The cloud forest in rainy season

Trip Start Aug 04, 2008
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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Puntarenas,
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On this day, Jesse and I decided to split up for a day, the first time we have done this.  Jesse wanted to get a beach day in before we got to San Jose, but I wanted to see the famous Costa Rican cloud forest of Monte Verde.  So he headed west toward Tamarindo beach, and I hung out for a couple of hours and then headed east into the mountains.

Before I left I did 2 things.  First I called the Suzuki dealer in San Jose to see if they could replace my fork seals.  My bike had been leaking oil from the front left fork.  The fork is the 2 tubes that connect the front wheel to the handlebar, and inside it is a big spring and a bunch of oil and some valves that the oil goes through when you hit a bump, which collectively make up the front suspension.  Each tube is actually 2 tubes, one of which slides into the other when you hit a bump, and where they overlap there is a rubber seal, and sometimes these begin to leak oil, which will affect the suspension after a while.  Also, fork oil can drip onto your front tire or brake, which clearly is not a good thing.  I had zip-tied a rag to the fork to catch the oil back in Antigua, but it needed to be fixed.  The Suzuki guy said no problem, he'd have the parts by Friday.

Second I went to a pharmacy to buy some ear wax removal drops, and contact my travel insurance.  My ears had been ringing after rides, and my hearing was muffled in 1 ear, I thought it was because of ear wax, but had not found a pharmacy that carried the drops.  I did here, and used the stuff.  Got a lot of wax out hearing was a little better, but still not good.  Bummer.

So off to Monteverde.  Once off CA1 this turned out to be a pretty gnarly dirt road.  Also it was raining for at least an hour every day, and was threatening to do so again.  After several wrong turns up even worse dirt roads, I was getting close.  Then around a corner I saw a huge backhoe sitting on a 20 ft high pile of dirt in the middle of what used to be the road around the side of a hill, excavating a dirtslide.  I was the only vehicle on the road, and I got off and was told not to worry, in 20 minutes the road would be passable.  Hard to believe.  As it turns out, what they mean was that in 20 minutes the backhoe would move off the big pile of dirt for me to try to ride over the big pile, about 150 feet long.  So the backhoe moves, and a small 125cc bike made its way over in front of me.  I was still doubtful, but with a guy offering to help to push if necessary, I made my way up the pile.  Slow and smooth, slow and sooth....  I saved the bike a couple of times, but it actually wasn't that hard.  Again the dirt gave decent traction and the motor pulled us through.

So I pulled in to the tiny town of Santa Elena once again at dusk, and by this time in a steady rain.  I cased a couple of cheap clean hotels, but ended up settling in at a hostel, because there were a couple of cute girls sitting on the porch.  The place was a true backpacker ghetto, but I got a room to myself with 2 bunk beds, a cement floor, one light bulb and a small window looking out on some half finished construction - par for the course.

The next morning I went on a tour of the cloud forest and a zip line canopy tour, and in the bus I met 3 Canadians, a couple and a friend of the girl, who I hung out with the rest of the day.  The tour was uneventful (boring), we had a couple of animal sightings but not a lot.  The zip line tour actually had little to do with the forest, it was basically a thrill ride, gliding above and through the forest canopy.  That evening Jesse joined me, and told me that Tamarindo had been a disappointment, but he managed to get a zip line tour in as well though it poured on him the whole time.  We then had dinner and met the Canadians for drinks, and that was that.  Not exciting, honestly, especially in retrospect.  The ride up was actually the highlight.
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