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Grrr... go away!


Lietuviskas aprasymas zemiau

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Day 65: In the Clouds

April 13, 2006

We made it!! At 7AM we are wide-awake (well, not really, but up and to some extent functioning! :)) sipping hot coffee and freezing our butts off in the cold hotel lobby while waiting for the tour guide. There are two German guys going on the same tour, and we all start getting slightly worried when by the end of the third cup of coffee our guide has not yet showed up. Wild animals can only be seen very early in the morning while feeding. As soon as they have eaten, they hide to rest, and you stand very little chance to see any wildlife. Apparently our guide has been feeding during the night and is resting right now! (and why on earth did we get up at 6:30?!!)
Half an hour past 8, a phone calls comes in, and we finally get a message that our tour guide has changed his mind and is not coming! It is the Holy Thursday of Semana Santa (the Holy Week before Easter, typically a week-off in all Central America), and he has remembered that he shouldn't work :)) At this late hour there is not much we can do except for going to the cloud forest reserve on our own. Very well! Let's take a walk in the clouds and see what we can see!

Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve has clearly marked trails, so you can easily hike on your own (takes about 4 hours to hike the entire loop). The hike is easy, the views are very pretty, and, judging from the plethora of sounds, wildlife is abundant. Yet, the chances to see any animals without a knowledgeable guide are very slim. After a 4-hour walk, our independent "catch of the day" consisted of 2 howler monkeys which were so noisy (click here to listen, 2.6Mb) that it was impossible to not see them, and one extremely bright-colored bird which flashed by so quickly we only had time to think it might have been a resplendent quetzal (reportedly, there are a lot of those beautiful tropical birds in Monteverde, where they dwell together with another 30 species which we didn't see :))

By all means, a walk through the lush, dripping woods featuring an orchestra of invisible birds was an amazing experience in itself. Past the dense cloud forest, there is a clearly marked point through which the Canada-to-Argentina continental divide passes. On clear days it is possible to see both the Atlantic and the Pacific sides, but we happened to be hiking on a rather cloudy day :)
Outside the reserve, next to the entrance, there is a hummingbird gallery where you can observe quite many different kinds of them feeding from plastic "flowers". The nicest thing about this eatery/ gallery is that the beautiful birds are quite fearless: you can come up to the flowers very close and observe the hummingbirds for as long as you fancy, there are lots of them buzzing around at all times!

After a pleasant lunch break in Santa Elena (lots of cozy cafés and restaurants in this little mountain village, and most of them were open during the Semana Santa), we jump back into the car and give the Costa Rican roads one more chance. No way! The road around Laguna de Arenal to La Fortuna is gets the Bad+ grade (slightly better that really bad, but still a car-killer). Yet again, the destination is worth it: the really active Volcan Arenal, which keeps spitting lava and incandescent rocks daily since 1968 (as opposed to the semi-active smoking pots we've seen so far). The red-hot stuff is best seen during the night hours, and the impression of seeing a "working" volcano for the first time is unforgettable. What a country this Costa Rica is! - for what the nature has to offer one can even consider forgiving the lines at the border and the horrible roads!

Tip #1 According to some people we talked to in Santa Elena, much more wildlife can be seen in the nearby cloud forests than in the most popular and hence most crowded Monteverde. You need to hire a guide for about USD 18 per person, but it's worth it -otherwise you stand a high chance to end your individual tour having seen 2 monkeys and 1 bird, just like us :)) In addition to being knowledgeable about the local species, the guides normally have powerful binoculars and know where to look for the hiding animals. This tip is applicable assuming the guide you have booked shows up as agreed! :)

Tip #2 For those who will travel in Central America just before Easter, you will most likely hear lots of warnings about the upcoming Semana Santa, like "everything shuts down during the week before Easter, including gas stations and supermarkets, so stock up on everything you can, including water", or "make all the reservations for Semana Santa much in advance because everything gets fully booked during this week". At least in Costa Rica this is only partially true. Many institutions do shut down for the entire week, and most bigger towns turn into ghost towns because the people go the beaches, but we had no problem finding a working gas station, grocery store or a place to sleep throughout the whole Holy Week.

Local Quirks: During the Semana Santa, the distribution of alcohol is strictly prohibited. Restaurants and bars are not allowed to sell any kind of booze, and you will for sure notice huge padlocks on all the beer fridges in the supermarkets and liquor stores (some of them even have heavy metal chains!). However, some hotel bars seem to be exempt from the rule - there was no lack of beer in the Hotel Dorothy, in which we stayed on the Holy Thursday, and the half tourist- half tico crow seemed to party like there was no tomorrow! (Costa Ricans like to be called "ticos").

Click on the pictures to enlarge

The Verdant Monteverde

Monteverde trail

Zaliasis Zaliakalnis

Cool-looking plant of Costa Rica

Most likely a fern

Monteverde paparcius galima iziureti ir be gido


There is such a thing as free lunch! (if you do not mind being snapped :) )

Hummingbird gallery

Kolibriu valgykla

Try to eat your meal while flapping your arms 10 times per second!

Hummingbirds in Monteverde

Pabandykite valgyti greitai mosuodami rankomis!

How about a lunch to fly?

Hummingbird feeder

Greitas maistas?

Someone has got a sweet beak!

Hummingbirds in Monteverde

Dar vienas saldziasnapis

I'm so full...

Hummingbirds in Monteverde

Sotus kolibris

Click on the picture to view the video clip (3.8Mb)

Hummingbird video

Jei norite paziureti video klipa, spauskite ant paveiksliuko (3.8Mb)


Volcano Arenal, Costa Rica

Isjungtas ugnikalnis


Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica

Ijungtas ugnikalnis

Close up

Volcano Arenal erupting

Is arti

Nuvesk pelyte virs paveiksliuko, spustelk jos kaire ausele, ir paveiksliukas padides

65-oji diena: Pasivaiksciojimas debesyse

2006 m. balandzio 13

Is ryto - salta!! Monteverde draustinis - centrinese Costa Ricos aukstumose, todel oro temperatura gerokai skiriasi nuo Ramiojo vandenyno ir Karibu juros pakranciu, kur kiekviena diena - stabilus 35 laipsniai silumos. Skausmingai lendam is siltu patalu dar pilnai neisausus - 7 val. ryto jau turim buti pasiruose kartu su dar keliais turistais ir vadovu eiti I Monteverde draustini (galima eiti ir be vadovo, bet tada, atseit, nepastebetumem daugumos pauksciu ir gyvunu, iziurimu tik patyrusia vietinio akimi). Taigi, 7 valanda mes ir dar pora vokieciu jau sedim saltam viesbucio prieangy ir ziovaudami laukiam gido, kuris, atrodo, pas mus neskuba. 8 valanda vis sedim ir laukiam. Uz dar gero pusvalandzio pagaliau gaunam zinia, kad gidas neateis, nes apsigalvojo! - prisimine, kad dabar yra Semana Santa (sventoji savaite pries sv. Velykas, kurios metu dauguma Centrines Amerikos istaigu uzsidaro, o darbuotojai gauna savaite atostogu) ir jis turetu atostogauti, taigi, taip ir nutare padaryti :) Dar gerai, kad nors teikesi perduoti zinia, o tai butumem galeje sedeti ir laukti jo iki Velyku! Akivaizdu, kad mus ispeje zmones nejuokavo - per Semana Santa gyvenimas visoje Centrineje Amerikoje savaitei sustoja.

Nutariam nebegaisti daugiau laiko ir keliaujame i draustini vieni - paziuresim, ka sugebesim pamatyti be vadovo pagalbos! Jau ir taip per lengvabudi gida praradom pati geriausia laika - gyvunu ir pauksciu stebeti reikia eiti labai anksti, vos prasvitus, nes tuo metu dauguma ju islenda is sleptuviu pusryciauti.
Po Monteverde draustini pravaiksciojom visa pusdieni, ir isitikinom, kad eiti stebeti gyvunu tikrai geriau su gidu. Visu pirma, gidai turi galingus ziuronus, o visu antra - zino, kur ziureti. Mes gi per 4 valandas sugebejome pamatyti dvi bezdziones-staugunus, kurios sedejo skirtinguose medziuose ir kazka labai garsiai viena kitai stauge, ir net viena labai spalvota pauksti - manome, jog tai galejo buti prasmatnusis (?) ketsalis ("resplendent quetzal", del vertimo reiktu pasitikslinti su gamtininkais), nes ju siame draustinyje, atseit, yra daug. Zinantieji musu patirti ornitologijos srityje del paukscio tapatybes turbut suabejos, ir, ko gero, bus teisus :) Bet tai tikrai nebuvo nei zvirblis, nei balandis, ir net gi ne genys!!
Daugiau gyvunu nemateme (nors, sprendziant is daugiabalsio pauksciu choro, ju buvo pilnas miskas - tikrai gerai pasislepusiu!), bet smagiai pasivaiksciojom po debesyse paskendusi miska - dalis Monteverde draustinio yra debesu lygyje. Tokiame aukstyje - daug dregmes, todel miskas labai zalias ir veslus. Zygiavome sodriai zaliais tuneliais tiesiai per debesis, o aplink mus ciurleno sraunus kalnu upeliukai bei garsiai triuksmavo ketsaliai ir bezdziones.... Ta ryta atleidome net mus laukimu kankinusiems pasienieciams - tokia salis - tokia gamta vis tik yra verta pusdienio kanciu pasienyje. Pradedam suprasti, kodel kostarikieciai vietoj "labas rytas" sako "pura vida!", ka apytiksliai verstumem i "labas, gyvenimas yra grazus!".

Salia iejimo i draustini yra dar viena atrakcija - kolibriu galerija/ "valgykla". Simtai skirtingu rusiu kolibriu suskride geria nektara is po medziais pakabintu "geliu", ir nei kiek nesibaido zmoniu - galima prieiti labai arti ir geretis siais nuostabiais miniatiurinais pauksciukais kiek tik sirdis geidzia.

Po pasivaiksciojimo po Monteverde (per 4-5 val. imanoma neblogai apziureti visa draustini) truputi patinginiaujame Santa Elenoje, kuris pasirodo besas labai mielas kalnu miestelis, pilnas jaukiu kavinukiu, linksmu turistu ir draugisku tiku ("ticos" ir "ticas" - taip save vadina kostarikieciai). Kaip smagu bebutu sildytis sauluteje ant jaukios kavinukes stogo, po pietu issijudinam tolyn - link veikiancio Arenal ugnikalnio (Volcan Arenal). La Fortuna - miestelis, isikures ugnikalnio papedeje - yra visai netoli Monteverde, taciau tiesaus kelio, jungiancio draustini su La Fortuna, nera, tad tenka apvaziuoti didele laguna (Laguna de Arenal) tais paciais "nuostabiais" keliais, kuriais vakar atvaziavome.
La Fortuna privaziuojame paciu laiku - jau sutemus, kada geriausiai matosi lava spjaudantis ugnikalnis. Tai buvo pirmasis musu sutiktas "gyvas" ugnikalnis. Visi kiti, atseit veikiantys, geriausiu atveju tik garuodavo kaip milziniski puodai, o Arenalio sonais tekejo tikru tikriausia deganti lava! Ta vakara galutinai atleidome pasienieciams uz 4 valandu eile - viskas, ka kada nors girdejome apie nuostabiaja Costa Ricos gamta, tikrai yra tiesa :)

Keistenybes, 1-oji. Kostarikieciai, auginantys skania, gera, visame pasaulyje populiaria kava, patys geria tirpiaja sintetine Nescafe!! Reikia ilgai ieskoti kavines ar restorano, kuriame galetum gauti skanios kostarikietiskos kavos. Zemai lenkiames Nescafe marketingo komandai, sugebejusiai sitaip praplauti smegenis masei zmoniu :)

Keistenybes, 2-oji. Per Semana Santa (savaite pries Velykas) Costa Ricos istatymai draudzia pardavineti alkoholinius gerimus. Nuo pirmadienio iki sekmadienio visuose parduotuvese ir supermarketuose ant alaus saldytuvu pakabinamos dramatisko dydzio spynos. Restoranai taip pat alkoholiniu gerimu neparduoda. Taciau viesbuciu baruose sventosios savaites metu alus liejasi laisviau negu per didziausias sventes! Dziugu, kad spragu istatymuose turime ne tik gimtinej :))

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