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Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and back again

On our second day in La Fortuna, the only activity I had planned for the day was an activity our entire group had signed up for.  I had been mentally prepping for this one the whole trip.  The planned activity was zip lining, AKA Canopy Tour and several other monikers.

In brief, these are tours of the tree tops.  Strong cables are strung between trees and people glide on them on little pulleys while strapped into harnesses.  While I can’t say that there was no trepidation, I can say it was a highlight of the trip.  I can’t say that I was looking that much at the trees and the wildlife, but I can say it was a genuine adrenaline rush.  We made ten jumps between various trees on a resort near La Fortuna.  Some of the jumps were small, some were really quite long.  The last real line was over a river and quite long.

When you zip line, you wear a harness that’s strapped to a pulley and you use a sort of leather strap on your dominant hand as a brake to control your speed.  On our first jump, like several of us, I fell short of the next platform, having applied too much brake.  I resolved after having to use my hands to pull myself up the last little bit of cable that I wasn’t doing that again.  I barely slowed down afterward and was one of only a few in the group to make each successive leap to the next platform.  I simply refused to brake!  At least until the guide on the platform was waving his hands at me to slow down!

After our last leap, we got onto a cart and drove back to the resort.  They sold us photos of ourselves taken while we were going between the trees.  I think I should work on this as a new profession – one CD cost $45!  They told us we could make as many copies as we wanted at least.  So, after we got back into town and had lunch, I was duly appointed to get some blanks and sit down in the internet cafe and make copies.  The fun part was that the software was in Spanish and apparently the first computer I sat at had an issue with it’s CD drive as it broke after the 4th copy!  The next machine was much faster.

Didn’t do much else that day.  We had our last full group meal that night as one of the group was staying there to go to Monteverde with her Aunt.  Afterward, hung out with part of the group (Lenny, James, and Sidra) who didn’t go to La Disco until retiring to the room to more or less do my last packing for the trip.  I knew the next night in San Jose would be rushed so I wanted to have my stuff together.  My bags needed to be ready to be loaded up when the rafting group left in the morning.

All but three of us were going whitewater rafting.  I had considered doing it, but all in all, if I wanted to white water raft that bad, I have plenty of choices here and it was one of the more expensive activities.  I just didn’t have that much interest basically.  So, the three of us, James, Lenny, and I were staying behind that morning and would be picked up to rejoin the group at 1:30pm.  Instead, we went back to Baldi Hot Springs for the day!  Perfect way to spend my last full day in Costa Rica.  Resting in hot springs, going up and down the water slides several times and just generally feeling like a complete bum!

When we met back up with the group, we had lunch and then took the long winding roads back to San Jose.  It was a three hour drive into the city.  We all wondered what it would look like after the earthquake, and ironically we couldn’t see any damage.  Apparently the bulk of it was outside of the area we were staying in.  I’d seen lots of photos on TV and heard conflicting stories about death tolls, but didn’t feel it and never really saw it.  It was very odd, like being at the scene of an event but not sharing in it.  Don’t get me wrong, very happy not to have been harmed in anyway, but it still created a surrreal feeling.

We had our last group meal at a restaurant that served Thai and Indian food.  I had Indian chicken curry!  Yum!!  The restaurant was nice and it was a great way to end the trip.  After dinner and chatting, we all made our way back to the hotel for our final night.  We chatted a bit and said our farewells.  Jenn and I were the first out the next morning.  We had to leave the hotel about 5am.  I took one more hot shower (my second since getting back to San Jose and the magic of hot water) and went to bed for all of four hours before I dragged the last of my belongings into my bag and knocked on Jenn’s door.  Our tax driver was waiting for us and made good time to the airport.

Of course, we get to the airport, and our flight to Houston was delayed (apparently one of many that day).  We made up a lot of time in the air but still think we got to our gate late.  Both of us had tight connections, I to Atlanta, Jenn to Toronto.  I still don’t know if she made hers but the last I saw her she was still in the immigration line.  I managed to run and get far into the line.  But as soon as I got through passport control, I stood and waited for my bags forever.  People were complaining vehemently all around me.   I swear it’s either Continental or Houston or both, but every connection I’ve made there has been a nightmare.  My bag finally shot on to the conveyor and I was off to the races.  I managed to get through customs quickly and re-checked the bag and ran to my airplane.  By the time I got there, I felt half dead and looked only slightly better.  I barely made it onto my plane.

The whole flight, I wondered what the chances were my bag had made it.  It wasn’t long after landing before I figured out it hadn’t.  The funny thing was there were a lot of people without their luggage who weren’t making connections like me.  It’s like they left a pile of suitcases sitting somewhere in Houston.  I stood in line, filed my luggage claim and was told I’d get it delivered to my house by 10pm.

I dragged myself home, only stopping at the grocery store to replenish the cupboard enough for a day or two and collapsed on the sofa to wait for my bags.

I drifted in and out of sleep for awhile.  About 10pm, I woke up and called Continental about my bags.  They told me they came in at 9pm and it shouldn’t be long…  I drifted back to sleep.  About 11pm, they called me to say my bag would be delivered about 3am!  And asked if anyone would be awake or if there was someplace outside they could leave it!  I think not!  I asked if we could just schedule it for today so I could properly go to bed.

Somewhere in all this, I also got an e-mail from Lenny and James that they had gotten stuck at the airport here in a missed connection back to the UK.  They got put up at a nice hotel near the airport at least.

We exchanged emails today.  I suggested some places they might do touristy stuff and where to shop if they were interested.  They ended up deciding on the shopping spree option.  I can’t entirely blame them.  We had the fastest reunion dinner ever at the airport this evening, only the day after we all left Costa Rica!  HA!  Hopefully, they are 30 minutes into their flight home by now!

Oh, and yes, I finally got my bag, a bit before 3pm today!  So, I finally feel like I’m back.  It may take me a few days to get back into the swing of life here.  It was a great trip.  I’ve told several people now that it feels like ages since I left for this trip, not two weeks.  And not in a bad way, it’s just that I saw and did so much, it just feels like a month passed while I was away.  Much to catch up on, much to remember.

I’m not sure when I’ll next call on Costa Rica or Nicaragua.  They were both interesting in their own way.  The trip did concentrate more on Nicaragua, so maybe more Costa Rica some day.  I’d particulalry like to see some of the non-westernized parts.  La Fortuna was so tourist-driven that I hardly took any photos there.  It seemed like they’d look like they could have been anywhere. That said, there were parts of Nicaragua that, even without hot water, I much enjoyed and I’d like to see more.  Granada could have been easily a day or two longer and I heard good things about Leon.  Nicaragua was probably one of the poorest places I’ve been.  We were told only Haiti in this hemisphere was poorer, but it’s also one of the safest places in Latin America and the people I met were unfailingly kind.  Also due to the conflicts of the 80’s, a very young country, we were told between 60 and 70% of the population is under 30.  I definitely left with a warm place in my heart for Nicaragua and had fun in Costa Rica, but there are so many places I’ve yet to see that it’s hard to say that I’ll definitely go back soon.

Hopefully I’ll get to start going through the photos from the trip soon!


    1. It was totally incredible! If you enjoy flying, I suggest hot air balloon, too! It's not exactly whooshing along on a zip line, but it was still without question my favorite experience in Egypt, and that's putting it up alongside pyramids, temples, and camels, oh my!

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