Dynargh dhe'n Blogofrob

Wednesday 9th March 2011

Having been gone from Costa Rica for a few days, when I look back on it, I think of beautiful forested mountains, sun-scorched dusty streets, tough sabanero cowboys, and borderline dysentery.

It was sad to leave Argentina. George found it so hard to let go that she continued to attempt to spend Argentinian currency in Costa Rican establishments. However, the sun was shining when we landed in San Jose. We left that city straight away, and headed north, towards the cloud forests of Monteverde. The long drive to San Elena (the small main town in the area)came after the long flight from Buenos Aires via Lima, so it was lovely to arrive at our hotel, be shown to our room, a small cabin on the edge of the jungle, and watch the glow worms floating around in the dark outside.

"Eco-tourism" is big in Costa Rica, and particularly in Monteverde. I'm not sure exactly what Eco tourism is, but it always seems to involve zip-lining. And so it did here. The following morning we found ourselves in an eco theme park, occupying several thousand acres of the cloud forest. Our ticket first entitled us to walk a trail, a concreted path around part of the forest, occasionally interrupted by narrow footbridges, which took you over the forest at the top of the canopy. The forest itself was beautiful - the giant trees, dripping in moss, continued unceasing into the distance, the clouds breezed though, every now and again deigning to rain on us. But we wanted to see some animals - a couple of monkeys maybe, or one of those funny guinea pig things. Unfortunately, there wasn't a chance of this, owing mainly to the gangs of tourists who march up and down the path very loudly discussing the price of fish. Any wild creature has long since scarpered - even, I noticed, the birds.

In the afternoon came the inevitable zip line. A series of these send you speeding through and over the trees, giving you (if you're able to concentrate at such speed) amazing views of the forest. This was good fun - especially the 1km long line that George and I did in tandem over a huge valley - but it was tarnished by the fact that we were in a group of around 25 people, and spent much of the time sitting around waiting. On leaving the Eco theme park, we resolved to visit the nature reserve proper the following day, in order to avoid the other tourists and walk a proper trail.

Sadly our resolution did not take into account the painful and tenacious stomach bug with which I was struck down that evening. By morning, I had a fever. I made it with George to the nature reserve, but about 20 minutes into our walk I resolved to turn back, as I was feeling uncommonly cold, my teeth were chattering and my hands had turned blue. This was not before we spied a giant tarantula by the side of the path, all legs and hair. George carried on for another 7km or so, and said she had a lovely walk.

On our last night in Costa Rica, we found ourselves, after a day traveling north, in a town called Liberia. I was still suffering vile complications from the bug, and it was with reluctance that I stumbled out of our hotel behind George, in order to find some supper. But I'm glad I did. We got to the main street to find a huge festival underway, apparently celebrating the proud sabanero culture of Guanacaste, of which Liberia is the capital. The street was packed, in either direction as far as i could see, with hundreds of cowboys and girls on top of hundreds of very excitable horses, madly stamping their hooves up and town. I had the impression they were weirdly dancing to the music which blared from brass bands sat in the back of pick up trucks, slowly motoring between the horses. It was a spectacular sight.


142 - posted at 20:57:00

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