With our heads in the clouds

Trip Start Feb 01, 2006
Trip End May 01, 2006

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Thursday, March 23, 2006

Today we did what we came to Santa Elena/Monteverde to do.

Santa Elena itself is very small and seems to live off the tourist traffic and there seems to be plenty.

Costa Rica so far has been a different experience than the other Central American countries because of the amount and type of tourism that's going on here. It has suddenly became common for us to meet people who are only travelling within Costa Rica on vacation.

Taking tours is the big thing in Santa Elena (and Monteverde) since this is where they do the zipline tours through the Cloud Forest. All of this is very expensive so this is not the kind of place budget travellers would want to hang around too long.

Today we did the skywalk which is 2.5 kms of trails plus six suspension bridges. We didnt see too much wild life but lots of birds...tons of hummingbirds, vultures, parrots, toucans and een the elusive quetzal.

Then we did the skytrek which is a zip line canopy tour which is brilliant! After being fitted into a body harness and given pointers on how the zip line works, we walked quite a while to get to the first platform....and took the challenge. The first slide was short and not very high, allowing us all to get used to the feel and the equipment.

The second platform was about 100 feet up and we only had to climb up a short staircase to get to the platform. It connected to another platform so far away that we could not see the next platform hidden in the trees and jungle growth.

Have to admit that it was all a bit frightening at first. This line was longer and we must have been about 250 feet off the jungle floor!

Looking down was awesome. We didnt think we would have much of a chance to see anything while travelling about 40 mph, but it was great. Then we had two ziplines right through the jungle..you think you are sure to hit the trees...it is like being in a tunnel of green foliage.

After a few more zips, we really started to enjoy the views and the thrill of the ride.
In total, we did 11 cables ranging in length from 120 to 2310 feet and from 60 to 460 feet in height.

The last two we had to do in tandem (as couples) because of the wind and the possibility of stopping mid-cable. We got extremely muddy and wet but we didnt care because it was just so awesome. We would recommend this to anyone!

We had another great experience as well. In attempting to practice my Spanish I was chatting with the woman that cleaned our guest house. I mentioned that we may take a coffee plantation tour. She said that her father had a finca and why didnt we just go out there and walk around...that her dad would love visitors and would explain the whole process.

What she didnt say is that no one in the family spoke a word of English and somehow her dad thought I spoke fluent Spanish. It made for a fun afternoon...instead of some canned tourist tour, we got to visit with a remarkable Costa Rican family for an afternoon, and get a coffee tour at the same time.

It was rather interesting that this was quite an event for them...the woman who brought us essentially disappeared for a while, the papa did all the talking, the mama made us coffee and cake, lots of kids chatted away, eventually and all the other family members arrived from adjacent properties. They all waited at the road until our taxi came to take us back. There were hugs and kisses all around and for us it was muy interesante!
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