Tuesday, July 12, 2005

how I spent my summer vacation: a (very long) photo essay

The road to the (deadly) Arenal Volcano- you can see it in the distance as you are driving there. The guides took great pleasure in telling me that even if I could outrun the lava, the gases would still kill us before we could get away. At nighttime you could see sparks and lava shooting out, and while on our horse ride we heard it explode. LOUDLY.

Note that the road here is deceptively good. We were rolling along happily in our little white jeep, content that we were brilliant to rent a car.

Here is the scene of the bullet ant attack. I like to refer to it as an attack, even though really we were attacking the ant. Josh will deny it, but he thoroughly enjoyed telling the story to all the Costa Ricans we met along the way.

They were all suitably impressed and horrified.

This hotel rocked, though. It wasn't one of the most touristy ones, but it had beautiful grounds
and the rooms were perfectly acceptable and cute! And cheap, very cheap. That was my favorite part.

Look at these gorgeous plants!

Here we have the first instance of many, where we caught animals having sex.

Go butterflies, go!!!

Meet Tito, my biting horse. He was a little jerk. He refused to walk at anything faster than a snail's pace, but he would bite any other horse or rider that tried to pass him. In biting them, he'd jerk his head to the side and snap at them, and I'd almost fall off, every. single. time.

Here I am, in the first of many shots where I try and pretend that I don't want to cry because I hate my horse and I want to kill Josh for making me do this.

This is Josh's psychotic horse, Chepete. Chepete would rear up and try to throw him off if he didn't let him run.

Seriously. And although I know we look like professional horse riders, here, I promise you that we're not. Josh wasn't really trained to be galloping up and down the mountain at breakneck speeds. It took 4 tries of this picture to keep his horse from running off.

But look! A monkey!

He kept swinging from vine to vine and coming closer and closer to us! It was lovely! Until the guide told me that this particular monkey hated humans and had attacked his other groups in the past.

Hmmm, not so cute monkey anymore.

It is entirely possible, though, that the guide was fucking with me. He also told me to hide my red backpack when we happened upon this bull in our path because the bull might attack me. I wasn't sure whether to believe him or not, so I tried stuffing it up my shirt.

Not too long after this was when one of the other horses kicked a rider near me. SOMEHOW I think these horses aren't really trained to have riders. Especially idiotic tourist riders that don't know how to ride horses.

Ahhhh, the hot springs were very relaxing since I couldn't walk after the 3 hour horse ride. It took me 3 days to stop limping, and yes, I admit I am a wimp. Look at that steam though! That is how hot the river was! These are rivers flowing from the volcano with boiling hot water. My skin was red for hours after sitting there.

I lasted about 42 seconds and then evacuated to the pool bar. Have I mentioned that I love pina coladas?

Alas, we had to leave the Arenal volcano behind to drive to the Monteverde Rain Forest. The road was still reasonable here, although we hit a few traffic jams, Costa Rican style.

Everyone told us that the drive could take between 4 and 6 hours, but when we looked at the map and saw that it was 40 miles, I thought they had to be kidding. Until we saw the roads for more than half of the trip.

This was probably the best road we encountered after a few miles of driving. I couldn't take pictures of the bad ones, we were bouncing around too much, and I was trying not to vomit. But its all part of the adventure, right?

In what I am starting to worry was an effort to have me killed, Josh convinced me to do the pulley things through the forest canopy. They strap you into these harness things, put helmets on you, clip you to a wire, and shoot you through the rain forest.

Here I am flying through the canopy of trees! WHEEEEEEE! After I stopped hyperventilating, I kind of liked it!

This was the same forest where we saw the tarantula, bats, lizards, frogs and lots of bugs. We were told that jaguars lived in the forest, but thankfully didn't see any.

We stayed in Monteverde for just a day and a half before braving the roads to Manuel Antonio National Park that afternoon. This is the winter, or rainy season, in Costa Rica, but thankfully we hit a two week period where it feels like summer. It hardly rained and the temperatures were high. They called it their 'veranito' and I'm assuming its what people sometimes call an 'Indian Summer' (politically incorrect though it may be).

I think Josh tried to kill me here too.

Check out this bridge! EEK!

Manuel Antonio was AMAZING. It feels like paradise with monkeys swinging in the trees above you, skies so clear and blue, fruit growing on trees everywhere you look and hot hot hot. We even made some friends along the way.

If you have kids, this place is unbelievable. I would have died of happiness as a child with so many animals around me. When we ate breakfast iguanas would walk around the restaurant and monkeys would hang off the roof of the little hut.

And the water is so warm. Bath water temperature with little crabs and fish swimming around. The waves were a little strong, but there were inlets where you could swim without being thrown around.

Truly breathtaking.

One night for dinner, we followed Frommer's recommendation for sushi (it is a beach town, after all) and got a peep show included in the meal!

I don't know if I have laughed so hard in a long long time. Especially since the lizards kept changing positions and moving while they did the deed. Josh learned a lot of new vocabulary that night.

But the monkeys, oh my goodness, the monkeys. They are so cute and playful, although it did make me a bit sad that they seem so unafraid of humans. There were a few that walked right up to us, begging for food, and many steal food out of people's bags.

I loved seeing them, don't get me wrong. Its just that as I looked at the mommy monkeys carrying their babies and eating bread from bags stolen off of tourists, I kept thinking that we are so far removed from their normal habitat and ways of survival that it is dangerous.

These babies are learning that humans are safe and that isn't true. Human food and fruits treated with pesticides aren't safe for monkeys either. Sigh.

But aren't they gorgeous? This picture is without zooming, that is how close they came. This particular monkey kept looking around, so it was hard to keep him in focus.

Lest you think the vacation was all adventure and hiking and driving on mountain roads, this is how I spent most of my time.

I'll tell you a secret, I love mystery and crime novels. SHHH! I hate to destroy my image as a lover of academics. Don't you love my big floppy hat? Josh called it my tourist beacon.

Two days in Manuel Antonio, and we returned to San Jose where we focused on very important stuff- SHOPPING and EATING. I am in a bit of withdrawal from delicious food. I ate rice and beans and plantains at every meal, and fresh delicious fruit, and drank strong flavorful coffee. Yum.

One of the very best parts was talking to Josh is Spanish throughout the entire trip. His Spanish speaking skills improved DRAMATICALLY. He is far far better than I could have hoped for, and I guess he missed me too.

So I suppose our month apart was a success! This December we are planning a trip to Argentina for him to meet the rest of my family, and I am ecstatic that they will be able to talk to each other! I am so lucky to have such a wonderful husband!


z said...

Yay! Thank you for posting these! You guys are so cute!

Phantom Scribbler said...

Adorable. Thank you for sharing your vacation with us! Especially since I am too cowardly to attempt anything like this myself. So fun living vicariously through your blog!

Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

*claps* Great photo essay.

The guides took great pleasure in telling me that even if I could outrun the lava, the gases would still kill us before we could get away

LOL! And I'm so proud of you for doing the zipwire. Aren't those things super-fun?! Again, welcome back.

Chris said...

LOVE your photo essay, and I am seething with jealousy. It looks like so much fun... crazy horse, ants, and mokeys included. LOL

What an adorable couple the two of you are.

Jill said...

Welcome home! Your vacation looks like it was an interesting, fun, beautiful adventure; thanks for sharing the photos and stories. I really enjoyed them!

YG&B said...

Fabulous, HL! your photo essay brought back lots of fabulous costa rican memories. i love the canopy rides through the forest! and your horse stories reminded me of "salchichon" who dragged me-slowly-through the costa rican mountainside ages behind the group in the dark and the rain. i knew i was going to be attacked by banditos. but now i look back on it fondly and so will you!