. Once in town I repaid the boys for the free ride, by buying them a $3 dinner... I am so thoughtful. I was so shocked when we entered Costa Rica, everything is so modern and touristy and in English! I had been traveling for so long and sure some things are built up for tourists, but you still had to work a bit to get there... it wasn't just put on a platter for you like in Costa Rica. However, that "platter" comes with more money... I have to get out of here quick!
I loved Santa Elena (small town near Monteverde), after almost dying from heat in Nicaragua the higher elevation, which means cooler air, was a godsend. After dropping off laundry (much needed) we headed to the Cloud Forest to ride the Zip Lines and walk across the suspension bridges. They are call Cloud Forests because most of the time they are covered in clouds. The plants, instead of getting their moisture from the ground (they do get some from there), they pull the moisture out of the clouds. Therefore the top of the trees are very thick, with not much growth along the ground. Anyway, after getting set up with all needed safety equipment and the all important zip-wire-holder-thing, we were off. The first two lines were short, so that we could get a feel for it. After that they got longer and longer, and higher and higher. It seemed so easy... you just sit there and go across. But for some reason, I kept getting turned around
! On one of the lines I spun all the way around and ended up backwards. I was a bit scared, cause the trees come pretty close to the lines. Anyway, it was so much fun! The highest zip line is about 180 meters above the ground. We had a great time, and even though there were 11 lines, I was sad when we were done. After a short break we headed out to walk on the suspension bridges... called a Sky Walk. They were really nice and gave you a birds eye view of the valleys they stretched across. Once we got to the third bridge, Paul was joking around and said "lets race across". I thought it was a great idea! So we took turns running across, as I timed everyone. Paul was the winner, with Tim a close second. I was a far off third, cause I was laughing so hard as I ran (don't mean to make excuses). It was so fun! We were a bit boring and just walked the rest. Back in town we just roamed a bit before it was time for the last night of the Monteverde Music Festival. After taking a cab up to the amphitheatre, we were blown away by the band. They are called Evolucion and they are the best Spanish-Rock band in Costa Rica. They were awesome. Just two guys with guitars and a drum, who had everyone singing along and taping their toes. I liked the show so much, I even bought a CD. This is the first CD I have purchased in about 10 years. After the show we went down and met the band (basically we were groupies). We wanted to stay and talk to them more, but the bar was calling our names. There wasn't very many people when we walked in, so we were able to get the best seat in the house..
. or at least it became the best seat in the house. We had a few drinks (by a few I mean A LOT!), danced a few dances (I was a salsa master), and basically out partied the Rockstars (the band went home before we did). It was great fun... at the time.
The next morning, I had to put forth an effort to breath. Everything hurt, mostly my head and my stomach. It was a rough morning, but little did I know it would get rougher. After saying good bye to the boys, who had to get down to catch their flight home, I got hit with a major case of homesickness. I read through all the words of encouragement that my family wrote me, but that only made me cry more. I won't go into detail, but it was not fun! I was able to Instant Message with my sister Cori, which helped a lot. I'm pretty sure it was a mixture of knowing other people are going home and being really hung over, but I was a mess. I went to bed early after meeting my new roommate.
However, the problem with going to bed sad, is that you usually wake up sad. It was hard... here I am in Costa Rica, which is suppose to be a really happy place, and my whole heart just hurt. After calling home, and talking to my parents and Jason, I headed out on a walk. I walked all the way to the coffee shop outside the amphitheatre
. It was a beautiful day and the temperature was perfect. I stopped in a few shops and spent time writing in my journal. The three hour walk really helped me get centered again and back to my happy self. In town Adam (the new roommate) and I headed out on a night tour through the cloud forest. That is after I accidentally ran into the Stupid Swiss girls again. I thought they had left the area and when home!!! Ug! Anyway, the first thing we saw was a two-toed sloth, then after walking a while, I started to get board. Then our guide stopped us and started poking a stick around in a hole. He said their was a Teranchula in the hole, but I wasn't impressed. Then all of a sudden this HUGE SPIDER came up out of the whole. It was black with bright orange knees and very fuzzy. I was freaking out! The tour had just became about a thousand times better. But I didn't have my camera out, so I missed it. However, we walked on a bit further and sure enough he poked around in another hole. Then an even BIGGER tarantula came out! It was about the size of the palm of my hand... gave me the he-be ge-bees. Yikes! We also saw another sloth, with a baby and lots of leaf ants... actually a whole leaf ant colony, which looks like a giant mound of dirt. It was huge, about 4-feet high with ants crawling all around it. Back in town Adam and I had dinner and I told him how homesick I had been. He told me that around the three month mark is when it usually hits him too... I was at 12 weeks.
The next morning I got out and about just in time to catch the shuttle to the Santa Elana Cloud Forest Reserve. As van climbed high into the mountains, the temperature dropped more and more. That is when I realized, I was not dressed appropriately and was going to freeze to death. When I started my hike, it was raining lightly, I just hoped it stayed that way. I hiked super fast in order to stay warm. I ended up going all the way around the reserve in about 2 hours and 15 minutes... the guy said that hike usually takes about 3 1/2 hours. I did stop and see some great plants and some beautiful valleys. However, due to the rain the vistas weren't very spectacular... in fact you couldn't see anything. The hike was defiantly what I needed. Afterward I was feeling good and very happy. The rest of the day I worked on pictures until my friend Maddie (from Isla Ometepe) emailed me saying she was in Santa Elana, at my hostel. I ran down there to see her and Dan. We finished the evening playing an intense game of Chinesse Checkers.
Time for a new city!
Well, I woke up pretty hung over, but no time for that... got to get a move on. Since I was unable to get money out of an ATM (no ATM's on the Island) I decided to head to a new country. Paul and Tim (the Canadian Boys) were heading back to Costa Rica, so I decided just to go with them. Since they were only on a short 2-week vaca, and had to be in San Jose in 3 days, we cab'ed it to the border. I was a bit worried, cause everything I had read said that Costa Rica was very strict about having and onward ticket (proof that you are leaving the country), and I didn't have one. So we walk the 200 yards from Nicaragua to Costa Rica and there was no problem... he just stamped away. On the other side, in stead of spending 9 hours on a bus to Monteverde, the boys decided to cab it there too. It cost $100!!! Which was way out of my budget, but they were so great and let me ride along for free. We even stopped at Burger King (my first fast food) and for beers along the way. Our driver was so safe, he limited himself to three beers as he drove (mom I am sure that makes you happy)