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Published: June 23rd 2017
Geo: 10.4797, -84.7156
In the many, many, many years that we have been together, I can't recall hearing DH scream or giggle- presumably these aren't two characteristics you would expect from a former police officer? She does have a series of gasps that I have learned to interpret as a summons for a needed bug squishing (the size of the gasp was usually a good indicator as to diameter of the spider to be dispatched), and she does get pretty close to wet-your-pants-stifled-giggling while watching Modern Family. But suffice to say that screaming and giggling are not a normal part of her emotional repertoire so imagine my surprise in Arenal, when she not only did both, but combined them (she was only a couple of bulging eyeballs short of being carted away in a straitjacket), and sustained this bizarre noise at a loud volume for close to half a mile at a height of 660 feet.
How did we get to the point where Princesses were flying through the jungle canopies of Costa Rica at speeds normally reserved for jet airplanes? After our rafting adventure we made camp in Sarapiqui in the hopes of making an early morning run to one of
the shyest active volcanoes in the world, and the most visited site in Costa Rica- Poas Volcan normally only shows its bubbling cauldron for a few minutes early in the morning before clouding over for the rest of the day. Ever the voyeur, I was hoping to grab a couple of photos before it covered itself up again (and the wildlife in the park is supposed to be special as well). Because we were coming from the north along a relatively narrow mountain pass, we were subject to the whims of nature, and sure enough, just 1 mile from the turn, the road was blocked by a rock slide. We waited for a while as some road crews were working to clear the road but as the clouds rolled in it became obvious that getting a peek at Poas wasn't going to happen so we spun our vehicle around and pointed ourselves in the direction of another volcano- Arenal.
Given that Princess1 and Princess2 started most days on this trip with a lengthy, and deep, conversation on whether or not their shorts matched their tops, and whether either one emphasized certain body parts that should not be emphasized (did you know
that as you tan you should adjust your lipstick colour so your lips don't start looking cartoonish??), I'm not sure they even noticed this derailment of plans but I was a little disappointed.
La Fotuna and the area around Arenal is the epicentre of eco tourism in CR and somehow mixes the highlights of nature with somewhat geeky adventure tourism, and it does seem to work. We started our own adventure here with a 'night safari' which was effectively a frog hunt for the somewhat iconic Red Eyed Green Tree Frog. Since Deb P's night vision is pretty much non-existent (and I suspect that she didn't use glasses because they would clash with her frog-hunting outfit?), it was more than surprising that she was something of an amphibian whisperer. Frogs, toads, and a number of otherwise camouflaged insects seemed to call out to her, so much so, that the guide started following her around. Sure enough she was the first to spot the big prize of the night hunt which was no small feat- the Red Eyed Green Tree Frog is relatively small and tends to sit quietly on leaves. Because of this frogs peculiar affection for Dep P, he put
on quite the posing performance and we all got lots of great pics.
The next day we bridged to our more geeky adventuring by spending the morning kayaking on Lake Arenal (something of a massive artificial lake that was dammed in 1979 and initially generated 70% of the countries electricity- it now generates about 20%). Not bothering to dry off we went straight to a waterfall rappelling adventure- four rappels, three in or around waterfalls. Getting pushed backwards off a cliff doesn't make for the most relaxing way to see the beauty of Costa Rica but it did get the heart racing. And perhaps most importantly for the girls, our kayaking outfits were not out of place as we rappelled (although the harnesses did seem to cinch things a little too tightly). And who knew we would be so wet in the rainforest?
Suitably energized, the next day saw us taking a sky tram to much higher elevations in order to zipline- a sporting adventure inextricably linked to Costa Rica. CR can make a very legitimate claim to being the birthplace of ziplining and although we have had opportunities to zipline elsewhere, DH was determined to wait to do it at its
birthplace. Nowadays ziplining is the domain of touristos of all shapes and sizes looking for near death experiences... but with all of the appropriate safety precautions including a souvenir shop photo showcasing their laughing-death-in-the-face bravery? At one time, however, this gravity-fueled conveyance using cables and pulleys threaded between two points was created by workers and residents who needed to quickly transport people and supplies across canyons, rivers, and other impassable areas in remote regions of the Costa Rican rainforest- it was also used extensively by biologists as they studied life in the jungle canopies.
True to form, DH, who professes a fear of heights and speed, picked the highest, fastest, and most challenging course in Arenal (although I think they all make that claim) and with Deb P firmly in tow (who also professes a fear of heights) we geared up. A couple of baby cables softened us up for the first of the monster lines (as well as my surprise introduction to DH screaming like a wounded howler monkey). As advertised the height and speed was freaky although a couple of lines had us shooting right through the jungle foliage (at least i'm assuming that's what that blurry green
was all about). The braking system was much more advanced than our earlier experience- it involved a combination of wiggling the pulley, a rope/lasso mechanism used by the operator, and foam bumpers to crash into. We all made it through and, although it was probably more amusement park ride than sport, it was great fun. The girls have both indicated that CR may have seen the start and finish of their ziplining careers (and to be honest, I'm not sure I want to hear that noise coming out of DH again).
And apparently ziplining creates an appetite for some as Deb P finishes up our time in Arenal by ordering the family platter for dinner (you have to see the attached picture).
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