We bought tickets at Selvatura for the zip line canopy tour and the treetop walkways. We understand that the zip line route takes you about 1.5 miles through the cloud forest
. The boys impressed us by being able to identify the kinds of harnesses and safety equipment we were using from their rock climbing camp. The explanation of how to zip line is pretty straightforward and it is very easy to do. Selvatura seemed to have excellent safety procedures in place as well. All this did not stop mom from being pretty terrified of the whole thing. Still, you never know 'til you try. Off we went. Most of the zips you do alone, but some you do with one or two others to increase your weight and allow you to go farther/faster. You are up high above the treetops and the views on a day like today, when the weather was clear, are absolutely incredible. Mike and the kids had an absolute blast. Alex was ready to go again. Mom appreciated how cool it was, but still has a fear of heights. Mom’s favorite part was seeing an eagle soar nearby, up at her height, as she went by. Alex got to see a monkey during a zip when he was with a guide who pointed it out.
At the end of the zip tour they have a grand finale called the Tarzan Swing. You climb a tower up 26 feet and they hook you to a rope and you step off. There is a free fall until your rope hits taught on your harness and then you start to swing. As you swing you twist around. Josh and Kate went for the gusto and loved it. Alex backed out about halfway up and regretted it afterward. Mom had had enough and Dad was too big for safety (cut off is about 180lbs)
We ditched our safety gear, bought some drinks and headed out on the skywalk. It crisscrosses about 1.5 miles through and above the cloud forest canopy. Part of the time you walk on paths, the rest you traverse long, high suspension bridges. We thought this would be our big chance to see animals, but some combination of the time of year, the noise of people and our inability to see creatures that hide conspired against us to keep us from seeing much but bugs. We were much better at finding insects and butterflies than anything else.
We finished up about 1pm and were famished. Selvatura provides a free shuttle back to town. We got dropped off a little ways from our house, but decided to try and track down a Spanish restaurant that Richard highly recommended. It was another long, rocky, hilly walk, but turned out to be completely worth it. The restaurant is called Sabor Espanol. The owners are Spanish, originally from an island near Mallorca (home of Raphael Nadal). They specialize in "Paella, sangria, meats and seafood dishes." They greeted us with two small glasses of sangria and three small glasses of Fresca. I would have loved to try the paella, but we didn’t want to wait the 40 minutes that special dish takes to create. Alex had a grilled chicken dish, wanting to be conservative
. Kate and Mom ordered chicken with mangoes which came with cous cous and yucca chips. Dad enjoyed a version of steak au poivre with mushrooms and Josh was the big winner. He had skewers with chicken and bacon-wrapped bananas with a cherry sauce. The kids each drank a mango smoothie, Dad had an Imperial and mom enjoyed a full glass of sangria. What a delightful meal! The owners could not have been nicer. The food was excellent all around. Josh declared his food one of the best dishes he has had in his whole life. Our table was next to a large, sliding-glass window which opened onto a lovely garden. In the garden were hummingbird feeders, nectar flowers and a couple ripe bananas left out to attract birds. We saw far more birds during lunch than we did at any time during our trip to the reserve, which we found a little ironic. The owner explained that from December through April the place is teeming with birds, including large ones like toucans. We were having such a good time and enjoyed the food so much that we stayed for dessert. Kate had grilled pineapple with cocoanut ice cream and a rum sauce (gaining a taste for pina coladas early), Josh had a crepe with strawberries and Alex had a crepe with Nutella. The plates were clean, clean, clean at the end. GPS coordinates of Sabor Espanol are N10 19.716 W084 50.344.
Kate had seen some carved wooden figures in the gift shop at Selvatura that she liked. We walked by a local artisan’s shop on the way to the restaurant and we decided to stop in on the way back to look around. It is called Souvenir Rosewood (firstname.lastname@example.org). You could find it using the GPS coordinates of the restaurant. We walked in and started chatting with the female owner. She asked us if we would like to see the sloth that lives in their garden. She called in her husband and he offered to take us on a tour of the whole garden
. He propagates rare orchids. These orchids are grown with other trees as their hosts. He starts and orchid on a tree and they naturalize over time. Most of them are tiny, but the collection is amazing. Licho, the male owner and our guide, says that the quantity of blooms varies over the course of the year. This is effectively low season for orchids. He also grows, coffee, papaya, herbs and sugar cane for the use of his family. He offered to cut a piece of sugar cane for us to try. “Wait hear while I get my machete,” he said in Spanish. First he demonstrated how to use it and then gave each of us a turn skinning the cane stick. Then he sliced it up into chunks for us to chew and shared some with his dogs who love it. He told us that they soak chunks in water to make a sweet drink. They don’t process their cane into sugar. He showed us an oregano leaf that is larger than an adult hand. He handed mom two bunches of mint for tea, saying he prefers one over the other for that use. Then he walked us back to his workshop where he takes found wood, including rosewood, and turns it into art, mostly kitchen pieces like bowls and cutting boards, but also puzzle boxes and toys. He showed us how he uses his lathe to turn a bowl. Then he gave each of us a try. We did an excellent job spraying shavings everywhere. Then he demonstrated sanding it down and waxing a piece to a finished shine. We were all very taken with how generous he was with time and his garden and workshop.
We went back into the shop to, of course, buy a few gifts to take home. His wife makes jewelry, much of it out of rolled paper. A pair of earrings costs $3. Kate bought some of those and we also purchased, among other things, a giant wooden bowl for popcorn on movie nights. Just before we left we asked if the sloth had a name. Licho started laughing and said they call him Richard, after the Richard who takes care of our house, but they would deny it if we told him. This is pretty funny because Richard is a slow, deliberate guy of very few words. We said our goodbyes and expressed our thanks and headed back home. On the way back it struck us as pretty impressive that we have been in the country only 3 days and we are already able to make jokes with Costa Ricans about a mutual acquaintance, in Spanish. How cool is that?
About a half hour after we arrived home, it started to rain. We have a near panoramic view and the sun was still shining pretty well, so we went on Rainbow watch. At 6pm we saw it: our first rainbow at Rainbow House. Un dia increible!
PS- Last night after we uploaded the blog we popped a DVD from the local collection in. We watched part of disc 1 of the Alfred Hitchcock Collection, “The Lady Vanishes.” Recommend.
Wow. What a day! This will be a long entry because it was a day jam-packed with activity. We started early because we told Richard, our house caretaker, that we would be ready to go by 7. He offered to take us to a local adventure park called Selvatura (selvatura.com) where he gets a 10% discount. Richard drives a Suzuki that is an adventure experience all its own. It has half its windows, no seatbelts, the gas tank sits inside the passenger compartment and it has to be hot-wired to start. Combine this with six people trundling up a road that looks like it is washed out regularly and you have an unforgettable ride. We found out afterward that Richard's car is actually illegal so he has to be careful not to drive it when the police are in town.