Saturday, 18 April 2015

Last stop: Costa Rica!

Travelling into Costa Rica was an experience in itself. 

After an hour on the ferry (much smoother crossing this time, no puke bags required!) from Ometepe we were driven a few hours to the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border where we had to cross on foot, about a 20 minute walk. I've never had to do that before, I felt like a refugee with my big backpack on the back and my little one on the front. (Yes, it looks like that guy is having a rummage through my pack, and yes, I still have my passport.)

After another few hours driving over bumpy winding roads with precarious drops and views of misted hills all the way we finally reached Monte Verdi at dinner time, just in time to go straight back out on a night walk to do some wildlife spotting.

Unfortunately the coir doormat looking sloths that were promised on the front cover of my Lonely Planet guide were in hiding (I wonder if I should sue for false advertising?) but we did see some other cool stuff. First up, a big hairy tarantula (the size of the guide's fist) hiding in its nest. Not my favourite of creatures but as long as it wasn't running up my trouser leg I wasn't too bothered.

We also saw a huge line of leaf cutter ants carrying bits of leaves, queuing to get back into their nest. When I say huge line, I mean it went on for miles, seriously. We saw a couple of beetles and a caterpillar but that was about it for wildlife. There was lots of interesting plant life but nothing could make up for the sloth we didn't see.

Back at the lodge the guide turned off the lights and told us to look inside a glass tank in the corner. The tank was full of scorpions. And, who knew, they glow in the dark!

The following day the whole group went zip lining over the rain forest. This was one of the things I was most looking forward to but it quickly became clear that doing the breaking myself was going to dislocate my shoulder. I did three by myself but it was agony so I ended up attached to a guide. Being attached to someone is even scarier than going it alone because you have no control, you just have to trust that they've got you. Most of the zips you are facing upwards towards the sky, but the longest one, which is nearly 1600 metres long and 200 feet above the ground you do facing down, in Superman pose. I did this one by myself. And for an eternal 30 seconds I was zipping high above the forest canopy, through cloud, high above the trees, completely unable to breathe. It was amazing, exhilarating, breath taking, truly terrifying.

In the afternoon Christine and I went on another nature walk on the hanging bridges. I had been really looking forward to this because I thought it was the cloud walk which is suspended bridges above the canopy and in the clouds. It was not that trip. I was most disappointed. There were also no sloths. Fail.  We did see a quetzal though. The quetzal is the national bird of Costa Rica.

I loved Monte Verdi. The climate was much cooler and more comfortable for a start, but the scenery was the thing that made it for me. The rolling hills, steeped in low cloud behind a brilliant blue sky, high in the mountains, now that's my idea of beauty.

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