Jungle trek

This morning we were told by our guide that we should wear something that we don’t mind getting wet. She also told us to be careful with what we took, anything could get wet if we slipped. We were going to take a hike to a waterfall and wade in a river. So I decided not to bring my phone, as others would be taking and sharing pictures.

The experience was beyond my imagination.

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A local guy named Will who also works at the ecolodge was our guide for this adventure. First, he handed out walking sticks, said they were required.

We started slowly down a wide path as he told us about the native plants and herbs, even tasting some of them. Gradually the walk got steeper, and I was thankful for the  steps that had been fashioned into them. He continued to talk about the plants, trees, and wildlife in an engaging manner. Here are just a few photos: a pineapple (rare to see growing wild), a blue jean frog (poisonous) and this cactus thing attached to a tree.

facebook_15542084600867701877805844060198.jpgWe eventually came to a small rocky creek down in the valley. Turns out, this was the river. It is dry season, currently. In rainy season, it becomes a raging torrent. We were all grateful for our walking sticks as we stepped into the cold water and picked our way over the rocks.

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Then we saw it – a cascading waterfall at the end of a narrow passage. The water was knee deep at times. The fall plummeted into a small pool, and we took our turns getting into the waist deep water, our delighted screams at the frigid temperature filling the air.

I thought that we would have a similar hike back, but turned out that the way back was down the river! We walked through the ankle to knee deep water, admiring the green-covered canyon walls on each side.

Finally, reaching dry land, we had yet another treat! There was a pool, roughly filled in facebook_15542074609002787757350077073029.jpgwith concrete and rocks, fed by the river! As we oohed and aahed, Will gave each of us a chunk of the red clay natural to the area and demonstrated that we should wet it and rub it on our face and body! We had a marvelous time, and my skin felt extra smooth after this beauty treatment. It was like a spa in the forest!

 

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From the mountains to the rain forest

I thought being in the mountains was my favorite – until we took a boat ride towards the Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna. The sight of this active volcano with it’s ever changing cloud cap is simply breathtaking.

On the way our guide spotted a monkey in a a tree and a cayman in the mud. It is amazing to me that they can be seen, their camouflage is so good.

Before arriving at our hotel, tucked into the rain forest, with a view of the volcano from its fabulous veranda, we spent a little time in town. I ate a “tipical” vegetarian lunch, consisting of white rice, black beans, a little salad, plantain, and vegetables. I’ve had this meal in various forms since I’ve been here, interesting to experience the different interpretations.

My new friend and roommate, Mandy, and I then walked across the beautiful park and found an amazing chocolate shop where I splurged on an iced coffee. I can’t seem to resist the Costa Rican coffee – which may explain why I’m writing this at 2 in the morning.

img_20190331_164630_12100005406616165741.jpgThen we went to the sloth park. It was disappointing to learn that we wouldn’t see a sloth up close and personal as they spend the majority of their time up in trees. They are much safer from predators there. However, we had an excellent guide with a good telescope and i did get a couple of pictures and a video. We also saw some birds, a blue-jean frog, and leaf-cutter ants.

I was super tired by then and ready for the hotel. A short ride took us to La Princesa Ecolodge, tucked away in the forest. The view of the volcano is fabulous, and the sound of the whistling cicadas accompanied us as we ate our evening meal on the lower veranda dining area. I think it was the best meal so far! One of my traveling companions shared a glass of white wine with me, and as we sat discussing the events of the day and the expectations for tomorrow, we all agreed that the trip was just getting better and better.

(the above was written at 2 am. now it is 6:30)

When I got up, the stickiness was gone from the air. I sit on the wide veranda, after having done a few yoga stretches, listening to the morning sounds – the birds, the insects, and the people in the kitchen. I am hoping for coffee soon. We are taking a short walk in the forest to a waterfall, then a chocolate tour a little later.

Wifi is on and off, all the time. Uploading pictures is uncertain. Videos are even more unlikely. I have loads more pictures I’d like to share, but they are stuck on my phone for now. But here is my first look at Arenal Volcano this morning.

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From the beach to the Mountains

I’m writing from Hotel Los Jardines in Monteverde, Costa Rica. I am SO glad to be in the mountains, where it is cool – only 77 degrees and not humid, rather than in the 90’s and sticky humid all the time like it was at the very beautiful beach in the Bejuco District.

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This trip with Bamboo has involved much less work than I expected. It’s been more of an education about what is being done to slow the destruction of the environment and what is being done to try to reclaim it.  I’m being reminded that I can make changes that can have an impact, such as not buying anything that comes in a one use plastic container or wrapper. Difficult but possible.

We’ve spent the last five nights sleeping at the beach house. The mornings were spent in: going on a trek to gather seeds for reforestation, visiting a fishing village, working in and around a greenhouse that is nurturing tree seedlings, and sorting plastic waste for recycling. Afternoons were free. I spent mine taking short dips in the water followed by a cool shower, nap, and lolling around on the veranda enjoying the view but getting very sticky again.

I was very happy to pack my bags and get on the bus to come to the mountains. When we stopped to admire the view, it was wonderful to feel the coolness and the drops of cloud moisture pricking our skin. pano_20190329_1344342814212484938510982.jpg

We visited a small family owned organic coffee farm, which was very lovely,  then had some time to rest and rejuvenate at the hotel, including enjoying a cocktail at happy hour.

 

 

Then it was off to dinner at The Treehouse, a restaurant which has been built around a huge tree.

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It is late and tomorrow morning we go zip lining “through the rainforest canopy”. I’m super excited about it. I’ve done it twice before – once in Mexico, above the canyons, and again near Austin, which was pretty tame. I expect this time to be very thrilling!

San Jose – first impressions

I was transported from the airport to Hotel Luz de Luna by Eric, a very nice man who spoke as much English as I do Spanish – muy, muy poquito. He got me here safely, but it was a bit hair-raising. I was somewhat prepared, having visited Honduras 11 years ago, but honestly, I am amazed they don’t have more accidents.

The city is old, and very crowded, with lots of traffic. Besides cars, there are buses and small motorcycles. The cars and buses merge unexpectedly without signaling, and in the crowded two lane streets, people on motorcycles “white line” even when there’s no white line!

The drivers seem to have a rather mysterious method of communication via honking. Sometimes the honking means “you are in my lane, move away” and other times it means “go on ahead of me.” At one point, Eric rolled down his window and yelled at someone, then apologetically turned to me and said “stupid people” and a lot of Spanish words I didn’t understand. He then proceeded to drive at breakneck speed through what seemed like back roads.

Alto doesn’t mean stop when it is on a red and white sign that looks like a stop sign. It apparently means “slow down just long enough that when you enter this road you probably won’t get hit.” And traffic lights don’t seem to serve much purpose!

Funny thing is, I wasn’t really scared.  Even when Eric didn’t seem to be paying much attention to his driving because he was texting and calling almost constantly, I only slightly tensed up. Everyone drives this way here, so I somehow knew everything was all right. I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness and serenity that I was finally in Costa Rica.

Tomorrow, we get on a bus for an eight hour journey to The Turtle Project on the Northern Peninsula (where, I am told, wifi will be sporadic). We being me and 8 other women, seven of them from the UK and the 8th from Canada. Great people, lovely accents, and I am looking forward to sharing the adventure with new friends.

IMG_20190323_182427.jpgIn the meantime, we enjoyed complimentary Sangria at the bar in the little restaurant here before having a delicious dinner at a restaurant down the street.