before the rain had worn off sufficiently enough for me to venture up yet another hill to the hotel.

I went straight for the shower, and thereafter handed in my 2nd bag of laundry – this time wet clothes. The laundry at Hotel Belmar was extremely expensive, as this was the first time I had come across prices per item and not per pound or kilo. But I had no choice, as my clothes would have no chance of drying up in the humid air. And it kept on raining, and raining. I felt somewhat apprehensive about the twilight walk that I had booked, because I did not fancy getting my boots totally mudded and wet – they were humid already. But the rained cleared up a little bit, and at little after five, I and a Dutch girl were picked up and driven the short distance to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, a small reserve with secondary rainforest used to educate children a.o. It was pitch black when we got there, but luckily I had brought my head lamp, that ended up running out of batteries during the hike. Thank God, I was not hiking on my own. We saw a lot of insects and even a tarantula, even though she was hiding well down in her cave at the roots of a tree, meaning that we only got to see her legs. We also saw these amazing green insect, whose name escapes me, but the pictures tell it all. I so much wanted to see one of those bright green frogs that are pictured everywhere, but we did not have any such luck.

I was starving, feeling the disadvantages of my early lunch, so I was happy when we finally were heading back to the hotel, where I had an excellent tenderloin – my first real piece of good meat during my entire trip – and a glass of Merlot from Casillero del Diablo. Yes, both here and in Guatemala, I have come across the same type of wine brands that we can get back home in the supermarkets – especially the Chilean wines are very popular also here in Central America.

Following an episode of Grey’s Anatomy and some pages in my book, I was ready to close my eyes for the last time in Monteverde, really looking forward to the sun and the beach in Montezuma.
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