Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rickey’s Costa Rica Travelogue Part VI: The Monteverde Cloud Forest

We know, you’re wondering where Part V of the travelogue disappeared to. You miss it dearly. Well you see, after a soul-searching discussion with Mrs. Henderson, it was agreed upon that posting a deranged swimsuit calendar spread of myself on the internet might have been somewhat of a poor decision. Needless to say, rum was involved at the time. As you can see, the decision has since been rectified. Those responsible have been sacked. If you were one of the individuals who saw the post in all its beefcakey glory, please be sure to send us the bill for your psychotherapy sessions and we’ll gladly reimburse you for your expenses.

Moving on…

Arenal was tough to leave behind. We spent our last day there once again hanging out in the springs and relaxing.When we get back home and start looking for a house to purchase in the Tri-State area, I fully plan on asking if it has pools heated by underground volcanic vents. This might lengthen our search somewhat.

Exiting the spa, we saw a guy petting something that looked like a large wooden log. Then the log moved. Quickly realizing that we were looking at a giant snake of some kind – some sort of python or boa colored black with diamond markings down its torso – we took a few steps back. The dude, who happened to work at the spa, told us he’d found this massive snake trying to eat one of his chickens at his home, so naturally, he did what anyone in his situation would have done: he adopted it as a pet. Uh, cute.

A brief aside: one time back in college, after a few too many libations, I stumbled out of my frat house and saw a stray cat in the back parking lot. Not being altogether lucid, I figured I’d bring the cat inside and adopt it as my own. It was generally (and quickly) decided by my fellow brethren living in the frat house that that was an exceedingly bad idea and the cat was cast back outside. End of story.

And yet THIS GUY, this crazy Costa Rican bastard, thinks it wise to adopt a massive wild serpent that he caught swallowing one of his chickens. I quickly decide that the time has come to depart Arenal.

From Arenal, we headed back around the lake, and drove southeast to Monteverde, home of Costa Rica’s famed cloud forests.
We passed by many wind farms—occasional urban sprawl aside, Costa Rica prides itself for being a very green country. I approve of this. I'm certain that Thomas Friedman also does.

Lush countryside abounds. (by the way, did you know that you can click on any of these images to vastly embiggen them? yes mom, I'm talking directly to you).
We drove up and up and looked out the car windows at high elevation cows dotting the countryside. Behold, the Chuck Yeagers of the bovine family:
Have I mentioned that the beef here is delicious?

Once we arrived in Monteverde, we got an interesting tour of a coffee plantation. Mmmmm, sweet sweet nectar of consciousness.... The process by which you enjoy your morning cup of joe is elaborate and fraught with labor concerns, but the bottom line is that if you want to do it properly and humanely (like they do here) then coffee is ridiculously hard to obtain. And hot damn, does it taste good. Needless to say, roughly 95 pounds of Costa Rican coffee beans are returning home with us to the U.S.The next day, we spent a full morning hiking around a biological preserve. They call this a cloud forest for obvious reasons: it’s a lush environment that thrives in the upper atmosphere. Back in suburbia, a homeowner would give his right arm to have just one of these massive trees sitting on his front lawn. Here, there are hundreds of millions of them, and if anyone so much as thinks about hacking off a limb of one of these beauties, they’ll incur a government fine too large to even fathom.

This is for good reason. I’m just going to let these pictures speak for themselves. Please note that the lens flare/glare is entirely intentional and in no way a reflection of my mediocre camera equipment. (argh, I need an SLR). Anyway, National Geographic, eat your heart out.
Stunning. Hiking through the jungle, we weren’t simply exploring a rainforest, we were also in the clouds. The wind was strong but warm and the air was thin. Immense billows of clouds drifted through the trees. The temperature felt about 60 degrees, a welcome change from the 90 degree heat we’d found in Costa Rica’s lower elevations. These are only a handful of the pictures I snapped and they don't even come close to capturing how incredible it was here.

After a while, we finally reached the summit. Apparently it's kind of a big deal up here. Something about a continental divide of some sort...Later on in the hike, the oxygen deprivation finally got to me and I found a walking stick and did my very best Gandalf impression. Behold the alarming photographic evidence that will almost surely prevent me from attaining gainful employment should I decide to switch jobs:You shall not pass! (just be glad I'm wearing a shirt this time, OK?)

We debated doing the zipline thing again in Monteverde, but our hike kind of wore us out. Later, our decision to shun the ziplines was validated by an intense rain that lasted all afternoon. Rain pelting the face at 45mph probably doesn't feel all that good I'm guessing. Trapped inside in the hotel room, we did what any red-blooded Americans staying in a hotel room with a fireplace would have done: we started a fire, a damn good one. Marvel at three years of Boy Scout training finally paying off!Please note that these photos do not portray the aftermath of smoke flooding into the hotel room and us spending 30 minutes attempting to fan the fumes outside using pillowcases. Good times all around.

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11 comments:

Alex said...

I think I saw the predator perched on a tree in one of those jungle pictures.

Adam said...

Well, I gotta admit, I'm inwardly amazed you didn't get eaten by a spider monkey down there. Haley, I owe you $20 on that bet...

Bob "Melon" Melonosky said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Arthur said...

I saw that post on greader, AND STILL HAVE IT! Now, what do i do..?

Arthur said...

I didn't realize that you deleted it-now its much more intriguing

Rickey Henderson said...

Adam: the long awaited monkey post is coming up in the next (and final) installment of the travelogue. Rest assured, simian shenanigans abound!

Bob: Well this will teach me to leave my office door unlocked before going on vacation. Promise me you guys didn't booby trap it as well, ok?

Arthur: Yeah, Google reader keeps the post in its cache. Lovely.

eddie brown said...

The water lure me, the valley attract me,the forest fill me and happiness surrounded me.

eddie brown
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bath mateus said...

well posting
Bathmate

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