Barra Honda- Cave Dwelling

Trip Start Apr 28, 2009
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Trip End Mar 26, 2010


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Flag of Costa Rica  , Guanacaste,
Monday, September 7, 2009

Driving into Barra Honda, one of costa Rica’s many National Parks, we 
could already hear the Howler Monkeys... it was promising to be a good 
visit. As of yet, we haven’t seen many monkeys, and definitely not 
close up, so we were really hoping this would be our big chance. We 
pulled into our campsite for the night and had some lunch before 
beginning our tour through the park and into their famous caves with 
our two tour guides. We were told we could drive part of the way up 
the road in our car, if we wanted. We asked, as we always do, if they 
were sure the road was okay and if our car could make it. It was a 
dirt road (like most of Costa Rica’s roads) and from our vantage point 
it looked rather steep. We were assured, as always, that the road was 
fine.

After Wesley STRUGGLED up some very steep dirt roads it finally ground 
to a stop and wouldn’t go any further. It was just too steep and we 
had the extra weight of the two tour guides. So we parked good ‘ol 
Wesley and let him rest while we started the hike. I was able to 
practice a lot of my Spanish as neither tour guide really spoke 
English. We learned about some of the rainforest’s medicinal plants 
and how to say White and Black Faced Monkey in Spanish. After awhile 
our tour guides came to a stop and hushed us. Above us there was a 
whole group of White Faced Monkeys... including babies. They were so 
close and we were able to get a good view as they swung from branch to 
branch.

We hiked for about 45 minutes before we got to the caves. At the cave 
entrance our guides set up the ropes as we put on our harnesses. We 
had to go straight down into the cave, 40 meters, on ladders that were 
tied together. I was the first to go... here goes nothing! I climbed 
over the edge and into the darkness as my feet found the ladder and my 
hands clasped the dirty, mucky rungs. It was really exhilarating and 
before long I was at the bottom getting my head lamp from one guide 
that was in the cave. One guide stayed outside the cave and feed the 
rope that was attached to my harness as I went down. So if anything 
would have happened the rope would have pulled tight and caught me 
through a slip knot. Next came Devin and then his mom, they both did a 
great job.

Once we were inside the cave we spent a few minutes enjoying the 
stalactites and stalagmites before continuing on. It was really 
slippery and we were all a little scared of falling. However, it was 
beautiful inside and really serene. We saw bats, toads, and many 
interesting formations. There were three caves in all but to get to 
the other two you had to squeeze through some really tight spots. 
Since Devin’s mother didn’t feel like squeezing through or doing any 
rock climbing she stayed in the first cave while Devin and I went on to 
the other two. In the second cave we saw old coral reef from when 
there was water in the cave, pretty amazing. The cave was amazing and 
it was so much fun being able to climb all around it.

After climbing back up the 40 meter ladder we began our hike back. On 
the way we were luckily again and saw some howler monkeys, again with 
babies. Our tour guides started ‘howling’ at them and the monkeys 
began howling back! It was amazing! The baby just watched us as the 
Matriarch bellowed at us in the most out-of-this-world voice. It’s 
this deep, throaty grunt that is really scary. It sounds like 
something our of a thriller movie.

That night we stayed in the park. We were all very tired from our 
adventure and we enjoyed just lazing around. After dark, Devin was 
writing a blog while Bev and I were just relaxing. All of the sudden, 
Bev said she saw something run down the road but Devin and I both 
missed it. About 20 minutes later she spotted something again and I 
looked over to see something running down the road. It stopped just on 
the edge of the road and turned to look at us. It stared for a good 
few second, it’s eyes glowing in the dark, before it took off into the 
forest. It appeared to be something from the canine family and it was 
thrilling to see it in it’s natural habitat.

That night we all slept soundly listening to the sounds of the jungle...
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