||[Dec. 9th, 2008|01:13 am]
Sigh. Oh well. I guess the next two weeks shall be GO GO GO GO and then a nice couple of weeks for Christmas. I also have my sunburn fading away to look forward to in the short term. I made a conscious decision to get toasted while hiking, such was my need for sun and disgust at my whiteness, and I am only slightly regretting that decision.
Costa Rica is amazing. I am always sad to leave a Latin American country, but this one is pretty high in the ranking so far. Major downsides: bad highways and expensive everything. However, their national parks rival ours for awesomeness. Please, Latin America, follow their lead. There is ridiculous cash to be made in hacking out a few trails in the wilderness.
My stay in Liberia ended up a two-night stay, so the rainforest canopy zipline shall have to come next time (March?). The Rincon de la Vieja National Park was a very satisfactory and full two-day bit, complete with three intense waterfalls, two volcanoes, and an amazing range of ecosystems in a very small area. The hotel I stayed at I would recommend to anybody (Hotel Guachipelin), as it is VERY well run and built, without wrecking the country feel.
Some highlights from the Park:
I saw an amazng collection of wildlife, defeating my conviction that despite the hype, odds were low at actually seeing any. I saw: 45 beautifly deep blue butterflies and a smattering of others, 1 Guatuza, 1 Ardilla (squirrel), 1 Mapachin, multiple Monos Carablancas (including one with a baby on her back), multiple Iguanas, tons of birds, and I actually think I'm missing some. It was as if the park rangers had hurried out and placed them all in their designated places before the tourists got there for viewing. The three waterfalls were each about 4 miles from one another, and one ridiculously uphill...apparently they don't do switchbacks in Costa Rica, which I admire to some degree. Many have been the times when I wished to trailblaze between inefficient switchbacks. There were also multiple boiling muds pools and little volcanic vents strewn around, making various areas smell like sulpher, but the wind was VERY strong and enough to blow it all away. This all came on day two, when I did not have to travel and had more time to check out the park. Day one I set out to conquer the peak (roughly the same hight as Huphreys in Flag, only starting out at the elevation of Phoenix and not Snowbowl). I got most of the way to the top, but partway through the barren windswept and burned out section close to the rim of the crater, the wind was gusting at well over 75mph and I truly feared to be blown off the ridge. Apparently that very thing happend to some guy a week or so ago. I had the sense to come back down, but mostly because there was no chance of a good photo at the top. The clouds were dense, all huddled around the top, and blowing rain in my face that felt more like rocks than droplets.
The hiking, as previously stated, ranged from casual to intense, giving me exactly what I had been missing in DC, INCLUDING much sun as I the jungle gave way to windswept semiarid areas that look an awful lot like Tucson and Prescott. I would sum up and say Guanacaste (the state in which all this is to be found) is pretty much Arizona, plus water. I am in love with life again, including the sunburn.