We have had an incredible time in Costa Rica. Any of you who have been working during this time may not want to read on. Despite the price hike and major westernisation compared to the rest of Central America, the tourism is much better developed and as such many beautiful places are suddenly so much more accessible. We spent the Easter holidays in Monteverde national park, one of Costa Rica´s most famous areas in mountainous cloud forest. We were lucky enough to hitch a ride with a local tour operator, from the main road where the bus dropped us, to Santa Elena, the town closest to Monteverde. It was a beautiful winding trip up into the mountains, dry pastoral country at the bottom to dense green cloud forest and a view of the ocean at the very top. From a steamy few weeks in Nicaragua we were pleased to have to put jumpers on in the late afternoon in the cloud forest. The backpackers was lovely and we made a few good friends in the communal kitchen cooking up creative dishes to salsa music.
Excitement of Monteverde included;
- getting personal with the iguanas and nonvenomous snakes in the local serpentrium
- hanging out in the butterfly garden
- hiking through the Monteverde reserve, seeing toucans, howler monkeys, and fabulous forest. oh, and yet another waterfall...
- spotting 6 different species fo hummingbird in the hummingbird garden whilst sipping a latte
- having a coati (Racoon like critter) try to steal our lunch in the hummingbird garden because Natalia emptied tuna juice onto the leaves
- ziplining through primary cloud forest
- spotting a Quetzal (beautiful green and red bird with long long tail fethers) whilst standing on a zipline platform
- scooting out on the zipline with the guide holding me so I could get better photos of the Quetzal
- climbing a large cylindrical parasitic fig tree which had long killed its host and hollowed out, and watching the sun set behind the town from up high
- enjoying a cup of tea at sunrise back in the fig tree, 15m up, complete with bird book and binoculars (Nerds!).
After the Easter celebrations were over and the buses were running again, we moved on to Arenal Volcano, the most active in all of central America. As we crossed the nearby lake to get to the town, Arenal loomed on the horizon with steam rising off the sides where lava flows down to the bottom of the volcano almost every day. Funny to be so nonchalant about camping next toor to a rumbling lava giant. Unfortunately we didn´t get to see it at night as it clouded over and rained all night. However it was certainly a strong presence in the town, visible from everywhere including our hostel hammocks!
Next stop was Tortuguero, on the east coast of Costa Rica, a place described as ¨Venice in the jungle¨as it is based in a series of canals, with a thin strip of land for the village against the beach of the carribean ocean. It's famous for being a turtle nesting beach but we were going there in the off season, and mainly wanted to see a different kind of rainforest (with the obvious bonus of animal spotting whilst sitting leisurely in a canoe). When we got there though, we were told that the Leatherback turtles are nesting at the moment. Holy flip!! I have worked with 3 other species of sea turtle (I think there are 6 or 7 in the world) and Leatherbacks are the largest and most endangered. We spent the first 2 nights walking along the beaches avoiding the guides who would have made us pay $15. On the 3rd night we reluctantly paid the guide (who could take us further up the beach without fear of being mugged) and it paid off, we watched a 500kg, 160cm long old girl lay her eggs and return to the ocean. Magic.
We saw a huge amount of other stuff in Tortuguero either from a canoe or on foot. I caught 2 snakes in 2 days, much to Natalia's disgust afterwards when we found out they were both somewhat venomous. But I was careful! Check the photos for iguanas, basilisks, turtles, plenty of birds, spider monkeys... etc.
Natalia flew out of the city of San Jose the day before me. Very sad to see her go, we have had such a great time together and we (perhaps surprisingly) got along brilliantly and worked well together almost 24/7. She's off to New York and I'm off to London. Back to english speaking shiny expensive cities! My first dose of city life was sitting on the plane from LA to London for 10 hours next to a model and her model boyfriend going to london for a "shoot". They were Sooo LA. She told me what was going on in Vogue magazine and Who is Beautiful and Who is Not.
I'm currently hanging out in sunny and beautiful (yes really) London with a family I met in Thailand who have very kindly offered to put me up for a few nights. I just saw a fox in their backyard. They are getting ready for a big 50th party and want me to try all their cooking for the party. This is something I can help with. Unfortunately I don't feel I can truly repay the favour to them! I only got in this morning, which should have been midnight in LA but am powering on until at least 8.30pm before I go to bed. If this post doesn't make sense, that is why. Later this week I am catching up with a girl I met in Hiroshima who works for the London Police. I hoped she worked in Sun Hill but she crushed my hopes and said it doesn't exist.
Only a few more days until reality comes crashing down on me... see you all then....