Central Highlands: Arenal and Monteverde
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The month of October saw Heather and I travel from our home on Maui into Central America for some rain-soaked adventures, and a foray into some wild and unique places in hidden corners of the globe. We arrived on October 8 2007 into the San Jose airport in Costa Rica and immediately hit the ground running as we had our sights set on locales outside of the urban chaos of the capital city. We caught a quick bus from San Jose bus station (any fake watch in the world for sale!) to Ciudad Quesada where we nearly executed a seamless transfer onto a bus into La Fortuna, however, disaster struck early in the form of Heather’s wallet being stolen by a pickpocket in the women’s restroom at the bus station, and we ended up having to take a solemn (and expensive) cab ride an hour into town. Once in the town though we made the most of our time there by visiting raging La Catarata waterfall in the rainforest as mist slowly blanketed the canopy, followed by a nighttime hike up the flanks of Volcan Arenal to watch magma-illuminated boulders crash from the summit through the underbrush on their journey to become just another large rock. Their 15 minutes of fame if you will. We relaxed in massive natural hot springs the size of entire swimming pools at the Baldi Hot Springs Resort and sipped on overpriced drinks at the swim up bar.
The next day we crossed Lake Arenal on an outboard speedboat, marveling at the vast pasturelands full of cattle and waterlogged foliage, over to the other side of the lake where a van was waiting to transport us up the mountain and into the cloudforest of Monteverde. The van ended up getting stuck in the mud however (as did the second van staging a dramatic rescue!) and we were forced to slide the van about 100 yards backwards down the mudslope only to hit the same section of road at about 45 mph to get enough speed to power through the mud. Sketchy? I can’t decide if the funniest part of the ordeal was all the typical American tourists standing around in horrified silence with a communal bubble hovering above them that read “oh my god, I can’t believe this is happening on my vacation…does Triple A even make it out this far?”, or Heather conversing in broken English with a 85 yeard old farmer that he would rather have the van stay broken so she could stay at his house for the night and help take care of the goats with him. Eventually the caravan ascended the slippery slope and rolled a few hours later into Monteverde, where the only thing heavier than the fog was the rain. Perfect weather for ziplining!
So after checking into our quaint little hostel that Heather loved, I got back in a van and headed further up the mountain to hurl myself over gaping rainforest crevasses with Extremo zipline tours into the hovering abyss. While I have been ziplining in other parts of the world, what made this especially memorable was literally not being able to see the end–or middle for that matter–of the zipline as you watched people just disappear into the clouds, half expecting to not see them on the other side. We all survived though, and to be suspended in the middle of the cloudforest without another living soul in sight while hovering over a 600 ft. drop below you into the Costa Rican cloudforest is definitely to step away from it all momentarily and drape a veil of mist around you to buffer you from all the annoyances of the outside world. I wouldn’t have minded if those lines went on for days.