Day 5-8: Monteverde

by - July 25, 2009

Lake Arenal

Day 5 - Saturday 25th July 2009

Our last morning in La Fortuna consisted of breakfast and a tidy up.  At half past 8 a minibus collected us and took us to Lake Arenal.  We then caught a boat across the lake, which despite the rain was very scenic.  The was followed by another bus trip, this one from the other side of Lake Arenal to the town of Monteverde.  The last minibus journey was pretty epic as we climbed from the shore of the lake on a dirt track up the side of some impressive peaks.  The woman who was driving one of the minibuses decided to help us with our accommodation (as we had failed to sort it out ourselves).  We therefore managed to stay at a place which was on budget, but frankly a bit basic.

After we had sorted ourselves out a bit, we were given some jobs to do by the new team leader, Hugo.  Mine was fairly simple - find out whether the main attractions in the town would be open on a Sunday - the answer to which was yes.  My evening was therefore pretty free and at around 5 I went for a walk with Hannah, Daniel and Rob.  It was the local celebration of “the annexation of Monteverde” so lots of people were out and there was some singing and dancing.  Unfortunately this was curtailed by a powercut and a thunderstorm.  We ran back to our hostel and sat around while dinner was cooked.  The other group was in town, so some people met up with them, but I was tired so went to bed early.

Day 6 - Sunday 26th July 2009

The hostel that we had managed to find yesterday could only cater for us for one night, so in the morning we walked to another nearby hostel which was actually far better.  Before we could move however we had to pack and as I did so I thought I had lost my money belt.  After 10 minutes of frantic searching, I managed to find it, but it was a stark warning about keeping track of things.  Once at the new hostel on the edge of town we were able to clean up a bit and have showers before heading off into town for lunch.

The only thing that we had really planned for the afternoon was to go to the local serpentarium and for the rest of the time we didn’t have too much to do.  The serpentarium was amazing and I got to hold two snakes, one of which was a Boa Constrictor, and a turtle.  We were also told about which snakes were venomous, which we all listened too attentively, knowing that we would be staying in the jungle later in the month. My group was in charge of the evening meal and we decided to stray from the now generic pasta dish and went for a chicken salad with (something - poor handwriting) with pineapple for dessert.  It was a bit harder to cook, but worth it as the meal was very good.  We went over to the hostel of the other group in the evening, but soon left as it was a bit dull.  When we got back it turned out that one of the keys had been locked in the room.  Luckily we had Chris with us, who had learned how to pick locks while serving in the forces - which was amazingly cool to see.  That night there was a massive storm and none of us were really able to sleep.

Day 7 - Monday 27th July 2009

A night’s sleep that had only yielded about two hours of actual sleep left me very tired in the morning.  My first job was to collect the assorted bits of clothes that had been scattered around the hostel by the night’s storm - which was possibly the tail end of a hurricane.  At  o'clock we met the guide who was going to take us on a tour around some cloud forest.  He had come with a minibus so drove us there.  On the way, we stopped and got out as he had found a sloth in a tree which we looked at with his high quality telescope binocular thing.  Once we were there the tour followed a similar pattern, with him walking in the lead and stopping us if he saw anything major.

In this fashion we saw (and were able to take photos of) several birds, butterflies, bugs and monkeys.  The main destination for the walk was a hummingbird farm.  This was really good and I got some clear close ups of the birds.  Almost as good was the chocolate brownie I had at the cafe.  I had been feeling ill in the morning, but the brownie recovered my appetite.  The walk back was similar and we saw a few bits and pieces.  The afternoon was fairly free, so we all relaxed a bit around the town.  We all met up again ready for a buffet dinner which was really nice.  A few people went into town for a drink, but after last night’s storm I was dying to get to sleep.

Day 8 - Tuesday 28th July 2009

Yet another early morning as we were heading for the zip wire canopy tour.  We walked into town to the tourist office and from there got a bus out to the cloud forest where the zip wire would be taking place.  Once there we were harnessed up and given a brief demonstration before climbing up the first tower and going down the first wire.  The first few were fairly slow, as we got used to our equipment.  The brakes consisted of special gloves which were used to hold the wire in order to slow down.  After a dew wires we really got into it and went down with a fair bit of pace.  The fifth wire was long enough for me to record a journey (with questionable success).  The tenth stop was a ‘tarzan swing’ - basically a rope which we swang from.  This was pretty daunting, but worth it.

The last stop was the famous 1km wire above the canopy.  For this we went down in a pair (me with Rob).  I was at the front with the camera and he was on the back with the brakes.  The wire was about 200m above the ground and was really impressive.  Gallingly, my recording failed which I was very annoyed about.  We got a lift back into town, had a bit of lunch, changed some money and then caught the bus back to San Jose.  The journey was scenic, but a bit hot and sticky.  Once at the bus terminal we had a bit of a mess up as we all got into unregistered taxis.  Luckily we didn’t die and got to the hostel.  We went to the same gigolo restaurant as before, then to the hostel bar and then to bed.

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