Monday, 9 August 2010

Volcan Arenal and Monterverde Cloud Forest

Hola Chicosss. Wellll I am in an internet cafe somewhere in the cloud mountains trying to sort out my photos... apparently they are quite large files, I´m nearly onto my third memory stick and im not even half way through my time here... whoops! Anyhoo, memory issues aside this past few days have been awesome. Sooo we've survived an active volcano with all its explosions and lava, trekked through the jungle to waterfalls, ridden through the jungle to waterfalls where we even swam.

We left San Jose on the bus, it took a longggg time but the scenery was beauuttiful and so we eventually arrived in la Fortuna, the final stop on the journey and the village nestled below a very big, very active volcano. A volcano that had killed 86 people and 35,000 animals in one hit in 1968, so naturally we decided this was the place to hang out and explore for a few days. It turned out, after listening to the slightly concerned comments of the locals that while it had happily been exploding everyday ever since, the thing hadn't shot any lava out for nearly a month. This was bad, apparently because pressure is building and the fact it has gone so long without exploding means the thing is due to explode anytime now and when it does its probably going to be a big explosion. The locals would casually add this to their concerns and then say "but don't worry the lava always flows down the otherside of the volcano, so La Fortuna will be ok, that is, unless it decides to flow down this side... but thats nature". I did love our explorations of La Fortuna and Volcan Arenal but I am glad that it is now a story and that we are now safely far away from its base and out of line of any spewing lava!

The first day we were there we went on an afternoon trek through the rain forest (complete with a hell of a lot of rain!) we trekked down to the waterfalls and learnt about lots of flowers, both ones that we could drink from if we were lost in the jungle and ones that we could smoke if we wanted a stronger kick than marijuana... which is exactly what a bloke had done the week before following one of Williams tours to the rain forest, he had tested some for himself and been caught in the middle of town the following night completely out of his mind. Whoops. Anyhoo following the education of the uses of the jungle flowers we headed to a look out spot to see if we could see any lava, the volcano exploded, it was loud, and scary but there was no lava. So with the sun gone we headed for an evening of wollowing in the hot springs at Baldi - it was very nice and a lot of fun to relax after our trek.

The following day we were off again for horse trekking to some waterfalls. I was expecting the opportunity to elegantly swim through the deep blue waters of a waterfall and lounge effortlessly on the surrounding rocks as the animals skipped up to lap water from the edges to be quite relaxing and picturesque. The reality didn't quite ring true to the dreamy thoughts I had had before we left in the morning. We bounded out of la Fortuna in the truck heading for the horses, after meeting our guide we saddled up and powered off into the mountains. It was so much fun and my horse was frankly a dude. He was a legend. We trekked for about 45 mins before we left the horses at the roadside and started our trek to the waterfalls. This consisted of walking down, and down... and down a bit more. Eventually we arrived to the base of the hot steamy jungle to find a cool oasis of deep blue water and the most imressive waterfall. Off came the walking boots and we started the clamber across the boulders, it was awesome fun but definitely not elegant. We clambered for about 50metres before we got to the pool at the bottom of the falls, where we swam for about 3 mins. It was practically impossible, the force of the waterfall was insane and there was certainly not going to be any elegant floating, the thing almost pulled me back towards it and I was a little nervous of getting caught up at the bottom of it, the force was so strong. So after cooling down and being very impressed by its beauty and power we headed back up through the jungle for the horses. We found them all bundled together, with the exception of my horse. Being the dude that he was he was stood, uncaring face on on the otherside of the road, as if to say "yep, i'm a dude and I know it" he he he. So we headed back home via an indian village where we had to adopt their unusual greetings and were able to hear a little about the life of their tribe. If was an awesome morning and so much fun. I said good bye to my horse and he didn't wait for his saddle to be taken off, so desperate for grass he galloped off into the distance of his lush green feild and we were left to head back to La Fortuna and a long cold and refreshing shower.

The next day we took the well talked about method of boat-jeep-boat to Santa Elena and Monteverde cloud forest. While in La Fortuna we had been in a dorm with a girl who seemed fairly switched on, we thought wrong. My careful research on hostels before we arrived to each town had meant that so far on this trip I was successfully persuading mum that yes, this backpacking stuff wasn't all that bad afterall and actually quite sociable and fun. So after chatting to this american girl who had just come from Santa Elena and the cloud forest she suggested we didn't stay where I had planned for us to stay but instead head for a different backpackers. When our jeep rolled into Santa Elena and we saw this hostel I think both mum and I were quietly thinking WTF?! THe maerican girl was an idiot and clearly totally inept at finding decent ammodation and did a very good job of undoing all my hard work on persuading mum. Rant about the american girl over and back to the shit hostel we managed one night. Then the next morning, when we were meant to be going on a riding tour we looked at each other and decided to run away. We grabbed our bags unlocked the back door and made a ash for it up the street. I think it is safe to say it was almost worth the $16 we paid for the both of us for our private room (without toilet or shower, which we learnt afterwards that for another $1 we could have had our very own bathroom) for the amount of laughing we have done over this. Mum managed to find a very grand place with horses and four poster double beds, so we headed for the place on the hill and left the hostel behind. Today, after a couple of nights in the nice place we are back in the hostel I had originally planned for us to be in... surprise surprise, its actually nice! So let this be a lesson to you people, always always take your Lonely Planet guide book with you, don't forget to read it and read it carefully and last but certainly not least, if you run into a stupid american girl by the name of Alison never ever listen to her... she really doesn't know what she's talking about - ergh!

Monteverde and Santa Elena have been an awesome experience (apart from the hostel). Our first day we spent relaxing in our lovely beautiful room on the hill with the horses and the big comfy beds to get over the shock of the hostel. The following morning we were up bright and early for zip lining, it was sooo much fun and really funny. We met a Canadian fencing team who had been in Costa Rica for a competition and were now travelling for a few days, they were a little nervous of the heights and not afriad to say, so we all giggled and squeeked aour way around the zip lines, tarzan swings, rappelling, superman things etc. It was fairly chilled and relaxing for me, as nothing could quite compare in the fear factor to the bungee jump. Added to which I actually really enjoy high ropes things. Luckily the weather was perfect, being a cloud forest it has a tendency to not only rain alot but also be completely foggy and, well, covered in cloud. The weather was dry, cloud free and perfect so we could see how high up we were, and how fast we were zipping through the canopy, it was so much fun and really nice that mum got to experience it before she left for england.

Today we were up early again and off to horse riding, rain and clouds had returned so we had big pnonchos over our western style saddles. The guide was really nice and I chatted to him as mum led the way on her horse who seemed to know exactly where it was going and I think probably knew the faster it walked the faster it could be back to its grass. We were able t see all the zip lines from the day before over head and hear the screams of todays bunch of zip lining people which was quite entertaining. It was nice to be able to have a spanish cnversation with the guide though, i have been speaking a lot of english in the last few weeks and hardly any spanish so to be able to chat to someone who coudn't speak english was actually really good.

Now we are back in the hostel chilling, me with my new favourite llama wool jumper on (because it is absolutely freeeeeeezing up here in the cloud forest, mum says its actually quite hot but Im too cold and looking forward to the warmth of the beach!)Our last night in Monteverde before we head back to San Jose for mum to catch her flight I have had the most awesome last few weeks and it will be very sad to see mum go, will be a little rubbish lying on the beach without her but I am sure in no time we will be exploring other new and exciting places together again. Now it is time to head for Quepos and then next six weeks of LEARNING ESPAƑOL!!!!! Eeeep, back to my host family, back to my spanish lessons and back to the beach with my hammock and ukulele. I am hoping my spanish will get better, fingers crossed! So until next time lots of love everyone and i hope life is fabulous wherever you are xxxxxxx

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