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04/03/04 - 15/03/04

Playa Hermosa

So Costa Rica was before us and we decided we'd had enough of being on the move for a while and hit the beach for a week. Found ourselves a great little place at Playa Hermosa with a kitchen! Yeay, I miss having a kitchen.

Here we finally got round to editing all the pyramid pictures, we had been putting it off for ages. Also spent quite a bit of time lurking on the beach and swimming in the sea. The forest comes right down to the sea here and we spent ages one day watching the Howler monkeys charging around and surprisingly howling.

From there we went in to the mountains to the Monteverde Cloud forest Reserve.

It was about 40 km of dirt road up there which we had heard varying reports of and were not really looking forward to it after the last experience..... The road to El Estor...

It wasn't great, very bumpy, lots of pot holes and very steep in places. We were able to go pretty fast though and did it just over an hour. The road got worse as we headed away from the town and nearer the reserve. We turned around and ended up in a bit of a swishy hotel but it was raining by then and getting late so we just thought sod it.

The view was amazing, from our room we could see all the way to the coast. Unfortunately of course being a cloud forest it's pretty cloudy and rained most of the time we were there. When it was clear though it was great.

I had decided we had to do a canopy tour while we were there. I'd seen them advertised since we were in Tikal and thought it had to be fun. R was not too keen but was persuaded eventually. He has a bit of a problem with heights but it's more to do with having to trust other people and the equipment they are using. I just assume all will be fine and couldn't wait to fly.

The canopy tour is basically zip lines through the trees. Each one getting higher and faster. We couldn't actually see much at all as it was really cloudy and raining a lot of the time. The highest one, 450ft, we couldn't see the ground. I loved it, and so did R eventually!  I seemed to be able to curl up just right to go really fast, which was great as I never had to pull myself in along the line. Bit of a relief with my feeble arms.

At some points the wind was so strong it caught you half way across and swung you sideways and the metal spiral staircase to the highest one was moving in the wind. That was a bit scary. We all couldn't wait to just get on the line and go. I offered to let R go before me as he was looking a little white and he was off.... Left me at the top of a shaky tower with a Costa Rican monkey man!

Afterwards we went on a suspension bridge walk which was great but R got all stroppy with me when I jumped up and down. What a wuss. Heard lots of monkeys but didn't see any....bum. Canopy tour video (LQ).

Next day we got up ridiculously early to go on a forest hike. It was raining. Our guide was Raphael, he was good fun and had the most fascinating face. I've never seen such high cheek bones.

Most things were pretty difficult to see but we did see a sloth. He was in the top of a tree looking really wet. He turned his face round just as I was looking through the telescope. He looked kind of melancholy to me.

There are lots of hummingbirds and we caught the briefest glimpse of one as we were looking at a nest. It was so fast, just a flash of orange and it was gone. They are such clever little things, they build there nests with collected spiders web. That way as the babies grow the nests stretch. How ingenious is that?

Volcan Irazu

We left Monteverde in the rain and all our waterproofs. Within about twenty minutes it was boiling hot and sunny. The road down was a little better than on the way up but still took quite some time. That night we stopped in San Jose and the next morning rode up Volcan Irazu,10,000 ft. The mist rolled in and out all the way up and the crater at the top was like a moonscape. It was freezing. There was a group of Costa Rican riders up there out for a Sunday ride and we watched as the bike slowly disappeared in the midst of a curious crowd.

We went over and had our usual broken Spanish conversation.

We then headed for the coast and the road towards Panama. Between San Jose and the coast is one of the highest passes we have been over so far. Unfortunately the GPS decided to conk out so I can't tell you how high - typical. It was also really cloudy, rainy, cold and very heavy with traffic so quite frankly I didn't much care. We were glad to get down to the coast again, where it was steamy hot. We arrived once again towards dusk at a little jungle lodge. It was a cool place with a great swimming pool which was our first stop.

That bit of Costa Rica seems to be a little Dutch community. Everyone there was Dutch, as was the couple who ran it. It's just weird how that happens.

Next morning we kept trying to leave but our balcony and the surrounding trees were besieged by monkeys. They were just too fascinating to leave.

We eventually got on the road and headed for our last Central American border. Panama.


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