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Day Five - Cloud Forest, Zip Lines, and a Shiva Serenade

Thriving Jungle
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More Howler Monkeys
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I began the day with a visit to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve with a wildlife guide named Estephen. Part of my group included the people from North Carolina. It seems they followed me from Arenal. Hmmmm.

The first part of the tour was a walk through a reforestation project. Just 38 years ago it was open grassland used for grazing cattle. It was sectioned off and left alone for nature to take its course. Through birds and animals spreading seeds and the constant rain and humidity, plus a lack of any cold season, today it stands as a thick and thriving jungle forest. It's simply amazing to look at the dense vegetation and large trees and realize it's less than 40 years old. We moved on to the original forest area and the trees were much larger, some as wide and six to eight feet or so.

We saw a large variety of birds, including the famed quetzal, which is supposed to be very rare. I was wondering if this may be a bit of a myth as we saw 12 of them during this one day. There were many more monkeys and lizards and squirrels and insects and the like, as well as lots of lush plant life, and it lasted about three hours. Estephen was very knowledgeable and, at times, amusing.

Canopy Line
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Canopy From Below
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With an afternoon free, I decided to do something I thought I probably shouldn't -- a canopy tour. You see, I'm very much afraid of heights. I even get a little nervous crossing large bridges. But how many opportunities do you get in your life to try something like this?

You climb up trails, steps and ladders until you reach a podium high up in the trees. With your harness clipped onto the line, they lift you up and then let you go and you zip down the line with an incredible aerial view of the forest. We did this 14 times, some longer or faster than others, and at times coming very close to trees and branches, which added to the experience. It was really fantastic. I'm glad I decided to give in and try it.

After dinner I returned once more to the cloud forest, but this time for a nighttime view. Estephen was once again the guide as we walked through the forest in total darkness except for our flashlights. We saw some tiny frogs -- about the size of a dime -- and many lizards, a tarantula and other various spiders, an owl, and I even got to pick up a poisonous snake by the tail. It was somewhat small and Estephen said the bite wouldn't kill me, so I went for it. At the end of the walk, we stopped by the hummingbird feeders and turned off our flashlights. Almost instantly bats were flying all around us, often brushing the edge of the wings (technically hands) against me as they changed direction. It was a bit startling at first, but soon became very cool as I could see and feel them all around me, using eco-location to avoid actually hitting us or the walls. The moment we flicked on the flashlights again, they vanished just as quickly as they arrived.

Back at Moon Shiva, they had musical duo playing called "Amigos Intimos" and they were remarkable. They played all original music with a great deal of passion and would spend a good amount of time talking about each song before they played it. Most of that was lost on me, but a bartender who was from San Diego helped translate a little. I was very much impressed and think with some decent promotion, they could very likely go far.

Day Six

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