Calygo Eurilochius
It's high tide in Manuel Antonio park and there is the option of wading through the water, but there are signs warning of crocodiles, so we let a boatman row us across. There are hermit crabs everywhere, popping in and out of their shells, and iguanas keep crossing our path. We look for sloths, but see monkeys, swinging from tree to tree above us, and Jesus Christ lizards on the water in front of us.

Back on the beach, I walk out into the sea, but the current is strong, I don't stay there long.

The next day, still in Manuel Antonio, I found many butterflies fluttering around me; a large clump of bamboo; more monkeys; another waterfall.

The day after that, we headed back to San José. My flights were delayed and I missed all my connections and the flight I eventually got was awful, but actually, all of that was a long time ago now. I'm not sure why I'm even writing about it.

Every time the plane is about to land, I wonder if the planet I step out on is the same planet that I left and what exactly will be different about it this time.

Photos on Flickr: Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.
Monteverde
I arrived too early to see the butterflies, so decided to wander around the Hidden Valley. I passed a blue beetle, some more wonderful trees, and a waterfall, rushing down over shimming rocks.

I was watched by coatis in the trees, brown and raccoon-like with panda eyes, and loudly grunting.

I then look down into the valley, full of trees, and gazed at the big blue morpho butterflies flitting across.

Then after that, we left Monteverde and travelled along the bumpy roads, full of potholes and stopped for rice and beans. Looking over from a heavily trafficked road bridge, were many crocodiles, sleeping in the mud.

Photos on Flickr: Hidden Valley, Costa Rica.
I weighed myself and found that if I was a bat, I would have to consume about 400 bananas a day. There were also scales that indicated how many buckets of insects and flower nectar I would have to eat. Mostly the conclusion was too much. I don't think I could become a bat.

The Bat Jungle also contained bronze models of giant bat heads and lots of random information about bats, such as that there would be no tequila without bats, since they pollinate the agave plant. Balsa wood and figs are also often pollinated by bats.

I listened to the sounds of the bats, translated by a machine into sounds I could hear. Then after that, I entered a room with cute fruit bats in it, curled up together initially, but all beginning to squirm if just one bat started to move.
Monteverde Cloud Forest
As I reached the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica's most famous bird, the quetzal, flew to a nearby tree.

The photographs I took of hummingbirds are mostly just blurry and slightly ethereal, as if the birds were magical and fairy-like, their presence only temporary and flickering, existing one minute and not the next. Sometimes, in photos, I can see the bright shiny colours of their feathers, but sometimes they just darted away too quickly for me to be able to capture them and that fastness, that hovering, and the fact that if I blinked, they might be gone, made me appreciate them even more.

A guide began to reveal the secrets of the Monteverde Cloud Forest to us, but I remember not really listening to him and instead angling my camera excitedly at an awesome hollow tree in front of me, that was so vast it resembled a cave, or perhaps a labyrinth I should explore more. I think I fell in love with the cloud forest then.

Then after that, was the Sky Trek. Attached to a zipwire, 130m (426ft) high, I soared over the tree-tops and through the clouds, while looking down at the dense forest, basking in mist. I smiled and gasped at least a little, at the trees, so far below me, as I zoomed past.

Then after that, I walked along wobbly suspension bridges, that also hung above the tree-tops and stopped frequently to gaze in wonder at the branches, vines, mosses, think tunks and creeping leaves all combining in an awesome tangle amongst the clouds giving the forest a magnificent feeling of eerieness.

Oh, I stared and stared, beause it felt so unreal, like a weird dream forest full of magic and all kinds of strange creatures and trees.

Photos on Flickr: Monteverde, Costa Rica.
Orchid
Day 9

On my way down into the lush wooded valley, I passed a mastate tree and then caught a glimpse of a thin white strip in the distance - the 70m high La Fortuna waterfall. These days I can't gaze at waterfalls without thinking of Bill Viola's video art. If I watch the water long enough, I think that something will happen other than just rushing water.

I dangled my feet in the water at the foot of the pounding waterfall and a yellow butterfly fluttered past, but that was all.

Day 10

On Saturday September 1st, I mounted a white horse and rode around the foot of the volcano and past the lake to get the cloud forest.

I wandered around the orchid garden in the rain and saw orchids that smelt like honey, blood and chocolate, orchids named Dracula, blooms of tiny orchids, orchids that resembled hummingbirds, dancing ladies and bees, orchids that grew on leaves, and orchids that were green and spikey. Orchids are stranger than I had imagined.

Later that night, I visited the frog garden and by torch light, I saw red frogs, yellow frogs, orange frogs, frogs with crowns, frogs with bulbous eyes like in cartoons, frogs that puff out their throats, frogs that make the loudest sounds, gaudy frogs, bullfrogs and cute little baby frogs.
Volcán Arenal
My gaze had yet to drift from the volcano, so on Tuesday, I followed the heliconias trail and my path was crossed by lizards and butterflies. From the viewpoint, I could see Lake Arenal and it reminded me of the lakes and dense forests in Austria. I turned back to the volcano and it was then that it began to rumble. I watched black boulders bouncing down the sides and puffs of steam appear from the top. I eventually tore myself away and walked down the Coladas trail. Finding myself amongst large lumps of old lava, I again began to gaze at the summit of the volcano, in between clouds, one minute visible and the next minute not.

That night, back at the hotel, I stood amongst my travelling companions on the balcony, eating more pizza, when someone gasped at the volcano, and it was then that we saw it erupting, bright red lava glowing in the night sky.

Photos on Flickr: Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica.
Equalised Tree
The streets of La Fortuna sound with the yaps of dogs and are lined with tourist excursion offices and bright signs repeatedly advertising the same kinds of adventures, but above the small town looms the magnificient Arenal Volcano.

The first night in La Fortuna, I headed to the foot of the volcano to eat pizza and drink "liquid lava", but it was too cloudy to see the volcano that night. Instead, I saw fireflies, hundreds of fireflies, glittering amongst the grass as if it was the sky and they were stars.

After that, I changed into my bikini and drank cocktails in the hot springs of Baldi. When it began to rain, I headed for the hottest pool I could find and let the refreshing raindrops pitter patter onto my shoulders, as I gazed at the palm trees surrounding me.
Rara Avis
Rara Avis is situated in the rainforest in Costa Rica and borders Braulio Carrillo National Park and the Zona Protectora La Selva. Apparently, there are more kinds of plants, birds and butterflies in Rara Avis than in all of Europe.

As we tumbled through villages on the way to the rainforest, the local people would wave to us, as if we were on a carnival float, as opposed to tourists wearing wellington boots, being bounced around in a cart pulled by a tractor. When the settlements petered out, we instead waved to cows with floppy ears.

The route became muddier and bumpier as we journeyed further and further into the rainforest, and videos of this make it appear almost like a rollercoaster ride, with occasional screams.

It was dark, wet and muddy when we finally reached Rara Avis and to get to the remote lodge, we had to cross a river, letting a rope guide us across.

Our rooms were without electricity, so we quickly turned to drinking games and Nicaraguan rum. A drunken haze proved a good cure for ignoring the creatures that might have invaded our rooms that night. Some people found scorpions and tarantulas.

In the morning, we shoved our wellington boots back on, grabbed wooden sticks and began to follow the guide through the squelchy mud as we slipped and he pointed out snakes and bullet ants, but it was when killer bees appeared that people started to run.

Later, we jumped into a pool, where the water was cold and the current was strong, but it still felt fantastic to swim at the foot of a waterfall in the rainforest.

I fell ill with a stomach bug that left me feeling terribly weak for days, so avoided playing an extremely muddy game of football and instead wandered for a while by myself through the rainforest, stopping to gasp at the tangles of leaves and branches and how green everything was.

Photos on Flickr: Rara Avis, Costa Rica. (I didn't take as many photos as I would have liked, since my camera had problems with the humidity.)
Nicaragua
Nicaragua
I travelled by boat along the canal to Tortuguero and saw many birds and occasional crocodiles and monkeys on the way. Yellow butterflies flew from one side of the canal to the other. As I stared into the water, the reflections of trees began to look like buildings and the reflections of clouds like castles.

In Tortuguero, the sand was a rich brown colour and my feet sunk into the wet sand as waved lapped at my legs.

That night, I ate sour cream ice-cream and then headed to the beach again to watch massive turtles come to shore to lay eggs into holes they had dug in the sand, cover them up again and waddle back to the sea. A turtle kicked sand at me, but that was okay.

On Monday morning, I was woken by a rooster in Tortuguero, then found a hermit crab in my bed, before I embarked on another boat ride.

Briefly popped in to Nicaragua to get our passports stamped and to use the toilets.

Photos on Flickr: Nicaragua and Tortuguero, Costa Rica.
Manzanillo
In San José, I ate a breakfast of fresh papaya and spotted rooster while watching a hummingbird hover amongst the red heliconias. ("Gallo pinto" translates literally as "spotted rooster" and consists of rice and beans.)

We travelled by bus for 4 hours to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, a village on the Caribbean coast, passing pineapple plantations on the way. I laid in a hammock for a while, trying to relax, but aware of the insects surrounding me.

While swimming in the warm sea at Puerto Viejo, two wild pigs appeared on the beach, causing havoc, and I couldn't help but think that some of the scenery looked a bit like that in Lost and perhaps they were actually wild boars.

The next day, a guided walk through the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Gandola-Manzanillo, from Manzanillo to Monkey point, revealed sensitive plants whose leaves recoil when you touch them, breadfruit and alien-looking noni, cocoa plants, purple locusts, leaf-cutter ants, pretty spiders, viper snakes, distant sloths and monkeys, giant wasps and millipedes, red dart frogs, orange fungi that looked like giant poppers, trees that could be used as splints, twisted vines that looked like rope, lickable frogs to get you high, and plants that could be used as a blue dye. I was particularly impressed by walking trees, which looked like a bundle of sticks tied up, but are actually trees that can move slightly.

A few more hours were spent in the sea after that and watching the vultures circle us. I remember eating mamones chinos (spikey red lychee type fruits), and plantain chips, where as earlier, in the Manzanillo Park, I watched people munching upon termites that crawled across tree trunks.

Photos on Flickr: Manzanillo, Costa Rica.
On Thursday 23rd August, I flew from London to Miami while watching a Japanese teen comedy about time-travelling inside a washing machine. I also spent hours gazing at the clouds, while I was amongst them and occasionally I caught glimpses of turquoise patches of ocean that were almost glowing.

My time in Miami was limited to having my fingerprints taken and eating a dulce de leche ice-cream while gleefully escaping from the cool air-conditioned buildings of the airport for a few minutes to bask in the warmth of the sun. Perhaps I should have tried the birthday cake flavoured ice-cream, but I didn't know whose birthday it was.

From the plane window, I saw the thin strip of sand that makes up Miami beach and remembered sitting on that beach and swimming in that sea, a few years ago, on a TV-watching business trip.

I tried learning Spanish animal noises, reading articles about Stardust in Spanish, muttering the names of strange fruits my guidebook described while imagining what they would taste like, and using gnaborretnis at every opportunity, but none of that particularly helped me to learn Spanish.

The flight from Miami to San José was much shorter than my previous flight, but it was unexpectedly dark when I arrived in Costa Rica. From the taxi window, the city of San José seemed full of concrete, shopping outlets and restaurants, the kind I had seen previously in Miami, but I also saw houses with ramshackle corrugated tin roofs and cages around the houses, as if the houses were dangerous.

I arrived at the hotel to find the other people on the Costa Rica Adventure were already at a restaurant, so decided to dream of forests.
I am currently near to Quepos.

Today, I have been to a butterfly garden and also to a waterfall and the beach. I have seen iguanas and monkeys.

The cloud forest was amazing!
Today, I´ve mostly been watching a volcano spew lava and rumble.

Yesterday, I left the remote lodge I had been staying at in the rainforest by tractor, and now am in the town of La Fortuna.

Food mostly consists of rice and beans (even for breakfast). Sour cream ice-cream, plantains, crisps made of yuca, strange fruits, rum from Nicaragua (not that I purchased it there, but I did go to Nicaragua!) have also been consumed.

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