Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Travelog from the Past: Part II

San Jose, Costa Rica, La Rosa American
We are served fruit and cake with a  Nutella center for breakfast. I had gotten up early and did a little Tai Chi while supervising the girls during their swim. Bugs are big here and some are quite large indeed. At night there are huge beetles that bumble around in the air, quite harmless, but a lot bigger than I have ever seen. Some of these are in the pool this morning, causing girly screams and gross outs. We pack and herd the students onto the bus. Away we go! Annette and I both get carsick so we are granted the seat behind the driver. It is a rough and windy ride. I manage to get through most of it by doing acupressure on an inner arm point known as P6. Finally I have to go to sleep, this always helps. 

Our next hotel is Los Lagos just outside of the town of La Fortuna and on the side of an active volcano. It is expansive and sort corny. The pool has water slide that would never be allowed in the U. S., though safe enough, I suppose.

After a hike first down  endless stairs to a water fall then back up endless staris we are allowed to have lunch. The educational part of the day is a tour of a Botanical Preserve. Located in the middle of fields, it simply represents 7 years of zero cultivation. Secondary jungle growth appeared after 4 years and then the animals started coming back. We encounter broad billed herons and sloths. Our guide, Diego is really good and able to keep the kids' interest. He tells about the interconnectedness of species and special uses of plants. At the preserve they are growing endangered species and selling them cheap to national forests and whoever wants them. The mosquitoes are fearsome and despite the use of repellent I get bit, a lot. Mosquito bites are always problematical for me, I itch and swell more than average and if I get too many I feel just bad. Invariably I will get bit bit on the eyelid, like happened on a school trip two years ago and will be horribly misshapen for a couple days. I am not the only one grateful to return to our hotel to have a swim and dinner. 

Canopy Tour, La Fortuna, Costa Rica
After breakfast we are bussed out to the beginning of journey into the Rainforest Canopy tour. I am disappointed because Dexter (my son) pleads fear of heights and is not going. I suspect he prefers some time away from the group, I tell him to have a good time and we will all miss him and I'll tell him about it at dinner.

First we are helmeted (color:yellow) and mounted on scrappy little hackamored horses. Mine is named Bin Laden, it is important to remember your horse's name, you want to get the same one for the return trip. The guide gives the steering and stopping instructions, adding it is OK to pass. He tells us to watch the horse's ears because it will tell you the mood of animal and may indicate that you have to re-position. It is OK to trot. The horses are all over the trail, unlike trail horses in the U.S. who seem content to plod sadly in a line, going a bit faster on the way home. Many of us do trot at the urging of the guide, who cracks his whip and whoops. It is raining a little and there's much mud at the corral where we leave our steeds. We are fitted with harnesses like one wears for rappelling, we get to keep our lovely helmets, then after one last pee and water break, it is up, up up, so many steps....and we are in the Rainforest. 

At a platform we get a safety lecture and instructions. The basic idea is one goes sailing through the forest hundreds of feet above the floor suspended from cables strung tree to tree, each ending in a platform requiring a variety of landing techniques which one must instantly acquire. Once the harness is hooked on to the cable you have to sit back,  lift your knees and cross your ankles. One hand is on your hook up and the other, sporting a thick leather slab is on the cable and keeps you upright and when you pull down slows and can stop you. We hike another fifteen minutes to the starting platform. Surprisingly, I don't feel nervous or scared. Mel suddenly decides to send some adults along and before I know it I am being connected to the cable. I assume the position and am flying out over and through the jungle. It is a real "be here now" kind of thing, steadying with the one hand, trying to breath, wanting to not go fast, but fast enough to get to the next platform...... It doesn't really make a difference that we are in the jungle, you would have the same experience anywhere the first time out.  I land well slowing at the right time, but climbing up stairs attached to a tree to the next cable my legs are shaking. And so it goes, fly, land, climb, fly, land and climb. At one point we have to wait, sort like being stuck at the top of the Ferris wheel, for the guide to get ahead of us so he can catch us as we fly in. 

The horse back ride back in is very uncomfortable, the saddles are rock hard and I must be softer than in my riding days ever so long ago. Between the saddles and the harnesses my sit bones are incredibly painful. Luckily that night we are scheduled to go to a hot spring. 

To Be Continued................


furrybutts said...

Wow, flying through the forest sounds like so much fun! Wheeeeeee!!! I gotta try that someday!

PJ said...

It sound wonderful, I've seen photos of friends doing this in CR. It seems to be a beautiful place, I've been wanting to go for some time.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

FB It is fun in a dangerous, exciting sort of way. Much safer than, say, bungee jumping and though one can't really fully appreciate the scenery, the jungle adds a certain something to the experience.
PJ It is quite beautiful, I think now it is even better organized than it was when I went, eco tourism is very big there. I wish I had some photos but I didn't bring a camera, the guides counseled against it. I did bring a little disposable camera and the film got ruined, really though I was also too busy and distracted to take pics.

Mary-Laure said...

So envious... The Botanical Preserve sounds extraordinary. I heard that Costa Rica really has an amazing natural heritage.
I love horseback riding!

d. moll, l.ac. said...

ML yes, the Preserve was quite memorable and a good lesson to humans to leave stuff alone and mother nature will do the rest (for the most part). It was nice to have horses with personalities!