Pulpology: Mark & Sonia's Intercontinental Absurdities!

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16 July 2007
Another walk in the clouds
Since the SkyTrek package we purchased granted us free entry into the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Julia and I decided to do a bit of hiking this morning. After saying goodbye about four times to our buddy Nathan, who, sadly, was heading back to the States (we´ll miss ya, you Supreme Master S**tf**k, you!) we shared a cab with some other travelers and headed to the park. We wound up chatting with some teachers from Texas who had just come from La Fortuna and were happy to share their experiences. One thing about travelers, you can *always* count on them to share an opinion or story or two. Sometimes this is helpful, sometimes not, but it´s always entertaining!

Monteverde Cloud Forest visitor center Upon arrival at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, we were presented with a map and two suggested trails. We opted first to take the Sendero Bosque Nuboso (it being a Cloud Forest and all) and headed off in the direction the signs pointed. The trail was really poorly marked, and split off in a few places, so we just took an educated guess (with some help from my trusty lil´ compass, thanks Mark!) and figured we couldn´t really get too far off track since all the trails went in a big circle. We continued to follow our little waffle path friends, and eventually we did get back to the Visitors´ Center. Not at all along the suggested trail, because we hadn´t hit a few key bridges or other items on the map, but still not bad for two city girls.

go ask Alice, I think she´ll know... The second, much shorter trail took us to a lovely waterfall. And along the way I saw both the funkiest orange caterpillar ever (totally shoulda been sitting on a giant mushroom smoking a hookah) and the tiniest worm ever that landed on my pinky finger and twitched around in a confused daze. Costa Rican wildlife totally rocks!

Posted by soniaz at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Cloud Forest
A night hike in Bosque Eterno de los Niños
OK, so this tour had nothing to do with the Jim Carey movie, but it was a very cool chance to see the nocturnal critters of the Bosque Eterno de los Niños (Children´s Eternal Rain Forest), in the Bosque del Tigre reserves. The park is run by the Monteverde Conservation League and was established with money donated by schoolchildren around the world. (Any grade school teachers out there who are interested in getting involved in this program, drop me a line! A grabbed a pamphlet with more info.)

our guide works his flashlightWe wound up with a group of 8 people, including a family with two pesty little boys who insisted on stopping to examine every spiderweb in the forest. Nevertheless, our guide (who had a strange name that sounded something like "Gray Beans") was chock-fulla information, although his impish smirk made it hard to believe him when he told us things like male spiders masturbate a lot, or that one particular ginger plant´s leaves were referred to as "natural toilet paper."

creeeeeepy tarantulaWe saw some cool stuff, including a sloth with baby, funky spitting beetles, and a huuuuuuuuge tarantula. Gray Beans tried using a stick to Smoke Him Outta His Hole... but we all know how well that works. We also spent some time chasing through the dark, totally off the trail, attempting to track down some elusive mammal known as an "olindo." Never did see it, but it was fun dashing around the forest in the dark. Very Blair Witch.

French dancingAfterwards we went back to PSE to reprise our spectacular pasta dish, despite the kitchen being crammed with a bunch of French dudes who were putting on a cooking show. After dinner Julia and I hung out with these three amigos (plus their Israeli friend) on the porch for a while and they amused us by doing some impromptu Fred Astaire dance. Julia had more patience than I and actually went out with them to the only bar in town, where apparently they bought tequila shots for everyone in attendance.

Posted by soniaz at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments

15 July 2007
Have You Hugged Your Webmaster Today?

If you see mine, please give him a big hug and a smooch... I think he´s feeling a little lonely... Apologies to those of you who have been checking this site for blog updates, I promise they´re forthcoming. In lieu of that, I´ve uploaded all the pics from Tamarindo and Quepos-Manuel Antonio, and should soon have some cool pics to share of the wild bus ride from Puntarenas to Monteverde.

Today Julia and I are doing a zipline and canopy tour of the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Kick ass!


Posted by soniaz at 8:00 PM | Link | 0 comments

Hurtling through the clouds at 400 feet
Ziplining in the Cloud Forest kicks major ass
a common sceneToday Julia and I got to see some of the best that Monteverde has to offer. We started off with a canopy tour along the Cloud Forest´s hanging bridges. Very fun. And fortunately we both have the same photographic obsession, so neither of us minded when we stopped every few minutes to snap a picture of something cool. And there was LOTS of cool stuff to see... the forest is dense and lush, with layers of things growing on other things, towering trees, and more green than you can possibly imagine. And being a Cloud Forest means the clouds actually roll in over the treetops, so that you feel as though you´re on top of the world. Many pics -- which don´t even do it justice -- begin here.

ziplining platformsRight, so that was in the morning. And just as the aforementioned clouds began to look a bit ominous, it was time for part two, the zipline tour! What a wacky experience. You strap yourself into this harness that hooks onto a little pulley, which, along with your two tour guides, soon becomes your best friend in the world. You trek uphill and across a few hanging bridges into the high canopy, and end up on a high platform. And by now, in our case, it was pouring rain. Sweet. They start you off on a fairly short line, just to get the feel for it. Guide number one (Freddie, who kept making Freddie Krueger jokes) clips you into the line and shoves you across the canyon. Guide number two is waiting at the other end to catch you, and they always do catch you, even though you´re convinced you´re going to hurtle straight through the platform and straight into a large tree. Good times!

Sure, it would have been more fun if we´d had a sunny day... supposedly you can see Volcán Arenál from the higher platforms. But there was something totally cool about whizzing through the rain and the clouds, over 400 feet from the ground, at almost 40mph.

We finished up the day by cooking an exceptional pasta dish back at the hostel, and learning a new card game with our bunkmates. A good day, indeed.
Posted by soniaz at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
14 July 2007
good vibes at Pensión Santa Elena
Ahhhh, a relaxing catch-up day! It´s essential to have one of these do-nothing days periodically when you´re doing long-haul travel. Otherwise you quickly burn out. For me, catch-up days include getting some laundry done (in this case, at the lavandería across the street, for about five bucks), responding to email, and getting some work done on the site. Yes, working at the computer has actually become a  RELAXING activity, who woulda thunk it?

Ro gives a warm welcome It helps that the vibe here at Pensión Santa Elena, a backpackers´ fave just a few blocks from the Monteverde/Santa Elena bus station, is really welcoming. They have a huge hammock on the porch where you can sit and watch the world, and the occasional smoke-belching truck, go by. Butterflies and hummingbirds hang out in the purple bush across the street. The people staying here are pretty diverse, from the typical 20something backpackers to European families with small children. (See, Katy, people do travel with their kids!!) And the staff are amazing! Friendly, with a wicked sense of humor, and so helpful with tour and travel info it´s unbelievable. (And there´s a TON of stuff to do here, from ziplining to night hikes.) I never thought I´d sleep in a bunk bed again, much less in a shared room with five other people, but somehow at this place it´s not so bad. Check out the pics to see some of the great times Julia and I spent at PSE.
Posted by soniaz at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
13 July 2007
Happy Friday the 13th!
Onwards and upwards to Monteverde

Another series of bus adventures. Up early and outta Quepos around 7:30 am, and it was a pretty unremarkable journey back into Puntarenas, dreadful bus music notwithstanding. If I hear the Spanish version of "Gloria" one more time... well, I´d better just grin and bear it because apparently Ticos just LOVE this song. Bleccccccch. At least I had a seat, even if it was next to a young pregnant woman who would occasionally sing along with the bad Muzak and weep a tear or two.

would you leave your bags with this man???We got into Puntarenas around 11am, and I took up residence on a bench near the Monteverde bus, which wasn´t scheduled to leave until 2pm. Lovely. The rumpled man who had been sleeping on the other side of the bench woke up and asked me where I was headed. When I told him, he mumbled something about leaving my bags behind so I could walk around for a while. Um, I don´t THINK so, mister! First of all, there´s no way I´m leaving my bag with some random homeless guy on a bench. Second, why would I want to wander around Puntarenas and probably get mugged? No thank you, I´ll just stay right here. Turns out he was the bus driver. D´oh! But how was I supposed to know that? Before he put his little uniform on he was just another sketchy dude in a sketchy town.

My 3ish hours in Puntarenas were spent catching up on my journal entries and familiarizing myself with Monteverde/Santa Elena. At one point this super-creepy old lady sat down next to me and started hacking up a lung. Nice. I amused the two boys waiting with their mom by taking some digipics of them and showing them the results. And I made friends with the local snack vendor who joked that he was going to make my boyfriend very jealous by spiriting me away to his Costa Rican love shack. Or something like that. He did buy me a slice of watermelon, which may mean that we´re married now. Good times!

breathtaking views on the road to MonteverdeThe ride to Monteverde was absolutely stunning, especially after we passed Las Juntas. We started up this tiny winding uphill path that just seemed to keep going up, up, up... And the most amazing part was that people kept getting ON the bus, even as we approached what seemed to be the top of the world. Astonishing views of hills, valleys, mountains piercing the clouds, cows, horses, the occasional shack, and ever upward. Best ride yet, for a mere two bucks.

Posted by soniaz at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment