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28/3 - 19/4 1999.

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 Oversćt        Diary 1 2 3

 Line is with Nephendis in Costa Rica to save nature. Between two projects, she has 14 days of vacation; "Will I come over and join her on a tour around the country?" Of course, and since I get convinced Morten and Jesper that Laos at the end of the dry season is not a success, they join the idea of Costa Rica.

28.3. Directly from the bar (where I work) to Kastrup airport at 5am. We stop in the Netherlands and there will be time to replace the camera with an even smaller one. After 19 hours of flight, we are in Costa Rica, catching a taxi and heading towards the capital of San Jose. On the way, we hear a football match: Costa Rica beats El Salvador, and it does not happen in silence! Gooooooooooooooal!
We find a reasonable hotel for $ 5 and go into the centre, there are no high-rise buildings in glass and steel, not a lot of traffic but quite a relaxed atmosphere. There are regularly a small herd of parrots flying through the streets, on their way from one park to another. After a chicken (pollo), we roll over on our miserable mattresses for a little while at nine. We've been on the move for 25 hours.

29.3. I get up at 5.45 and head for a walk in the quiet and almost empty city. The brothers get up at seven, and we begin the arduous pursuit of decent breakfast and coffee. Today's first experience is a serpentarium that houses most of the country's snake species. Nice and clean with extremely well-decorated terrariums. There are 17 poisonous snakes in the country, including the sea snake that has the strongest poison nature can produce. There is no antidote for obvious reasons; one does not reach it anyway.

We find a tour operator to help us find the most interesting sights. I have prepared a complete list and plan from home, but not surprisingly; it is deeply unrealistic, if you have less than a year's holiday. We are also slowed down by Easter, which the Costa Ricans take very seriously. Line needs at least 72 hours outside Costa Rica, to extend her stay, so Panama must stay in "her" 14 days. We get some tips and continue around the quiet capital. Finds a bank where Morten discovers he has left $ 100 and his purse for the maid, under his pillow.

After a bite to eat, we head out to the city zoo. Small and cozy with mainly local animals. On our way back to the centre, we see the central market. Not exactly the vibrant agricultural market I had expected, but still very interesting. While Morten and Jesper return to the hotel to find Morten's purse, I head to Corres Central to meet with Line. She shows up smiling and tanned, almost at the same time the brothers arrive, and we find a cozy café where we can hear about Line's first two months and make plans for the next weeks.
We book Line into my room, and head out to enjoy an Italian dinner. Head the beds at 10am.

30.3. After breakfast, we call around to find a car. Taxi to Hertz, where we rent a 4WD for 70 $ per day. We drive through the city along the Pan-American Highway, through sugar canes and coffee plantations.
We find the beautiful mountain road between Zazero and Fortuna mentioned in the guide, and at a 60 meter high waterfall, we have a picnic. It is teeming with birds, ranging from finches to large starlings to vultures. Some hot springs have made some pools and a restaurant. Bloody expensive, but there is also plenty of Mallorca vibe! We will be hanging out, as it is also one of the best vantage points for the Vulcan Arenál. However, our wait is not rewarded; the massive cloud cover does not leave the top of the volcano.

15 kilometres of dirt road leads us to another vantage point, right at the foot of the volcano. We walk up a riverbed, but the clouds still cover the view. Some tracks in the riverbed sand look like leopard tracks, but the darkness suddenly falls on, so we rush back to the car. Sun down 17.50, dark-blak night 18.05! The air is trembling with birds and insects singing.

On the way down the mountain, we see bearded birds and a huge intense swarm of fireflies. The bearded birds sit on the road with their phosphorescent eyes. Some pretty big aga toads cross the road, and in the thickets along the road there are animal eyes. We have dinner by the hot baths and find night shelter in a nearby village.

31.3. I get up with the sun, and botanize in the "hotel" backyard, which is almost jungle. Hummingbirds, giant beetles, lizards, magpies and vultures. The others show up, and we drive up to Arenál again. The clouds are still covering, but we find a road in a national park that leads us almost to the top.

We can smell the volcano, and periodically a roaring roar are heard. Sounds like a mixture of thunder and the cobblestones unloaded. The earth vibrates, and all in all, it gives an intense experience. Nature is beautiful; 2-3 meters high grasses, river beds and a dense and moss-overgrown forest. The lizards and toads, butterflies and beautiful wasps. After a long walk, we reach a 20 meter high wall of boulders. This is the boundary of the volcanic eruption in 1992. A small sign states that no stones may be removed from the Roskilde-sized area. We are the only tourists that day, so I can see that in 3-4 billion years, the area will be empty!

Recognizing that we will not be able to see the summit today, we drive from the Arenál volcano around the giant large artificial Arenál Lake to Arenál city. On the way, we see spiders in the trees across the road. Then a coati suddenly appears on the roadside. Funny little cousin. We aim for Monteverde, which holds some of the most beautiful cloud forests in the world. Spot a sign with Sky Walk. We have to try that.

The area is exclusively deep canyons with dense forest. Five walkways are stretched out, each about 200 meters long and 65 meters to the bottom of the gorge. It gives the effect of walking from the forest floor and through the wood crowns to the magnificent view of the gorge. On the way up, we pass orchids, ferns, bromeliads and other epiphytes of the world. Insects and birds swarm everywhere. Somewhere, a metallic hummingbird sits and sings. It sounds almost like a toads quack.
The walk continues to Santa Elena Park, where, in addition to all the usual, we see a large black pheasant with blue beak. We find shelter for the night, and tilt about at 9 o'clock.

1.4. Up at 5.30, just to ascertain; the clouds rise up earlier. As usual, Arenál is totally covered. Heading out to the local national park, where we see anoles, leaf ants, squirrels, agams, hawks, hummingbirds, butterflies, including the great blue Morpheus, American dovetail kite, a single agouti (6 kg of guinea pigs), white-tailed and black-tailed coatis, white-headed monkeys, green iguanas, metallic beetles and a myriad of beautiful flowers and beautiful plants. We choose an alternate path and get a great walk down and up an almost vertical hillside.

Well sweaty, we continue to Iguana Park, a huge, un-fenced area with 70-80,000 green iguanas. It is an attempt to breed utility animals directly in the primeval forest without destroying it. At first, we don't see a single one, but then suddenly the trees are packed with them. They live on leaves and despite their physique they are very agile.

The park also raises red macaws. They have been close to extinction due to human trapping. In nature, they have no enemies, in fact they "hang out with the vultures in the tree tops". In one clearing, we see two sitting and moaning inside. We wait a bit, and finally they fly. Other smaller parrots look like they're just about to crash because of their feverish baskets with their short wings. The red / blue / yellow / green macaws fly like giant swallows.

The next thing that meets us on the narrow path is a small bunch of squirrels. Then comes a coloured seed (Dendrobates auratus) and some helpless iguanas (Jesus lizards) that can cover 20-30 meters on the surface of the water. We are, not surprisingly, first out of the park after closing.
A guard with a machine gun closes after us, and we drive into the nearest major city. Here is a bad surprise awaits us: Easter means that all bars, restaurants, kiosks - yes, even the restaurant "The Golden Gull" (MacDonalds) are closed! However, we manage to detect some junk food, so we don't have to go to bed hungry.

More adventures awaits in Diary 2


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