A zip in the clouds

Trip Start May 23, 2010
Trip End Aug 31, 2010

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Puntarenas,
Thursday, June 10, 2010

We left for La Fortuna on the 9th June headed for Santa Elena, gateway to Monteverde.  As the name suggests, Monteverde is an area of outstanding greenery, with lush tropical rainforest sitting at cloud height - hence being called cloudforest.  Our journey took us over some very bumpy terrain on what one guide called "Yes/No Roads", due to the involuntary nodding and shaking of the passengers' heads.  A brief boat ride over pretty Lake Arenal and then another bit of bumpy roads brought us to Santa Elena, the main accommodation base for Monteverde.

Santa Elena is a bit of a strange town, built on a small triangle of roads.  Our hostel also seemed to be a popular hangout for stray dogs, with about 5 or 6 in permanent residence (luckily all were healthy-looking and good tempered.  I'm not convinced the same could be said of the human guests).  Ems said the place had 'negative vibes'.  I saw an advert for some Crystal Healing in the town and offered her a chance to realign her Chi.  She scorned it with the contempt the suggestion deserved.

The next day we went to the reserve at Monteverde itself for a canopy and treetop walkway tour.  The manager at our previous hostel had encouraged us to book as students and save a few dollars.  I reluctantly agreed to this chicanery, believing that while Emma could easily pass for a fresh-faced 22, I look well past my sell-by date and would more likely qualify for an OAP discount.  However, the scam appeared to work and we were soon packed off to get kitted up in harnesses and hardhats for a zipline tour.

We were given a safety briefing before tackling the ziplines themselves, which stretch high above forest floor at canopy level and run for hundreds of metres.  A leather palmed glove acts as the brake and the whole thing is pretty exhilirating as you zoom along at high speeds, through the tops of the jungle's trees. 

It wasn't for the faint-hearted.  When we arrived at the fourth zipline, our group came to bit of congestion; a quivering Spanish lady from the previous group was looking quite emotional and her lip was quivering at the prospect of the next line, as one of the guides spoke to her in hushed, reassuring tones.  My Spanish is still pretty rudimentary, but I think I heard him saying "It's no use waiting for anything to change, Gloria.  You're as psyched as you need to be.  You just need to apply yourself,  you crazy cat."

The best line was saved to last, where Ems had to hang off the cable in front of me, with my 'riding pillion', legs wrapped around her and controlling our speed along a 1km stretch of cable.  Amazing stuff!  To top it off, at the end there was a Tarzan Swing, which consisted of leaping off a 10m high platform, attached to a rope that then swings you like a pendulum high up beyond the horizon.  The initial drop was stomach-churning, a bit like a bungee jump.  Emma's squeak as she jumped caused the group to smile, whereas I was left with a distinctly ginger walk from the strain of the harness in 'tender places'.

Before we could take the treetop walkway part of the tour, the heavens opened and we thought better of getting a 3rd soaking in a week!  They're not kidding when they say it's the rainy season!

P.S. No cameras allowed on the canopy tour, so no photos but I have some on my camera phone, so we'll upload when I figure out how to!
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Anne Cleaver on

You lucky pair, it sounds wonderful! Makes me wish I was young again. Have fun and stay safe!

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