Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 6 - La Fortuna, Costa Rica *UPDATE*

Well, I´ve decided it was a good thing that the guy made me get off the computer last night, because I was so jacked up on adrenaline I honestly would have stood there and wrote all night...haha. :)  I´m a little more calm this morning after getting some sleep (the dorm wasn´t full last night - just me and 5 guys - so I took the pillow and blanket off of another bed too and slept great!) :)

There is so much more to write about the canyoning and repelling trip through the rainforest!!  One thing I think I forgot to mention is that the last waterfall repell was 200 feet!  TWO HUNDRED!  That is a LONG ways down, let me tell you! :)  I was kind of a little nervous, and the guides were young and fun and messing with me the whole time.  I was at the very top, all harnessed it, and the guy said okay turn around (with my back to the repell below) and smile for the picture.  Well as soon as I turned around, he pushed me back, so yea, you can imagine the shock on my face in that one!! should be good.  He had me with the rope and caught my weight and pulled me back up, but it still freaked me out, sure did give them a good laugh though! ;)  Many more fun stories like that, but I´ll just have to wait to tell them in person, just too much to type.

 Okay, so back to where I left off with the volcano trip last night...

So we got to the base of the volcano, on the other side of La Fortuna because that it the direction the flaming rocks are falling right now, not on the side of the town.  Oh and one thing real quick, this volcano doesn´t have liquid lava flows running down it (like the one in Guatemala), it never really has.  I guess there are different types of volcanoes??  So this one, when it is active, spews out big (I´m talking like the size of small cars) rocks that are bright red, and they roll down the side of the mountain until they break up, and they catch the rain forest on fire.  So this whole active side of the volcano was all black with lava almost to the base, where there was still some rainforest vegetation left.  The other side of the volcano, the side we see from town, is all green, covered with trees. 

So when we got to the active side, there were a couple of short hikes we went on first.  My guide was just awesome, the coolest, funniest guy ever.  He grew up on the volcano, and was one of the few survivors from the huge eruption on June 29 (MY BIRTHDAY - this volcano and I have a connection!) 1968.  He was 7 years old when it erupted and it killed thousands of people in the town below, which is now Lake Arenal.  He has been to the summit of the volcano 5 times in his life!!  He had a whole picture book and lots of stories, so yes, I hiked right on his heels again and picked his brain about everything in the rain forest and the volcano the whole time.  It was awesome. 

So I´m not sure how to explain this, but the whole time we were there, you could here the massive rocks rolling down the mountain, just constantly kind of drizzling out from the top.  It kind of sounded like thunder off in the distance, and then like a bunch of horses hooves running when it got closer.  That´s the only thing I can think of  It was pretty much constantly spewing huge flaming rocks every minute or so, and it was super cool to here...but that is pretty common for this volcano, especially since it is so active right now. 

So we did a little hike (just around the base pretty much, they won´t let you get very high right now) to a waterfall, which was beautiful.  I climbed out on a little log and on to a big rock in the middle of the river and have a SWEET picture. :) 

Then we hiked some more, and I saw a big thick vine, and I just HAD to ask if I could swing on it.  Haha...he thought it was pretty funny, and I know this is maybe a little weird, but I have SERIOUSLY always wanted to swing through the vines of a rainforest like a monkey, or Tarzan.  :)  AND I GOT TO!  Well I couldn´t swing from vine to vine, there was only this one thick one that looked solid, and I couldn´t get to any other ones.  I tried to grab another one once and fell, so I just swung on this one and yelled ¨aaaaaah--ah-ah-aaahhh-ah!  WAAAAHOOO!¨ Haha...he was laughing so hard I thought he was going to fall over, and I was just grinning from ear to ear.  Thankfully Max pulled himself together enough to snap a picture or two for me. :)  That was SO cool, really. :) 

After that, we hiked some more, with our guide (William) talking about all the different species of trees and plants and animals.  We saw a snake, some lizards, frogs, etc.  Nothing too crazy.  Next we were going one more hike to the observatory for Pacaya Volcan, where the seismograph is.  Perfect views from just above the rainforest, obviously.  So our guide was behind us at a stopping point to go to the bathroom, where there was also a great view, and Max and I were just about to cross the hanging bridge.  Literally, we were exchanging cameras to take pictures of each other on the bridge when we heard this deep, much much louder rumbling.  We both froze, and looked at each other, it kept going (we're still frozen), louder and louder, for probably 10 seconds or so.  LOUD thunder and horses hooves, THEN it sounded like fireworks, like when you light something big and the fuse is burning before it blows up, THAT is when we grabbed each other and turned and SPRINTED back to our guide (who was like 50 feet around a curve behind us, and he was just standing there grinning, looking at the volcano, he knew what was going to happen.  Max and I, however, were FREAKING out and ready to run for our lives, literally screaming!  Haha...we got to our guide and to a perfect spot to veiw the volcano just when a huge plume of gas and volcan¡c ash came bellowing out of the top!!  I´ve never seen anything like it before in my life, and I can´t even really describe the sounds...  William said we were quite lucky to see this big of an eruptin on such a clear night.  Heck, we were lucky to even see the volcano this time of the evening since it is usually so cloudy.  He said he hadn´t seen one this good since 2002, and he does these tours EVERY NIGHT.  Can you say lucky?? ;)  So yea, it took me a good 5 or 10 seconds to close my jaw and get my camera out, but I´ve still got a couple good pictures. 

There were even BIGGER rocks rolling out now, and many more.  Plus the ash that went all the way to the town of La Fortuna.  (When we got back to the hostel, they said when it erupted everyone from town ran out in to the streets to see if it was another huge one and they should run for there lives too...haha)  It was just the coolest thing ever, and I don´t think the pics (or video Max eventually got out and took) is going to do it justice, but maybe... :) 

After it calmed down just a little bit, we walked across the hanging bridge and to the seismograph/look out point for the volcano, which was like two minutes away. 

And guess what else happened. :)  The monkeys, who had obviosyly been living in the trees closer to the base of the volcano, were now crazy and swinging through the trees chattering, trying to get away from everything.  Max was really freaking out because he hasn´t ever seen a monkeyin the wild.  So we took off on foot through the trees to try and chase them and get some pictures (William said it was okay).  We didn´t go too far, maybe a few hundred feet, and tried to get some good pictures.  It was really something to see and hear...  I´ve seen a lot of monkeys, but there is just something about seeing them in the wild that is SO much better! 

After that, we sat at the observatory and watched the falling rocks, which eventually tapered off, until well after dark.  It was amazing.  The frogs and crickets and sounds of the rainforest and night, the fireflies lighting up the tops of the rainforest, and then big volcano towering above everything tossing out red flaming rocks, it was just surreal.  Just like a postcard!  :)  William, who sees this stuff every day, was still so excitd and thought if we kept waiting we would see it erupt again.  Max and I had seen enough and were ready to go to the Baldi Hot Springs, so we finally left around 7 (it gets DARK at like 6 here, so weird.) 

Baldi Hot Springs, oh man.  Talk about the perfect ending to a perfect day!  There are over 30 natural hot spring pools, all different temperatures, from like 90 to 152 degrees!  I literally could only stick my toes in the 152 degree one for like 3 seconds...that is HOT!  That can't be safe!  We hung out there, lounging in the hot springs and talking about the crazy day until almost 10, when we finally came back to the hostel. 

So the river here (that flows to the hot springs) used to be a normal cold water river until the big eruption in ´68, and now it is almost 100 degrees!  It´s so weird to see a HOT river in the wild!  (Here are a couple pics of the steam coming off the river on the drive to the volcano)

Okay, so belive it or not, that is really a SHORT version of yesterday! :)  Max and the guy from Slovakia and I are heading off here soon for Monteverde.  There are rainforests, cloud forests, and dry forests in Costa Rica.  I´m not interested in dry forests, I like waterfalls, and am really excited to see the difference in the cloud forests today!

I´ll write more tonight from Monteverde!

Bye for now! :)


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