gang of dogs

After the awfulness of the past few days, it’s nice to reflect on pretty much the greatest thing in the world that happened to me when we were in Costa Rica (Costa Rica seems like a distant memory after the hideousness of all the hours spent at Miami International Airport…).

On Tuesday afternoon, Rich and I took a stroll down to the beach. We were staying at a crazy beautiful hotel high up on a jungly hill in Santa Teresa, and a stroll to (and from) the beach was a bit of an epic one. It involved walking down pretty much the steepest, rockiest, slipperiest road in the history of the world**. Asphalt hasn’t made it to Central America yet**.

As we slipped and slid down the road, I noted a house at 12 o’clock (that’s straight ahead, right?) and by the chain-link fence there was a kennel, and on top of that kennel there was a dog. As we made our approach, he put his head up and seemed to make a silent summons to two other dogs, who appeared (as if by magic) at his side on the kennel. And then, all three dogs were off the kennel, under the fence, and running towards us on the gravel road.

The three pooches sniffed our hands, determined that we were good eggs, and joined us on our stroll to the beach. BLISS!

Dog gang

When we got to the beach, I expected to lose sight of our 4-legged friends as they took off in search of old fish bones and remnants of beach barbecues, but no! After a quick run in the surf and a quick sniff of some twigs, they were back at my side. The biggest one (some kind of rottweiler/staffy mutt) leaned up against my leg and stared wistfully out to sea. The littlest one (a scraggly white guy with soft ears) dug a hole in the sand behind my back and curled up in a little sandy nest. The middle-sized one (who looked like Snoopy), sat a metre or so away, gazing along the sandy beach.

The Big One

The Snoopy One

If any other dogs approached, they would woof and run after them, so no other pooches even had a hope of pats or a leg to lean on.

O dogs, how I love thee!!

Beach dogs, doin' their thang

The next day, on a trip back from a big juice and a muffin on the beach, I spied with my little eye… ANOTHER DOG!!! Right near where my gang live!! I wondered if this little pooch was part of their dog gang too. He was a PUPPY! Puppies to me are what young boys are to Kate Ceberano (that song is SO wrong….).

Anyhoo, he was digging around in the road, with his over-sized goofy paws, and one of his paws was covered in mud! What a doofus!! It looked like he was wearing a mud-sock. Bless.

Speaking of doofus? Well, I think that hat can be passed over to moi after what happened next. As Mud-Paw dug around, I crouched down and called him over. And over he came. Bounding, in fact. I patted his little red head, scratched his floppy ears, and bid him adieu. But he would not take my goodbye for an answer. In fact, he did everything in his puppy power to stop me from leaving. He scraped at my leg, leaving a big dirty paw print on my calf. He jumped up, not once, but about 400 times**, leaving big streaks of mud all over my skirt. He bit at my hand, and my pockets, and my ankles. My love of dogs had suddenly TURNED AGAINST ME!!!

Don’t ask me how, but somehow I was able to escape from the demon dog and managed to scramble up the steepest, rockiest road in the world to higher ground/safety. My black skirt was now brown. My legs looked like I’d had an accident with some tanning cream. My love of puppies had somewhat soured**…..

Back at our jungle retreat, I washed my skirt, and wondered how I was going to manage for the remainder of our time in Santa Teresa; I did not want to walk back past that dog and risk more muddy clothes and/or loss of limbs from a puppy-toothed mauling, so how would I get to the beach, or to the supermarket, or to the cafe for my morning juice?

I was also mildly disappointed in my original dog friends. Where were they when this shizz was going down? Not coming to my rescue, that’s for sure…

The following day (aka the fateful day that started with our flight in the 12-seater plane and didn’t end until 56 hours later), our taxi arrived to take us to the airport. We drove past the dog gang house, and Snoopy was back on his kennel, gazing out at the road. O Snoopy… And around the bend, there was the puppy!!! AARRRGGGHHH!!!! He was standing on a slab of concrete, ripping up paper. He was surrounded by a nest of torn shreds, and he happily ripped and tore and chewed and munched as we bumped and rolled past.

I said to Rich “There’s that dog!!!! Why I oughta….” while I shook my fist.

And the cab driver turned around and said “Ahhh, perro!!!”

And I said “Si si, PERRO!!” thinking that I was a great speaker of Espanol.

And then the cab driver turned around again and said “Perro LOCO!!!!!”

And I whole-heartedly agreed. You crazy dog.

** Not actually true.

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pear-shaped

Things have been running very smoothly in The Adventures. Rich and I were discussing this just a few days ago: our flights have all been on time, there has been no incident of lost luggage, neither of us has come down with any nasty bugs or bites or rashes….

I don’t really believe in jinxing things just cos you say something’s going well. I do believe that we have just experienced some ol’ fashioned bad luck.

We left Costa Rica yesterday. A taxi collected us from Santa Teresa at one o’clock in the afternoon and we drove for 50 minutes along the dusty, windy, pot-holed road towards the airport in Tambor. The airport in Tambor is a shed, a fridge, a portaloo, and a runway. O – and some scales. We had to weigh our luggage (no surprises there), but then WE both had to stand on the scales as well! When our plane came into sight, I understood why.

It was a teeny, tiny, 12-seater.

And two seats up the front for the pilots.

I said to Rich “I wonder if they’ll serve snacks on this flight.”

We took off down the runway and lifted up into the air above the beach, over the coast, above idyllic islands, and over the mainland. Through clouds, through turbulence (but not much – phewf!), and 25 minutes later, into San Jose International Airport.

Today’s the day we head to Brazil, via Miami.

I asked the lady at the ticketing counter if she could check our bags through to Manaus. She gave me a puzzled look and said “You need a visa to go to Brazil.”

I said “I know – we’ve got them.”

She looked at our passports more closely and said “These visas are not valid. I can’t check you or your bags through to Brazil”.

I got a knot in my tummy and a stinging pain in my eyeballs, but remained calm.

“OK – as long as you can put us on the flight to Miami, we can sort it from there.”

So. Our bags checked, our tickets issued, we headed through security and off to have a late lunch. Sandwich ordered, we put in a call to our travel agent.

“So they’re saying that our visas aren’t valid”, Rich explained.

Our travel agent hmmm-ed and said he’d call the Brazilian embassy in Canberra and get an answer from them. This sounded promising. A few minutes later, Rich’s phone buzzed and it was Brad, informing us that it was all fine. The consulate had confirmed that our visas were valid. Sweet.

At 5.30pm, we boarded our flight to Miami. I enjoyed a can of lemonade and ‘Mr Poppers Penguins’ without the sound. That movie looks quite bad. But I’m a big fan of penguins, so watching their jaunty, CGI-ed adventures helped passed the time. I told Rich a funny joke about penguins, but he didn’t find it as funny as I did… (the joke I told involved a backyard full of penguins, not a truck. And they were all wearing sunglasses in the second part, which I think adds a certain joie de vivre to the joke… Anyway.)

We landed in Miami at 10pm last night, went through immigration, customs, got our bags. The terminal was pretty empty – one of the most depressing things in the world is being in an empty, fleuro-lit, over-air-conditioned airport when all the shops are closed… A few peeps were bundled up in pretzel-like formations on oddly-shaped seats, attempting to get a bit of shut eye. Others just looked at us bleary eyed as we walked past. Airports in the middle of the night are actually kind of a little bit like The Road; nomads and families alike wander aimlessly, pushing their luggage-laden trolleys, a wild look in their eyes…

Fortunately, no one resorted to cannibalism and murder last night.

The check in counter for our flight to Manaus didn’t open until 2.30am, so we had a good few hours of:

  • walking up and down the concourse
  • reading
  • playing Scrabble
  • drinking water
  • attempting to sleep

Good times.

Finally, the check-in counter opened. Bajillions of Brazilians, with ridonkulous amounts of glad-wrapped bags on trolleys, lined up. People in Miami really love glad-wrapping their luggage. Rich and I, cool as cucumbers, followed suit (minus the glad-wrap). A fella in a red jumper called us up, and we handed over our passports.

“Hmm”, he said “I don’t think these Visas are valid.”

“They’re OK”, I explained, “We actually had a similar issue in Costa Rica a few hours ago, and we called the consulate and they confirmed that they’re fine to travel on”. I said this really confidently. Because I was. Super confident.

“I’m sure they’re OK too,” Mr Red Sweater Fella agreed, “I just need to fax these visas to the consulate to confirm that you can get on the flight.”

So Rich and I went back to our funny dog-bone shaped seat and waited. And waited. And waited. Until finally, Mr Red Sweater approached, with a trolley carrying our luggage.

This does not look good.

“Unfortunately, the consulate is saying that you cannot enter Brazil on these visas. I’m very sorry.”

[To fill you in on the boring details: you need a visa to enter Brazil. Der. In June, about a month before we left on le world tour, we applied for our visas through a company in Melbourne who obtain visas for peeps for pretty much every country in the world. The visas we got are pretty stock standard: visitors, multiple entry, valid for 90 days. The problemo the airline has with us is that they are saying our visas are valid for 90 days from the date of issue. Our travel agent and the Brazilian consulate in Australia are saying they are valid for 90 days from the date of entry into Brazil. No one can agree on anything.]

OK. So while Mr Red Sweater was shaking his head and apologising for something clearly out of his hands, I asked what we could do. He suggested we go to the airline office to rebook our flight for the following day, then go to the Brazilian consulate in Miami and explain our situation, and see if they can reissue the visas. Then we’re OK to fly.

Except. Today is a public holiday in America and the embassy is closed.

So if the embassy is closed, we can’t get a new visa and can’t get on the next flight to Manaus in the morning. No flights go to Manaus on the weekend, so we couldn’t leave until Monday. So that’s a bit of a quandary.

We called our travel agent and gave him the latest, hoping he had a magic wand he could wave and make this all a-OK. He suggested we call the peeps who issued us with our visas. Did we have the number? No. But wait! When they returned our passports, they put a sticker on the back cover with their website and phone number. Genius!

But… in the course of our travels, with the many ins and outs of pockets and bags our passports have been through, all the text on the sticker has worn off.

Our travel agent googled them and got their after hours number. Good one.

So then we called and spoke to a lady I’ll call Carol. Carol said “That’s ridiculous!” when we worded her up. She said “They’re wrong!!”. She said “Put a supervisor on the phone. We’re going to SUE THE AIRLINE!!!”

And then… Rich’s phone died. We scrambled through his bag, found a power point on the other side of the terminal concourse, and waited a few minutes while it charged. When it had enough juice to handle another call, we rang Carol and tried to flag down a supervisor.

Except. The supervisor, aware of our situation, decided that the matter had been dealt with (ie. we were not allowed on the plane) and declined to come to a counter to help.

Clutching at straws, we waved down another staff member and said “We REALLY need to speak to the supervisor – our Visa contact in Australia said she’s going to sue the airline.”

That got the supervisor out. We got Carol back on the phone, and what transpired was really a comedy of errors. She appeared to yell at the supervisor (yelling at someone rarely helps anyone, especially when neither Rich nor myself had done any yelling or shown any frustration or aggression at all!), the supervisor had no idea who she was or where she was calling from, and continued to shake her head, say “No no no, the visas are NOT valid” and then hung up.

This was at 5.30am .The flight to Manaus was leaving at 5.50am. We were not getting on this plane.

So. I cried. I was so ashamed of myself. But I couldn’t help it. Having been awake for nearly 24 hours, knowing that we had missed out on a jungle adventure WITH A TAPIR, and just the whole confusion of the matter got me all welled up and mental. So I sat on a chair and did a weird squealy cry and Rich consoled me and then I pulled myself together and was OK again. Not many people saw. It wasn’t too bad.

SO! We decided to call it a night and check in at the airport hotel. We needed access to wifi to get this shizz sorted, we needed a bed to get a few hours of sleep, a shower to, well, shower, and just a bit of a time out.

We carted our luggage up to the hotel and were informed that they were fully booked. And that nearly every hotel in the vicinity of the airport was fully booked. This was confirmed by every single hotel I called on the wall of phones in the information lounge at Miami International Airport.

At this point in the morning, we were delirious. Rich got a wild look in his eyes.

“Let’s just get in a cab and head into the city and get a hotel there.”

The traffic controller at the taxi rank asked where we needed to go, and we said “Take us to wherever there are hotels” and he flagged down a cab and informed the driver to take us downtown. Our cab driver looked like Omar from The Wire, and I’m pretty sure had eaten about a kilogram of speed before we got in the car. The drive downtown was so hair-raising I was sure we were about to be killed.

Omar pulled up outside a HUGE downtown hotel, dropped us off, and sped off in a screech of burning rubber.

Do you know what happened next? Of course you do. The hotel was full. Yup. A 400-room hotel with not one room available.

I nearly collapsed in a heap of jelly-legs and exhaustion. I pictured us hauling our bags to a park by the river, falling asleep, and then waking up inside the jaws of an alligator. And I really wanted a shower. And… well…. modern ways, I really just wanted somewhere with a wifi connection so I could start sorting some of this shizz out.

A parking valet outside the hotel directed us in Espanol to the nearest coffee-shop-that- shall-not-be-named-with-free-wifi and off we went, in a dazed, wobbly stupor. Tummy aching… Eyes drooping… Spirits deflating.

And then… Like an oasis in the desert, a hotel appeared out of nowhere (clearly it didn’t appear out of nowhere, it was there all along, but it totes appeared to us like an apparition!! Twas like seeing the Virgin Mary in your burnt toast). Rich was deflated too, and said “I don’t have a good feeling about this; I’m going to wait outside” and by saying this, THEY HAD A ROOM AVAILABLE!!!! Suddenly it was like Christmas day. I said to Sheona, the lovely lady on reception “You’re a lifesaver!!!” and she smiled at me like I was an idiot. Or on crack.

But I didn’t care. Because we had finally had a ray of light! A room! A bed!! A shower!!! Hallelujah. Praise that burnt toast apparition. Break out the champag-….. zzzzzzzz………

Right now we’re in a state of limbo. We’re in Miami for the next little while. I don’t think we’ll be getting to the Amazon (and more importantly, I won’t be scratching that tapir on the nose-flap….). Trying to figure out what the next step on the Adventures will be… I’m hoping that it will involve a manatee – fingers crossed.

crocodiles, continued

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would ever trudge through a marshy jungle in Costa Rica wearing thongs (that’s Flip Flops to you, Northern Hemisphere). Nor did I ever imagine I would stomp defiantly through knee-high grass, weeds and prickle bushes in only a pair of shorts (again, with aforementioned thongs on my feet). And finally, I never ever expected to find myself pulling my bare feet (thongs had been removed by this point – too hard to walk in) out of ankle-deep mud while batting away bird-sized mosquitos, trying to maintain my balance/keep an eye out for snakes/not walk into a giant cobweb.

The day after we almost eaten by a pack of hungry crocodiles at the beach, Rich and I did the obvious. We went on a crocodile tour and jungle hike.

Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean

Collected from our hotel bright and early on Saturday morning, we were introduced to Big Tortuga (I thought “Wow, this guy really knows his stuff, if his name is Big Tortuga – that means Big Turtle, right?”), which I later discovered was actually Victor Hugo. Not Big Tortuga. But Victor Hugo is still a pretty great name for a bona fide crocodile tour guide!! I imagine in his spare time he writes poems about crocodiles on the streets of Paris in the 1800s, selling their teeth for 10 francs… singing on street corners…. getting hustled into a life of crime and/or prostitution… “Don’t you fret, Monsieur Crocodile….”

Hush, brain!!

We tumbled out of his early 90s aqua Suzuki Vitara (yes, my Grade 5 dream car) on the banks of the estuary, scrambled down a leafy hill, padded across the sand, and climbed aboard his 8-seater covered boat. Twas just me n Rich on the Crocodile & Estuary Tour, so we got prime position at the front of the boat. The narrow boat. The “my elbows are very very close to the crocodile-infested estuary” boat. The “this seems light has a crocodile ever leapt out of the water and tipped it over” boat.

Victor Hugo started up the engine and, as they say in the classics, we were off!

First we putt-putted along the shore for a while, as Victor Hugo pointed out various birds. One quite striking yellow-eyed, grey bird was immediately shunned as “bad bird – very bad bird”. Victor Hugo explained that this “very bad bird” arrives in Tamarindo in late-October and sticks around for a few months, with this sole purpose of eating BABY TURTLES AS THEY HATCH FROM THEIR EGGS!!! I agree with Victor Hugo that these guys were bad birds indeed.

Further along, and after moseying to the other side of the river, we saw it: our first crocodile! Quite a biggun, but apparently still pretty young, Madame Chomp-Chomp was sunning herself on the sandy banks. Victor Hugo brought the boat quite close to the bank, and as I scrambled to get my camera, said Croco opened one pre-historic eyeball and appeared to give me stink eye. Her teeth were very big. I was glad when the boat reversed and we were putt-putting away.

Hola bishes!!

Until… Oh Em Gee!! We found ourselves NOT continuing up the wide and seemingly safe river, but into a thin corridor of mangroves. The trees hung low over the water, their snake-like roots pointing down to the water and scraping along the roof of the boat, like an upside-down Medusa on a bad hair day (“Who forgot to get the conditioner??? Sssssssss!!!!”)….

Victor Hugo explained that we were in the mangroves (not mangos). The wind rustled gently through their leaves, the birds tweeted, and a strange snapping sound surrounded us.

“What’s that noise?” I asked Victor Hugo, obviously thinking that the snapping sound was one hundred crocodiles, hidden amongst the roots of the trees, limbering up their jaws for a good ol-fashioned tourist eating fest.

All the wrongs of all the Steve Irwin Crocodile Hunters the world over will be made right by this delicious feast of Australian flesh, I was sure the crocs were thinking…

But no. The snapping was actually clams, who hang out deep in the mud for a few hours a day, and snap their shell together when they’ve had enough. Apparently clam gathering is a very dangerous pastime for the locals, because to get them, you need to plunge your hands into the mud, feel around for the clam, and avoid getting your finger pinched by their snapping shell-jaws. Victor Hugo explained that many a clam-hunter has lost the top of their fingers in such ventures…

Open....

SNAP!!

Victor Hugo was keen to introduce us to a family of howler monkeys, so we moored the boat in the mangroves and disembarked on the sandy bank. He said “We will hike for five or ten minutes until we find the monkeys”.

45 minutes later, we emerged from the jungle, having seen two monkeys high in the trees. For the entire duration of our monkey hike, Victor Hugo frenetically shook an old Coke bottle (filled with rocks and sand that he had craftily hidden inside the trunk of a dead tree – I imagine there’s a lot of sand-filled, bottle theft in these here parts), and shouted and howled and yelled like a monkey to attract the simian beings. In between howls he gave us helpful tips like “don’t touch this plant or it will sting you with its prickles and it feels like you’re on fire” and “it’s much easier to walk barefoot in the mud” and “I hope you brought some insect repellent because there are a LOT of mosquitos in here” (there were… bajillions, actually).

I had one of those great moments of making an observation, and then being instantly crippled by said observation: in this instance “Hey Rich, look at that funny tree covered in ginormous prickles” and then, literally one second later, stepping on one of the ginormous prickles IN BARE FEET – it got me right in the heel. I cursed like a sailor, but like the intrepid traveller I am, I pulled that prickle right outta my foot and kept on walking. In bare feet. In the mud. With the snapping clams and the boa constrictors (yes, really) and various other terrifying creatures.

Thank heavens for pre-travel tetanus shots…

Anyhoo, after espying our little family of howling monkey friends, we were back in the boat, in search of MORE CROCODILES. Around a corner, literally metres from where our boat had been moored, we spied two toothy beasts, nestled in the grass on the bank. These fellas were bigger than the first lady we saw, and we were ALL reluctant to get any closer…

Around a bend and into a covered grove, we were greeted by a big splash and the sight of a crocodile tail disappearing into the water. I gasped and Victor Hugo said “O, THAT was a big one!” which, of course, meant that he stopped the boat and decided that this would be the perfect spot for a mid-morning snack. In a narrow, shallow estuary with a monster crocodile under the boat. Victor Hugo sliced up a pineapple (which I stupidly thought was for the crocodile and was about to throw overboard) and we ate the sweet fruit with muddy fingers and fear-filled bellehs.

To make matters even more comforting, Victor Hugo thought this would be a great spot to rinse off his muddy feet, so sat with his legs dangling in the water above Mister Sharp-Tooth’s very sharp teeth (and, no doubt, watching beady eyes…) as we motored the boat back to the beach.

Post-pineapple escape

So in all, we saw five crocodiles. Along with the three bigguns, we also spotted two babies in the mangroves (mums not in sight – very reassuring) and we both felt that it was money well spent and an interesting lesson in biodiversity and prehistoric monster-toothed beasties.

Back in the clear blue salt water of our starting place, other tour boats bobbing around, and a bunch of fellas doing some washing in the shallows, I saw something strange floating in the water. It’s unusual to see brown, spiky buoys – all the other ones are bright blue and bright red and smooth. And… wait… is it a log? Or a cluster of coconut husks floating on the surface?

No. It’s a mother-flipping crocodile. Just bobbing along. Smiling at us as we pass within inches of its scaly, spiky, avocado-skinned body….

“Very good luck, very good luck” Victor Hugo said, pointing to the croc.

Very good luck not to get eaten by him, I say.

a walk in the clouds

Monteverde, home of the Cloud Forest, is unsurprisingly pretty full to the brim with beautiful parks, forests, jungles and with that, a ton of extremo adventure opportunities. There is actually a tour company in town called ‘Extremo Adventures’. For serious.

Rich, his appetite whet for some extremo adrenalin, decided to go zip-lining through the jungle. You know what that is, don’t you? It’s where you climb up a tower, wear an incredibly attractive underpant-like harness that emphasises your nether-regions (and not in a good way), get clipped onto a cord, and zip through the trees on a cable at ridonkulously high speeds.

Now, since being away, I have been trying to face my fears and say yes to more opportunities that are presented to me. Unfortunately, no amount of cajoling was going to get me to say yes to a zip-line adventure with Rich.

“But I’ll come with you to the park, and afterwards we can go for a nice walk through the trees on the canopy bridge”, I said. What a wimpburger….

While brave Rich went off up the mountain on the sky tram for 45 minutes of extremo cable zipping, I sat on a cloud-enshrouded balcony with a coffee and my book. Extremo relaxo…

After a couple of chapters, the chico from reception came up and said “Your husband, in about 20 minutes, he’s gonna come down on that cable there” and pointed to the closest cable to the balcony. Which was about 50 metres off the ground in the cloud-filled air. And which made my heart skip a beat and loudly declare “Holy bajoly, I am SO scared of heights I am SO GLAD I am here and not there!!!!” rather embarrassingly. He laughed a bit and said “Well, he’s gonna fly by here in about 20 minutes”.

Sure enough, 20 minutes later, there came Rich out of the clouds, zipping along, holding on for dear life. I screamed a little bit. On the inside.

Moments later, in came Rich, covered in grease and rain and bits of cloud. He headed straight to the bar and ordered a beer and a packet of chips, and sat in silence on the balcony, slowly coming down from his ultra-adrenalin rush, while I tugged at his arm and asked annoying questions like ‘How was it? Are you OK? I saw you on that one (pointing). How was the adrenalin factor? OMG are you OK?’. After several minutes he looked at me, grease on forehead, and said “You would have hated it” and continued to calmly sip his beer.

I felt better. I had felt like a sissy – saying no to a new adventure – but I knew that I would have had a majeur de freakout and apparently, once you’ve gone down the first line the only way to get back to base is to do ALL ten lines. Yeeks!!

After the beer had been imbibed and the chips munched, we were ready for our guided bridge walk. A relaxing stroll through the jungle on a series of suspended walkways in the treetops. What a nice way to end the afternoon.

NOT! Holy crap!! It wasn’t until we were on the second bridge (the longest bridge – around 300 metres – but not the highest. This one was probably around 40 metres off the ground…), with the rain a-falling and the bridge a-swaying and the guide a-talking, about ecosystems and parasites and ferns and how tall the trees are, that I suddenly gasped and Rich put his hands on my shoulders and I said “Oh dear” (no really) and Tony, our guide, asked if I was OK and, as I told the dude earlier, declared “I’m actually really scared of heights” while clutching madly to the slippery rails on either side of me.

It was incredibly beautiful standing on the swaying bridge – don’t get me wrong – but when we were out there, all I could think of was slipping over on the walkway and somehow rolling through the gap between the platform and the railing. Seemingly impossible, but when we were out there, I felt quite sure that I would be the first person to accomplish this feat.

Fortunately, as Rich and I were the only people on the tour, and as our guide was a sympathetic fellow, we spent minimal time on the bridges and maximum time on solid ground in the jungle and I was feeling much less sissy-pants in no time. Every so often we’d stop on a bridge and Tony would point out a bird and do some nifty whistling and I would say ‘Ahh si, un bird’ while hanging onto the railing, white-knuckled.

In between showing us ferns and orchids and bazillion-year-old trees, Tony talked to us about soccer (namely Carlos Hernandez, a Costa Rican midfielder who now plays for Melbourne Victory) and about all the guides in CR who have met North American ladies on their tours, and have subsequently married them and moved to Canada or the States.

Unfortunately it was a bit too rainy for any sloths or monkeys to make themselves known, but in between all the treetop terror, we saw some amazing sights and, well, there’s something pretty special about being in the clouds above the trees. And the glass of fruit punch and ‘SKY’ biscuit when we returned, wobbly-legged, to base was pretty flippin’ delicious…