Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pura Vida

From Aug. 11 to Aug. 23 I traveled with three friends through Costa Rica. Our trip was whirlwind. We hiked cloud forests and zip-lined through trees in Monteverde, surfed sweet waves and layed in hammocks in Mal Pais, drank Guaro and swam at the base of waterfalls in Montezuma. The people, both locals and backpackers, were amazing and we all learned a lot about ourselves and the world around us through the perspectives of those we met. It was carpe diem; it was pura vida.

The night before we left, Adam and Charlie decided to finish a puzzle by lamplight.

Jimmy and I got up at 7 a.m. to catch the bus from San Jose to Monteverde. Unfortunately, it didn't leave until 2:30 p.m. Thus, we were forced to drink beers and wait at the bus stop.

Half way through our grueling 6 hour bus ride up to Monteverde, we stopped at a little restaurant so the bus driver could eat dinner. The rest of us used the bathroom, had a snack and enjoyed our precious minutes outside of the bus.

Pura Vida

After a long night at Amigos (a Tico bar in Monteverde), Jimmy and I joined the two girls staying in our room for a hike through Bajo del Tigre. Samantha and Lauren are of both graduates of UF. I guess the Gator Nation is everywhere.

Bajo del Tigre (Jaguar Canyon) has a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Thirty tree species in the area are among those in Monteverde that have been indentified as new to science.

The forest is at 3,400 to 4,500 feet in altitude and receives about 95 inches of rain per year. This is with a six-month dry season.

The Cecropia tree is one of the fastest growing out of the more than 600 species in Monteverde. It can grow up to 10 feet per year and is known as "the colonizer" because it is the first to grow in openings in the forest.

Pura Vida

The family that owned and ran the hostel we stayed at in Monteverde was amazing. Their two children would come and sit in your lap and talk to you in espanol and take you by the hand and show you around. I had a great time just sitting and talking with them (while Jimmy translated).

Daniel, 2, was constantly interacting with us. The family that owns the hostel lives in one of the rooms in the hostel, so Daniel and his sister are always around travelers. It was amazing to get such an intimate look at a Costa Rican family. 

In the afternoon the fog rolled in; then it rained. Daniel liked to play in the rain, that is until his father found him and made him get out of it.

Outside the window of the hostel, one can see the lights of Puntarenas City, which is on the coast. This is a long exposure showing the view at night.

Pura Vida

The zip-line tour took us through the trees and over valleys. On the last one, which was the longest, Jimmy and I paired up. It was quite a rush.

Self-portrait on the bus back to Monteverde from the Cloud Forest Reserve.

On our second night in Monteverde, Jimmy and I sat and watched the rain and downed a few liters of Imperial. When it stopped raining, we went to get some food. Jimmy found a spot on the road, sat down, and inhaled something - he still can't remember what was. It was a good night.

We left Monteverde at 6 a.m. the next day and headed for Puntarenas City. Charlie and Adam were supposed to meet us, but never showed. So, we wandered around the city, watched locals play futbol on the beach, and ended up waiting until 2 a.m. for the deliquent pair. It was pretty sketchy, but we stayed safe, gloria a Dios.

Pura Vida

Another early morning found Jimmy and I boarding a ferry in Puntarenas. The ferry took us across the Golfo de Nicoya and over to Paquera. There we waited for a bus to Mal Pais. In Paquera, a family launched their boat into the gulf.

We arrived in Mal Pais, ate some casados, went swimming, and went to buy some beverages. When we got back to our hostel, Charlie and Adam were checking in. We were stoked because we were afraid Hurricane Dean had prevented them from flying over. Surfing ensued. And then dinner. And then, at about 11 p.m., Charlie and Jimmy paddled out in the dark. Charlie led the walk to the water.

Heat lightning was everywhere in the sky as Adam and I waited on the shore. I set my camera on a rock for a 30 second exposure. It was a beautiful night. Charlie and Jimmy said that ther were luminescents in the water (little creatures that glowed when you touched them). Needless to say, it was a highlight.

Our hostel itself was the epitome of Pura Vida. Hammocks everywhere, pancakes and Costa Rican coffee in morning, and great people all day. I think we could have stayed there indefinitely.

Pura Vida

The day after Charlie and Jimmy arrived, we walked into Mal Pais (techniqually we stayed in an area between Santa Teresa and Mal Pais).

There was beauty in things both big and small. This little guy caught my eye while we were walking into Mal Pais looking for monkeys.

Everywhere we looked we saw iguanas. Some were really bright green and others, like this large fellow, blended into to their environment a bit better.

I really wanted to get some photos of Charlie and Jimmy surfing. Unfortuantely, the first day I went to do so I wandered into a part of the beach where a small river emptied into the ocean. The river brought a lot of large pieces wood with it. So, as I was looking intently out at the waves, a huge log bowled me over and I went completely under water. I jerked my arm up just quickly enough to keep my camera and lens from getting submerged with me. After that, I shot very little.

Pura Vida

The tidal pools were very serene. We really wanted to camp on the beach; that is the one thing I wish I'd done. Maybe next time.

We spent a lot of time sitting in things - trees, hammocks, roadsides, etc. It seemed like the right thing to do; to slow down and soak it all up.

A man and a monkey = Adam and Charlie.

Hermit crabs were absolutely everywhere on the beaches. They loved the magically already-opened coconuts. They were quite a sight.

Pura Vida

We headed up to a bar called Mar Azul to get drink after our long walk. While there we found a tucan who loved mango juice. Apprently they had cought him near by and kept him as pet. We all took turns holding him and watching him drink at the bar. It was a nice suprise.

After our trek down the beach, we hitched a ride back to our hostel in the back of a truck.

One of our last days in Mal Pais, I took a few shot of the beach where we spent a lot of time. I'll miss paradise being a 5 minute walk from my bed.

Almost as soon as we got to Montezuma, we decided to go find the fabled waterfalls. It was fun and muddy hike and I was pretty sure that was going to lose all my equipment while crossing the streams. Thank God my gear stayed dry.

Pura Vida

On the way to the waterfall, Jimmy stopped to soak his feet.

Mist from waterfall made it feel like it was sprinkling rain, and the water below was muddy brown. Jimmy and I decided to jump in, despite a unfounded fear of pirannas and bacteria in the water.

That night we walked around Montezuma, drank some Guaro and watched people dance to Latino music. Once back at our cozy hotel, Charlie and I stayed up talking on the porch outside our rooms. This is the view.

After a long, eventful trip, we returned back to the airport. We had a lot of time to sit and think about how we didn't want go back home.