Sunday, January 9, 2011
Monteverde: Amidst the Clouds
After a climb up what is (hopefully for the sake of the country's inhabitants) the worst road in all of Costa Rica, we arrived in Monteverde. The clouds must hang a little lower nearer the equator, for despite the fact that the area is only 4600 feet above sea level, the feathery pillows of the sky were all around, above but also below us at times.
The rain was not like the steady showers we received in Tortuguero, but a light misting, quickly broken and followed by hours of sunlight before the precipitation returned. The odds of sighting a rainbow were high and we even spotted a double rainbow, which have been known to cause fits of endless spazzing in the uninitiated.
The natural bounty of the land continued to astound me, especially the colorful fliers known as aves to the locals. Never much of a bird nerd before, I was hit with a fever that was fortunately not cowbell-related or even malarial in nature. Or not yet anyway -if I keep forgetting to take my pills that could be next. Oh well that's just another fun part of the experience when traveling in the rain forest right?
Where was I? Oh yeah, I was admitting to my new found love for the birds of Costa Rica and there was plenty to feed my need in Monteverde. I saw the Motmot, the official bird of Nicaragua and the resplendent quetzal, the national bird of Guatemala, both spectacular birds with long tails and a regal bearing. I also saw about ten million clay-colored robins, Costa Rica's representative, perhaps the most boring bird in the world.
I was reminded by our guide Paulo that we almost picked the turkey for the same role in the United States. Well Paulo, Benjamin Franklin was a senile and no doubt syphilitic old man and the founding fathers wisely didn't listen to his incoherent, cracked-out ramblings, so suck it.
Even the insects were interesting in Costa Rica, as we discovered after being suckered into the Butterfly Garden, only to find out that much of the tour was about spiders, millipedes, beetles, and even roaches. I guess "Roach and Tarantula Garden" didn't have the same ring to it. I shortly forgave the dishonest bastards who are going to hell because of all the interesting information they gave us about the smallest of the nation's wild life - outside of the wonderful assortment of intestinal parasites also available there, of course.
The garden also eventually delivered on the butterfly pledge, giving us the chance to see the Blue Morpho, one of which was famously killed by Time magazine in order to hold the insect still enough for a cover story about Earth Day. The postman butterfly, known for always ringing twice, and the clear winged butterfly, known for the transparency of its lies (pictured above weaving a web of deceit), were two of my other favorites.
Although we also met a monkey and a pack of coatis in Monteverde, I tire of discussing smelly animals (reminder to self: take a bath sometime this week). One of the new experiences my mother had planned for us in Costa Rica was a chance to do something called zip-lining.
Zip-lining is great - unless you are scared of heights, so I pretty much spent the whole time pissing my shorts. Once I ran out of urine, however, I was able to settle into the experience and really enjoy the thrill, knowing that the equipment was safe and reliable and our guides were professionals who had been doing this job since they were eighteen (they were now grizzled twenty five year olds). At no point did our two helpers attempt to kill us, although the intent to injure my brother and I was clearly there on a couple of occasions.
I also recommend that you turn down their idea of rappelling, which involves being dropped from a great height at the speed of gravity until you are convinced you are going to die and have a heart attack. At that very moment, the guides stop your fall and you land gently on the ground alive, if the paramedics arrive in time to treat your cardiac arrest. Hopefully the ambulance doesn't have to drive to Monteverde.
Seriously though, I really enjoyed zip-lining quite a bit, as did my brother and my mother. I highly recommend that you give it a try, especially if you are a total ass hole of whose presence the world would be well rid. Sorry, I didn't mean that, just a little edgy from a lack of caffeine. Unfortunately, I don't drink caffeinated beverages anymore so sadly my state of mind is unlikely to change any time soon.
Sadly, our time in lovely Monteverde came to an end all too quickly. Another jaw-breaking, teeth-rattling journey lay ahead, as we left the cloud forest and headed to the live and very active volcano of Arenal. Don't worry about my safety, I brought my own virgin.