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Mar 1, 2007 - 11:05pm

Today, day 2 of what [ profile] elvendoll and I celebrate as our anniversary, was a full, busy, great day. It started out early with breakfast at our B&B - during which a toucan graced us with its precense, happily eating a melon not far from the table we were having breakfast at. The owners said it was only the second time in 7 years they had seen a toucan come to the farm. The first having been a week earlier.

From there we jumped in our truck and took off to the skytram. This was beautiful, fun and exciting! We first took a long trip up into the forest on a cable car, a few dozens of meters in the air. It was a small group, too. Normally the place sells out their tours packing nearly 20 people in a group, but on this day it was just [ profile] elvendoll and I, our two guides, and two people from Holland. As we were approaching the top of the tram ride we were able to hear Arenal grumbling in the distance. It sounded like a cross between thunder and an earthquake. A sound like thunder, but that distinctly came from the ground, not the sky. Unfortunately, even as the day was beginning to clear the volcano was still cloud-clad.

Coming down was a different experiance altogether. We were harnessed up and tossed down ziplines! Eight of them in all, some as high as 200 meters, and at least two of them longer than 600 meters. We supposedly reached speeds of somewhere between 30-60kph! It was, in a word, phenomenal. Of course, I have pictures - a full gallery of them here (and also on flickr here).

I wish there were enough words to fully describe the experience. (I also wish I had thought to bring the small camera that takes movies, and actually record one of the runs. Next time!). There was a freedom and comfort to being out in the middle of one of these ziplines, dozens of meters above the treetops, just floating in the air. While waiting at a zipline station for everyone to finish so we could go to the next one you could hear what almost sounded like the ziplines singing, as someone came, well, zipping down the line.

From there it was back in the truck, over to a hanging bridges tour of a different part of the forest, after a quick cafeteria lunch (mmm, with one of the best burgers i've had, ever). This was a 2+ mile walk/hike over a dozen metal and hanging bridges and the trails between. We saw a number of birds, a multiude of plants, and a little frog called the blue jean dart frog! So cute. This thing was maybe the size of my thumb - and very, very shy. There are more pictures from the forest here and here.

After the tour we came back to the hotel where we ended up taking an accidental nap. When we woke up, it was raining heavily outside. A blinding, almost solid kind of rain. We decided that going to a hot springs place sounded like the best of ideas! So we drove over to Eco Thermales. This place had an unmarked gate, and I had to get out of the truck in the rain to buzz in to see if it were possible to, late in the evening, come in to use the hot springs for a bit. Luckily the rain had kept many people away so there was, in fact, room for us! (They only allowed 100 visitors at a time). It was a nice, relaxing experience. Nothing like being out in an open hot spring in the pouring rain.

Finally, we brought our night to a close by having a great dinner involving flaming plates at a local restaurant and then sweet, sweet, sleep.

more photos behind the cut )
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Feb 28th, 2007 @9:30pm

Full day. Woke up, slowly, to a really good breakfast and gorgeous views of clouds rolling in and out of the valley below where we stayed. After breakfast, we set off for Villa Blanca, to visit the cloud forest at Los Angeles. The drive there was easy, and beautiful. Once there, we set ourselves up with a guided tour of the forest. We saw an amazing variety of plants (a walking pine, red bananas, and various other flora).

After the tour, our guide invited us to hang out while she refilled the hummingbird feeders. We elected to spend some time in the orchid tent before making our way back. I got back just before [ profile] elvendoll and got to see a Coati sneaking around the birdfeeders (but it ran off before i could grab my camera, which is why you just get the wiki link :). We figured we'd spend a few minutes watching and then head on our way. However, there was one hummingbird who trapped us for nearly a half hour hanging out on a branch with us. I was convinced it was going to come with us. There are some adorable pictures of [ profile] elvendoll and the hummingbird as well as some other humming birds from the los angeles forest.

From there we drove back into San Ramon to get local currency and cash. It took some driving around but we were successful, and with that we hit the road to Arenal, the next part of our adventure.

I have a couple sets of photos from the los angeles cloud forest here, here, and here. For thems that prefer flickr, these photos are tagged with cloudforest on my account there.

Feb 28th, 2007 @11pm
The drive up here (to Arenal) was beautiful, and we made good time, getting up here before nightfall. Alas, Arenal was busy being shy and hiding behind a cloud. We checked in and settled into our room at Erupciones Inn where we went over our pictures from the day. A quick round of text messaging calmed some fears and pointed us at a really good restaurant for dinner.

Now, it is time to finish writing, take a long, hot bath (ed. never happened), peek to see if Arenal is still hiding (it was) and then to bed. Lots to fill tomorrow with!

5 Years. So much good there, looking forward to the next five, whatever form the take.

next time: our intrepid heros go zipping through the air and the volcano makes her presence known
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(what follows are lightly edited versions of notes made in my journal while we were travelling)

Feb 27th, 2007 @7:30pm CST
Long day of travel so far, and we aren't even done yet. Starting with an ass early wakeup at 5am to journey to the airport. I am amused that we are flying from San Jose, CA to San Jose, CR. We got through security smoothly at the airport, and grabbed breakfast while waiting for our flight. We both slept for most of the first flight, bringing us to Dallas, TX. Once there, we rushed to find our gate, and then rushed again to get food, having barely an hour from arrival to boarding. Or so we thought. Our flight ended up being delayed for nearly another two hours, maybe longer.

We made use of the time to call our banks, so that the international activity wouldn't trip off the fraud alarms and kill off our cards. We also did some random shopping (bag straps, new wallet, magazines to read, etc...) and looked at some of the random sculpture pieces filling the terminal. I'm wishing I had thought to take pictures of some of it.

Just as we started boarding, I did find a picture to take. THe sunset, over the wing of our plane, with a contrail streaking across the sky. I suppose i'll find out next week how it came out.

Now we're in flight to CR itself. I've filled in my customs eclaration and they're about to serve dinner, and i'm out of page. Good time to stop!

Feb 28th, 2007 @12:30am CST
The rest of the flight was boring and uneventful, as it should be. Once we landed we had an easy time through customs and left the airport. We were met outside by Diego, from whom we were renting our 4x4. Nice guy, and this proved to be a convinient way to do rentals, just picking them up at the airport garage. When we're done, we would, in turn, drop the car off at the same garage and just walk across the street to the terminal.

After getting in the car we headed out on our way. The directions to our first place, Angel Valley Farm included such gems as "turn right where $FOO used to be", though thankfully they told us what the new name was.

While driving we quickly learned such fun things as construction signs often get placed in the middle of the road. And damn, do they love their speedbumps here.
(ed. I later discovered that they were placed at the ends of every school we drove by, which in costa rica was fairly frequently) The drive was fine, though and in the end proved to be fairly easy. We didn't have to backtrack much at all!

The B&B itself is great. I love the bathroom and tub in here, if i'm smart i'll take a picture of it to show it off.
(ed. obviously, smart I was not) Oh! And we saw Mexico city from the plane. Amazing to see from the air at night, it seemed to be an endless expanse of city in all directions. Hi [ profile] halo!

Now off to curl up with a [ profile] elvendoll and sleep. Tomorrow comes really early.


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