Friday, 7 November 2008

... Central America: Pura Vida!

When one is in a rainforest you stand a pretty good chance of getting wet, right?  Right. Therefore you'd think that with my level of education I would clue into this. Hmm. Our night hike around the volcano in the rainforest last night ended up being very very wet because we got caught in a tropical thunder storm. And whilst I was clever enough to pack my headlamp I am seemingly too dumb to take my rain jacket. So it was more wet than I'd ever anticipated but really very cool with the lightning & thunder flashing & crashing all around us. It got dark very quickly so unfortunately the only wildlife I was able to see were a bunch of toucans, a couple of Howler monkeys and this big creepy crawly bug type thing. Apparently Elmer (yes, as in Fudd), our guide told me afterwards that had I shone my light into all the pot holes I would've probably seen tarantulas. *shudder* I did have a little chuckle (albeit somewhat nervous) to myself at the fact he was walking around with his umbrella up and had us crossing metal bridges amidst the huge lightning forks right above our heads. I wonder if he was wearing copper shoes too?

I ate my first termite. That's what you get for answering your guide with 'Yes' when he asks if any of you are hungry. It's probably my last too. Apparently high in protein, I squished that sucker with my teeth as quickly as possible having seen all the Indiana Jones movies far too many times. It tasted like pine. Not that I go around licking pine trees you understand but really it tasted like pine... may be the smell of it? You shall have to try your own termites if you don't believe me. After a better bite to eat at the lodge we went out to see the lava boulders rolling down the side of the volcano. It was amazing to watch these glowing red ribbons moving down the side of the mountain but unfortunately it was too wet for any quality pictures.

Finally we hit the hot springs. It was kitsch & fun. So much for total nature. It had water slides, a disco ball AND 80's music! What a combo! We all went down the water slides- I had air time! Unfortunately I also got a friction burn and took actual skin off my lower back (not so fun) plus put a little hole in my $100 bikini (also not so fun).  The hot springs themselves are pretty amazing - series of different pools all heated by the volcano. There were two though that were obscene temperatures. I put my little toe in the one that was above 60 degrees and I swear I saw a layer of skin float away.

Rafting today was out of this World! There were 4 of us in one boat with our guide Didier, another boat with 5 people & another guide and then there was Carlos in the kayak. Notice I took note of the names of the two people I needed to know!

We were kitted up in crash helmets & life jackets and given a paddle. I was a little bit nervous at first when we were going through all the safety procedures and the talk of if we tipped over how we could end up floating down the river underneath the boat.  We were then told that you don't hold onto the side nor sit in the middle (unless you have to 'get down' and even then it's a crouch) but you basically hang on for dear life using... your foot! haha  My Doc Marten sandals did me proud... they're now very very wet leather sandals but they did me proud nevertheless.

We were on the water for over 2.5 hours (with a mini break mid-way) and I loved every minute of it. The river was pretty wild after the rain yesterday but the path we took through the rainforest was beautiful. I saw all these wild & wonderful exotic birds plus a black vulture & several white egrets and then what I think was a tortoise sunning itself by the river edge. In the few calm spots we had it was just so peaceful listening to the noise coming from the trees. When it wasn't calm we were rowing like the clappers... forward, backwards, one side forward/one side back. Upon completing a tough rapid it was a paddle toast in the air with a hearty holler of 'Pura Vida!' before slapping them down on the water.

And of course Didier decided it would be very funny to make us all go to the wrong side of the boat during a big wave so that we tipped and ended up in the river. I couldn't stop giggling amidst swallowing a pretty good mouthful of river water! Yum! Because of the Poás volcano contributing to the sulphur levels nothing lives in the river so hopefully nothing is now living inside my stomach.....

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