(Continued from Part 1)
By Zachary Moses
Today we departed from our tranquil lodge in Tortuguero and started our journey toward Sarapiqui. We retraced our path through the winding streams of the delta, then followed the river back to the restaurant where our bus was waiting for us.
During the boat ride I soon realized that I had not followed my own advice of visiting a bathroom just before our long ride, and I had to pee so bad, I felt like I was going to burst. I foolishly mentioned this to my seat mate and news of my discomfort spread like wildfire; everyone seemed to enjoy gabbing about the worst possible things for someone in my condition to hear. They spoke of airport toilets, cascading waterfalls, swimming pools, etc … Today was going to be one long ride for me. But when we got back to the bus, I had Frank (our driver) stop at a market so we could fill a cooler with beer. I became the savior of the day, and all mockery went away. This made the rest of the day go by just swimmingly.
Soon, we arrived at our eco-lodge in Sarapiqui. Everyone was shocked at just how luxurious an eco-lodge can be. We had the afternoon free, so we all made a bee-line for the swimming pool. The swimming pool had an amazing infinity edge, which appeared to drop off into the jungle ravine. We stayed in the pool for what seemed like hours. Even though the unheated pool water was a bit chilly, it was nicely offset by the 85 degree February air temperature!
The next day was our ultimate adventure: after a huge Costa Rican breakfast, we split for Hacienda Pozo Azul, where we geared up for our zip lining. We donned helmets, leather gloves, and an adventurous spirit. Everyone climbed into a huge trailer pulled by a tractor and we were hauled up the mountainside to where our course began.
At first I stood to the side, taking photos and video of everyone zipping off through the canopy. My turn came, and it was an exhilarating experience. We flew through the trees, hundreds of feet off the ground. Between each run, we landed on platforms 60 or 70 feet up in the trees. Coming in for a landing was the most fun because we controlled our own speed with a large braking glove. (I of course always came in blindingly fast.) After landing on the platform, we would hop onto the next cable line through a convoluted process of clipping in and out of several safety connections.
Some of the zip line runs are faster than others. While we literally “zip” down some of the steeper runs, it’s amusing to watch guys try to figure out how to gain momentum on some of the slower runs. In the orientation session, we were told how to turn around and gain momentum by using hand over hand movements but alas, we forgot our “training” in the time of crisis! When someone got totally stranded hanging out over the middle of a run, the guide would zip out to him, wrap his legs around him (maybe this was not so bad?) and pull him hand-over-hand back to the platform.
As we ziplined down the mountain, we also took scenic hikes up through the jungle to regain altitude for additional runs. A highlight was the extra long zip line run over the river, at least a hundred feet up in the air. The line had a nice steep slope to it, which got us going super fast … practically like a sonic boom-producing flight … (well, maybe not that fast).
After zip-lining, we went directly to whitewater rafting. We used oar boats, with six passengers paddling and one river guide steering like crazy. When we launched into the Sarapiqui River, which features an obstacle course of boulders and pointy objects, it was so much fun! We got hung up on rocks and spun around backward several times. One of our groups even flipped their boat over. (This is why we require life jackets!). Everyone made it through the rapids safely, but my fingers and toes were tingling with adrenaline. It was so wild!
We stopped halfway along the river course and climbed up the cliff-side. The river guides sliced up several big ripe Costa Rican pineapples. While we were eating, the guides said it was OK to do some cliff jumping into the river. I did a cannon ball and landed on my feet at the bottom of the river. Jeff, who is maybe 12 inches taller than me did the same thing … but he smacked his butt right into the river floor, so I don’t recommend this for our taller rafters!
After rafting, we went back to Pozo Azul and had a fabulous lunch on the restaurant’s veranda, overlooking the river. Everyone was so hungry from all the exercise. The food tasted soooo good, but I’ll be honest. We were all so hungry that they could have given us a bowl full of tiny cold sausages and we still would have thought it was delicious. *shudder*
We had the afternoon free, and most of us took a nap. Then in the evening after dinner, I went outside behind the restaurant to call home, and they locked me out and turned out the lights. It forced me to do some jungle-crawling in the pitch-black darkness to get back to my hotel room. There I found a fruit bat flapping around. It was way more scared of me than I was of it. At one point it tried to get away from me and smacked right into the ceiling so hard that it knocked itself out. I scooped it up and put it outside before it awoke.
This trip just kept getting better and better! […Continue to Part 3]