In a last-gasp effort to see something of the beautiful country of Costa Rica, and with a deal on a tour from a friend, I ventured out alone while Glenn continued to recover from his minor back injury.
While being driven out of town alone in a large tour van, via my splotchy Spanish, I finally understood he was taking me to meet another van. Eventually by the side of the road there was a driver named Carlos and a personable, knowledgeable English/Spanish guide, also named Carlos, and a nice Brazilian couple, and we ventured forth. Conversation went pretty well between Portuguese, Spanish, and English, and the drive was beautiful as Carlos pointed out the different ecological zones, rain forest, cloud forest, and over the continental divide.
Arriving at a remote property, we went through a gate, down a path, and arrived under a big palapa where there was fresh fruit laid out for us, the sweetest papaya I've ever had, succulent pineapple, and some fresh bananas. There were four very cute bats hanging out above, watching us devour our treats.
Just down the path we met our tour boat, and -- after some tinkering with the engine -- off we went down the Sarapiqui River, our guide pointing out the wildlife while the driver brought us right in close for pictures. Lizards and monkeys and crocodiles, oh my!
A pleasant hour later, we climbed the stairs into the jungle for ziplining and lunch. I was the only taker for the canopy tour, so the Brazilians relaxed and photographed birds while I was geared and helmeted up, led to my horse, and away we went, two walking along the road and three riding.
After about 10-15 minutes we arrived at the beginning of the zip course. I looked up the ladder and, holy crap! About 50 feet up that ladder was the first platform. Boy, did my lack of Jazzercizing show! gasp I must have climbed halfway up the Empire State Building between all the high ladders at each platform. At the end I didn't want it to be the last, but I really couldn't have survived many more ladders! My two hunky-boy guides were a lot of fun and totally professional, much attention paid to safety on the well-maintained zip course.
It was strongly suggested that canopy tour participants not take their cameras, because the guides would take pictures, so I have none, except a couple I sneaked of the slide show afterwards. I found it really strange that nobody actually hit me up to buy the pictures. Such a difference from other countries where there would have been a hard sell. The only animals I saw in the jungle were a pretty orange poison dart frog along the trail and a few battalions of ginormous mosquitoes. Amazingly, they didn't seem to be too hungry; just a couple toothy vampires.
Lunch was typical Costa Rican fare: beans and rice/rice and beans, some pieces of grilled chicken, some salad-y stuff, and a very sweet fruit drink. Our guide then led us down to a small building where they housed several local species of snakes, from a couple of large boas to some highly venomous vipers, the dreaded fer-de-lance and a pretty yellow eyelash viper. We were told that they only keep them for a little while and then release them as they catch new ones. The collection was smaller than usual at this time. Next door was another greenhouse building where lots of blue jeans poison dart frogs lived. So cute!
We got back on the road and experienced an absolute downpour for about half the drive back, up from the river into the cloud forest and back down into drenched San Jose. Enjoy the slide show!