Here there be dragons...

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Ziplines and Horses and Waterfalls - oh my!‏

Just got back from today's excursion and it was AMAZING!!!!   OMG so much fun!

We booked this one before we left -- there were a few things Chris and I wanted included all in one tour, and while the resort ones came close, they all missed one piece or another.  So our travel goddess did her thing and volia -- private tour for our group that included all the pieces.  Amazing.

Early start -- breakfast at 7.  Booo.  Esp not fun as I wasn't feeling well last night -- I suspect dehydrated.  Ugh.  But it meant I was up before wake-up call anyways.  We had quite the list of items to bring and the bus showed up on time.  Two busses, mercifully smaller than the one from the airport and with big windows so my hopes of making it without getting motion sick went up exponentially.  That was also improved with the random drugs Jen gave me ;)   There were more than 30 of us on the trip -- awesome turnout.  We filled both buses.

The drive was good.  It's a gorgeous country.  Our guide had a think enough accent that I had to pay attention, but he had interesting stuff to share.  Less good about preparing us for what to bring on each phase of the trip, but nbd ;)

The first stop was ziplining.  Debbie and Em opted out of this portion, but the rest were in.  We hiked to the first platform.  Saw a toucan on the way -- the guides were really good about looking for critters and pointing out what they saw.  The trail was a well marked and had mesh over anything that might be slippery.  Really nice walk. 

At the first platform we got instructions and gear and were good to go.  The guide took Chris' and my cameras -- between them, I'm pretty sure they got at least one photo of everybody, which was amazing!   The first line was short and had a very gentle slope -- a really great start.  Immediately upon landing, you were hooked onto the second line -- equally easy -- for another run.  So much fun!  At the end of that one we waited for everybody before climbing another short trail and a flight of stairs to the start of the main run.

Following was a series of varying lengths and speeds.  So much fun.  One let two people go together -- I was slightly disappointed of the pic of C and I though as we were as far apart from one another as you could get.  Sheesh.  Far too independent ;-P   The last one was the longest and so much fun.  Only thing I was disappointed at was that when I let go and spread my arms out, I slowed down.  Booo.  So had to do the trip curled up in a tight ball to get some speed!

The final run

After ziplining we were all given a bottle of water.  Some of the guys were joking with the guards in an effort to get cerveza instead.  No, don't have any.  As we pulled out, the guides saluted with their beers :)   hahhaha well I found it amusing anyways.   A short drive took us past stunning volcanic views to lunch.  This was absolutely my favourite meal of the trip.  Whatever they did to my chicken made it super tasty :)   C's a food snob, and he definitely liked other stuff better, but for me, this was awesome.  So good.

All kinds of full, it was time for more activity.  Blah.  Where was the siesta part of the day???   We were split into two groups here, based on which bus we were in.  The other group got on a wagon and was pulled by a tractor off for their hike, while we loaded up on the bus again for a short drive to where the horses were.

I was pleasantly surprised at the healthy condition of the horses.  And really impressed that almost everybody, even those we know have a reasonably seriously caution around horses, gave it a go.  There were several I wasn't expecting to ride, but all of my family and most of Chris' did.  Chris' dad even rode twice, catching a second ride with the return group later :)

Go Dad!
Robin seemed to take to the whole riding idea :)
So I was goofing around taking pictures of all the people I never expected to see on horseback, when I realized Adriana and Chris were at the front of the line and about to book it.  Given the swat the guides gave their horses as they passed, clearly they were doing so with at least a degree of permission.  So Jen and I quickly took off after them :)  I looked back to make sure none of the other ponies were reacting to this and it was all good, so off we went!   Adriana lost her hat, which Jen quickly hopped off to retrieve, and then it was game on, galloping up the face of the volcano.  OMG So. Much. Fun.  My little pony didn't have a ton of speed, but all the heart.  Jen's was much faster, but ran out of steam half way, so she had to walk the rest.  Chris and Adriana had a good head start on us, and while my horse tried valiantly, there was no way we were closing that gap.  It was an awful lot of fun though.  AND - my horse was gaited!  How awesome is that?!?  Had at least two super-smooth gaits I've never ridden before.  The running walk, which I've now decided all horses should do *g*  And something between a trot and a canter that I couldn't figure out exactly what was going on.  His trot, however, was absolutely atrocious.  Ugh, the worst!  But hey, when you have the other options, who needs to trot?

We stopped at the top of the mountain -- the tractor was there and the path split so it seemed a logical choice.  The horses parked themselves in what's obviously their usual stopping place.  One of the guides caught up a few seconds later with a huge grin on his face -- I'm guessing they don't get to do that trail at a mad gallop very often ;)   We hung out for a bit and took pics till the others arrived.

After our mad dash up the volcano
From the horses, we went through a little gap in the trees and followed a trail to some waterfalls.  Very stunning.  The trail traversed a reasonably impressive suspension bridge -- amazing view!  Took some pics and hung out by the waterfall for a bit before we went back down.  I was surprised the other group hadn't left on the horses yet -- apparently there was another trail.   We were warned it had a larger suspension bridge, so a couple people opted out of that one and chose to hang out by the tractor instead.  Chris, Adriana, Jen and I were all right at the front of the line, so I wasn't entirely aware of who was doing what at that point.  This bridge was, as advertised, significantly more impressive with even more incredible views.  Unfortunately it was also windy -- I wasn't comfortable enough to let go and take pictures!  So that view lives only in my memory.  All the more reason for you to go visit yourself ;)

This trail lead us to the type of waterfall you only see in travel brochures.  Splashing into a calm swimming hole, surrounded by rocks.  Absolutely stunning.

The platform the trail lead to was part way down the waterfall.  AND from this one, we could jump in!  I have no idea how high we were.  Someone said 20', but of course that promptly got argued both up and down by various parties.  High enough ;)   So Chris did it, of course.  And Adriana was waivering, so I convinced her to as well.  And in doing so, realized all the arguments I used for her applied to me too ;)  So in front of my entire family I stripped to my underwear and leapt off a cliff *g*   Of our group the only other person to join the game was Jen -- she actually went right ahead of me, when I told her to either jump or get out of the way.  Bahahah I know from past experience when I'm about to do something stupid I have about 30 seconds to actually do it before the rational part of my brain kicks in and stops it.  You know, the part that says I don't swim very well and Chris (who'd climbed back up by then) had just mentioned the reasonably strong current.  Hahahha ah well, I swam well enough and Jen waited at the bottom to make sure I made it.  Neither of us had any faith in the rather dodgy safety tire the guide had up on his platform ;-P   What a rush!  It was amazing! 

Chris' flying leap
Mum's comment took it though: "should I tell you you're jumping off another cliff on Monday?"  bahaha - yeah well, as long as Chris and I do it together, it's all good.

We took the tractor wagon back down the mountain (I was glad we got wet *after* riding!  Also glad we rode up the mountain -- down was apparently a sedate walk).  And it was off for a short walk around the volcano crater and the bubbling mud.

Crater Walk
After the hike it was a combination of sauna, mud bath, shower in the explicit showers, and then relax in the hot tub.  I'm not sure any of that but the hot tub really appealed to me, but I was there, may as well play.  There were also critters around -- Costa Rica's version of the racoon and a very self-important peacock.  Joe found a hammock -- when I heard about that later I was slightly jealous ;)   But all in all a great wrap up to the day.

AND, on the way home, we even got to see a monkey!  Finally!

A long drive home, but what an amazing day!


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