After 6hrs by bus from Nicaragua we were unceremoniously dumped on a corner in the middle of Costa Rican 'no man's land' to connect with another bus up to region of Monteverde/Santa Elena. At the border of Nicaragua/Costa Rica we bumped into a young outgoing American chap and a Belgian Dive Instructor who had clearly spent too much time together in the preceding 48hrs on their way from Honduras. The Belgian could barely even look at the American anymore and grew visibly tense when he opened his mouth to bestow cultural advice on anyone who would listen. It's funny how this happens when you are travelling; you can fall in and out of love with a new companion in the space of a single coach journey or excursion. The desire to meet like minds with which to share your adventure can interfere with your normal character assessment. Choosing a travel companion cannot be taken lightly. It's doubtful that you will have spent more time with a single individual since early childhood and even then things were far less complicated. Hannah and I have had our fair share of shaky moments and if I am completely honest, traveling isn't the utopia I had created in my head during those Monday mornings back in the real world. On balance though I couldn't have lasted this long and had this much fun with anyone else.
With only a short time to spend in Costa Rica we chose Monterverde as it is extremely unique in terms of the places we have and will visit on this trip. Resting roughly at 1400 meters (4600 feet) above sea level, Monteverde is foggy, wet, and windy. Average rainfall here is over 3000mm per year compared to just 920mm in Seattle and 830mm In London. This climate makes it home to some of the world's most bio-diverse cloud forest. During our time here we spotted a Two Toed Sloth, Pit Vipers, Tarantulas, a Beetle which appeared as though it had been dipped in 24k gold, Tree Frogs and an Opossum. To return briefly to the Sloth though, it has a reputation for not doing much, which is absolutely fair, but the little it does is actually quite fascinating. For example, the Sloth only uses the toilet once per week and hasn't evolved this feat of restraint in order to devote more time to sleeping. It's actually a defense mechanism designed to make it more difficult for wild cat predators to determine their location. Most of you have probably never had cause to realize this, but if you defecate/urinate at the top of a high tree and the wind is up, the scent and therefore your location can be detected from miles around (particularly if your diet consists entirely of leaves). To avoid advertising its whereabouts, the Sloth saves everything up and once a week dashes to the bottom of his/her tree, delivers the load and then shoots back up a different tree to get back to what it does best, nothing much.
The nature here is obviously a big draw, but Monteverde also has a good claim to be the origin of 'zip-lining'. The accompanying pictures probably give the jist of things but in a nutshell, wearing a climbing harness, you clip yourself onto a metal cable which runs across the canopy and hurl yourself off a large platform stopping abruptly at the next. The longest line on our trip was 1km wide and 300 feet high which is actually pretty tasty. As a result of third world health and safety regulations I was also able to try the 'superman' rope swing despite being 25lbs over the safety limit. This definitely added a little spice to the initial leap as I watched the joints of the support platform strain to their limits wondering if this was the moment they would finally yield. After a few pre-match jitters the night before, my brave partner in crime was right next to me the whole day and fully deserved her overpriced glass of wine later that evening. Next day we caught a bus to San Jose and a flight down to Panama City.
Much more happened during our visit to Montverde (I bumped into an old Amazonian and on one occasion we actually stayed up past midnight) but we all have better things to do so I'll leave it there.