Day 11: Monteverde

Trip Start Mar 05, 2005
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Trip End Mar 20, 2005


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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

With only one full day to spend in the Monteverde area, we aimed to pack a lot into a short time. The morning's scheduled activity was an included guided hike through the cloud forest, followed by a stop at a women's co-op and bakery for lunch.

Unfortunately, just as I'd feared, the previous ten days along with the lack of sleep caught up to me, and I awoke feeling like a truck had run over me. It was pretty clear I wasn't going anywhere. Everyone left for the hike and I did my best to catch a few hours of sleep.

The Monteverde nature hike that I missed featured beautiful plants, scenery, and cool birds.

By late morning, I had to make a decision as to whether I felt well enough to get up and ready for the canopy tour. I'd been looking forward to it for the entire trip, ever since I saw it advertised in the San Josť airport, and this was my one chance to go. I pushed myself to get dressed and walk down the road to the nearby soda for some lunch. That helped a lot, so I swallowed some Tylenol cold and decided to make the best of it. And I'm extremely glad I did, because the canopy tour was probably the highlight of the entire trip.

A canopy tour, for anyone unfamiliar, is not really a "tour". Instead, it's an adventure where you go ziplining over the treetops from one platform to the next. Only three of us had signed up for it; everyone else was either afraid of heights or not interested for whatever reason. In my opinion they missed out.

We took a van ride up to the base lodge for Selvatura, the company running the tour. Upon arrival, we got suited up in helmets, gloves, and climbing harnesses with clips to hold us up on the ziplines. The guides gave us a brief tutorial on what to do. Basically, it amounted to crossing your ankles, keeping your knees up, using your back hand to control your speed, and having a good time. Simple, right?

There was a very large group and I was wondering how everyone would go without it getting too crowded, but it worked itself out because things just kept moving. We waited in line for the first zipline, but after that, we were off.

The first line was a true rush. I'd had no idea what to expect. But flying over the treetops was absolutely exhilarating. It didn't even feel all that high, since the treetops created an illusion of ground.

At each platform, a guide would unclip us from one zipline and clip us onto the next one. Sometimes, they hand-signalled to us to control our speed by either gripping the line to break, or not gripping the line to speed up. It was very easy to control and even kids were doing it. The ride was exciting but we felt totally safe in all our gear. Kirsten, Allen and I all kept switching cameras in order to take photos of each other flying through the air.

About two-thirds of the way through the ziplines, there was a spot where we could go on a Tarzan swing. Speaking of adrenaline rushes, this was the ultimate. Basically, it was what it sounded like; a big rope that we would be clipped to and could go swinging through the air. The scariest part was letting go at the top, because you basically just step backwards off a platform and freefall through the air. What a rush!

After the Tarzan swing, the remaining ziplines felt lower key, and they went quickly. By the end, we were all disappointed that it was over and we wanted to go again. Unfortunately it was all, and we headed back to town.

When we got back to the hotel, we were shown a short slideshow presentation about the history of the Monteverde reserve. Founded by American Quakers opposed to militarism who were attracted to Costa Rica because of a lack of army, the reserve and town were very small and under-developed until recently. We saw photos of the first telephone, the first tractor... it was pretty cool. The presentation was given in Spanish, and Julie did a first-rate job translating. There's also a coffee plantation at Monteverde, and as a thank-you for our token donations for the slideshow, we all got bags of ground coffee to take home with us. Mmmmmm.

After the slideshow, we went out for a nice dinner and then went to sleep.

Next: Drive to the Pacific coast
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