Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica: Day 2

Awake at first light despite only a few hours of sleep last night due to our crazy 20 hour travel day yesterday. I just couldn’t wait to get my first daytime look at Costa Rica. It was just as I imagined – forest green mostly but with a hint of yellow tinge intermittently throughout, Nicola below, spurts of rainforest rain and spurts of not so gentle and quite unpredictable wind – unlike the gentle breeze we had in Nicaragua – the kind of wind that will pick my little 115 lbs up and carry me all the way back to Kansas if it felt so compelled and that’s without having to click my heels thrice.

Next was panqueques and, if you can believe it, my first hot shower since my arrival in Central America and while it may have been the best shower I can remember having, it was also the shortest as there was no way I wanted us to miss the bus to Selvatura Park. I had dreamed of this place decades ago and while I’ve done ziplining a/k/a canopy both in Panama and Laos, I had not done it in the Monteverde Cloud Forest and I haven’t yet gotten to fly like Superman or swing like Tarzan…two things I’ve been dying to do. (Whoops…perhaps not the best choice of words.)

Turns out I’m not alone. You’ve got to give Costa Rica some serious props for their marketing skills as this is likely the most touristy activity I’ve experienced in another country to date. It’s no Disneyland but Selvatura Adventure Park (one of many canopy parks) alone apparently gets over 500 tourists a day during the high season at anywhere from $65 to $85USD a pop depending on whether you want to do the Superman or hike through the park and cross all the suspension bridges as well as zip line or not. (The answer is a resounding yes, by the way, you most definitely want to do both.) Even the lodging is more expensive in CR as is the food and transportation compared to some of the other Central American countries and I figure it is largely because of these zip lining parks CR is so well known for.

In any event, hold onto your hats as you are in for a day of fun and tremendous views of CR and the mysticism of its cloud forest – that’s if you can master the absolutely insane excuse for roads in this area. Imagine a cliff on one side and a mountain on the other. Imagine rocks, no sealant on the roads and zero traction and nothing to prevent the wheels on the car from back sliding to the bottom despite your obvious insistence that you want to go up not to mention driving through a river or two! Let’s just say it is often one step forward and two steps back when driving in this area of CR but we finally made it and without any cliff diving or drowning although there was a close call once.

Upon arrival, we excitedly stepped into our harnesses, hooked on our carabiners, strapped on our sexy helmets, and donned our brakes otherwise known as gloves and started our hike. 12 zip lines later and enthusiastic grins from all participants and then we heard it. It was a horror movie scream that LITERALLY shook me to the core. It was our new friend Ashton from California – the first to attempt the Tarzan. Our guide, with no warning whatsoever, had her on the edge of the platform and gave her an unexpected shove and simultaneously yelled “oh wait not yet”.

Yes! Everything was okay! It was just a little humor on the part of the guide but no one expected it and as I finished my climb to the top of the platform for my own shove into the abyss my hands were vibrating violently with a fear I hadn’t even felt prior to volcano boarding, hand gliding, paramotoring, rock climbing or any of the other insane activities I have set out to do on my world tour. The only fear I’ve experienced that was remotely like what I was feeling on that platform after Ashton screamed was the fear and loathing I experienced prior to singing karaoke for the first time in Little Corn last week. (Actually, don’t tell anyone but the karaoke was much worse.)

After the initial shock from Ashton’s scream subsided and as a result of my unwillingness to ever look down not even for a second, down into the oblivion I went and surprisingly I freaking loved it. I recommend it to everyone brave enough. Remember if you’re not scared, it’s not brave!

Now onto the last and final 1 km zip line. Have you ever had a dream wherein you were flying? Have you ever watched Superman, Peter Pan or, for you youngsters, Ironman, and said if I could have any super power it would be flying? Have you ever said I would go through all that craziness you have to go through to become an astronaut just so you can experience no gravity? Well for me the answer is YES to all these questions. I think I must have been a bird in a past life or I’m in line to be an angel in the next life (not likely) because I have ALWAYS wanted to fly. Today I did. For the first 3/4 of the trip I was soaring through the cloud forest, eyes filling with inadvertent tears and I was mesmerized by the views below me. The Superman harness is hands down the safest and least frightening way to do ziplining and you don’t have to do anything except lie there and coast. It was breathtaking.

You caught that I said 3/4 of the way didn’t you? Yes I got stuck out there. I was suspended out there by myself hundreds maybe more off the ground. Talk about bloopers! Good news I wasn’t afraid…not even remotely. I was at peace seeing the world through God’s eyes. Not sure if everyone would have fared so well though. No worries they rescue quickly but only if you agree to buy them a beer 😉

And the day wasn’t over yet. Ashton, Danielle, Amira, Marcus, Nick and I hiked through the cloud forest and came upon the infamous suspension bridges. The rules?? What rules! Oh yeah no swinging, no running, no jumping, but nothing at all about yoga poses or leap frogging!

It was an exhilarating day and one for the record books.

That’s all for now. Lots of love and a scream or two from Monteverde.

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