Day 1: The Smooth Entry

The Rainforest Was Not Misnamed

Cloud Forest

Pictured: The Cloud Forest, a wondeful synthesis of biology and atmospheric conditions. Not Pictured: The pant-soaking imminent rainstorm.

The Beta Band – Dry The Rain: I recommend you play this while reading this post for the ¡Pura Vida Experience!

Right now, I’m sitting on my semi-circular portable pillow hoping no one thinks I have haemorrhoids. We went for a horse ride this morning for a few hours. My Albino farm horse, Milky, was the biggest of the lot and a fiery beast by all accounts, his nostrils flaring constantly, panting like a chain smoker furiously determined to ignore the latter stages of emphysema. After a few fantastically enjoyable gallops, my urge to ride out like a knight in a full cavalry charge grew exponentially – so did Milky’s. Maybe he’s a natural war horse who’s pissed off at being forced to work the farms in peace times. I know the feeling. Milky required almost constant pulling on the reigns to stop him from shooting off up the road, his determination to speed up seemingly insatiable. Eventually, I reasserted my species’ natural power over the lesser creatures and spent the majority of the time at an uncomfortably bumpy canter through beautiful hills, up winding paths in the cloud forest and on rocky mountain paths – an ass-destroying experience that was simply too enjoyable to begrudge Milky for any length of time. That is why it looks like I have haemorrhoids.


Somewhat better than the view back home.

As easy introductions to Costa Rican touring goes… that was probably not the easiest one. Still jetlagged, I awoke at six in the morning to a most beautiful low light over the volcano and valley below our accommodation. To bide my time before breakfast, I watched the toucans flitter innocently between trees and marvelled at the Ant Highway that had been carved in the ground between the nest and several trees. Their supply line was most riveting to watch. I’ve always respected ants resourcefulness and tenacity – even if they are practically a bunch of communists. One thing tools like Google Earth cannot illustrate is just how much life exists in  1m², 1cm² and smaller realms. Such miniscule complexity can easily be missed by us humans and I’m happy my day’s observations started small and grew progressively and impressively as time ticked by.

After my wonderful experience with Milky and the very pleasant and enjoyable banter between myself and the group (more on them later), we made our towards the Park Nacional Volcan Tenorio – so named because there is a sweet triple-headed active volcano up in the clouds. This was a three hour trek through the wettest Rainforest one could imagine. It was really, really, really goddamn wet. My stolen poncho (all my stuff was borrowed because my bags are still in Atlanta) performed adequately until the rain became so intense, it merely served as a waterproof cover for my rucksack. My jeans, wholly unsuitable for such a trek but the only item available to me, soon became a gravity-assisted medium for filling my wellies with water and sweat. By the end of the day they had ceased to be Wellingtons, but had successfully evolved into Smellingtons.


The great thing about this picture is that the waterfall is merely a representation of the amount of water that fell on our heads every minute.

The trek was fantastic. I was worried about my general well-being and how that would affect my fitness, but it wasn’t a problem. We walked at a comfortable pace up through the forest with incredible, but cloudy, views, delightful sulphur smells and a turquoise river that got its beauty through natural chemical pollution from the volcano underneath. Luckily, on account of my oft-broken nose, my sense of smell wasn’t overwhelmed, but the sulphur was pungent nonetheless. The waterfall was a thing of beauty; the forest itself a marvel of nature. We had a bumpy minibus trip back (with Costa Rican radio looping some cheesy 70’s pap) through the valleys as rain-caused torrents swept past with intent. We were all fantastically wet and not getting any drier. The road itself was very different than when we rode up on our horses earlier: floods were rampant, streams had sprung from somewhere and waterfalls existed where waterfalls had not existed before. Apparently, it was the tail-end of a typhoon causing the extreme weather, but hey, it still beats the Irish winter, right?

Nachos and spicy soup for dinner. The coffee here really is amazing. More borrowed clothes. I may get my bag tomorrow sometime if I’m really lucky.It’s been 24 hours so I may get some financial reparations. Fingers crossed.

Up Next:

We move to San Ramón, a three hour bus ride south from where we are now, with intent to begin building on Monday.

Bijagua Map

San Ramón Map

(note how the Bijagua satellite feed is completely cloud covered? Yeah, it’s kind of like that most of the time, it being the Cloud Forest ‘n all.)

To Summarise for the TL;DR Crowd:

My rear is very bruised from the horse ride and planes and everything. We are staying in a beautiful lodge above the Cloud Forest. I trekked through the rainiest Rainforest. My bags are in Atlanta. My luck seems to have changed or the gypsy that cursed me has been satisfied.

Loved every minute of it.



Filed under Dearest Diary of Mine

3 responses to “Day 1: The Smooth Entry

  1. Mum & Dad

    Brilliant, brilliant! Lovely to see the photo of you – looks pretty wet all right, but makes it real – you are really there at last. Dad says he will be listening to the Beta Band with a glass of wine shortly…
    Hope the bag comes soon. Enjoy! xxxx

  2. Paul C

    Takes me back to the time a was horse-riding around the Drakensberg (Dragon’s back) mountains in South Africa, which were Tolkien’s inspiration for the misty mountains. My stallion’s name was Roundas.

    I would also like to say I envy you very much, but being in Toulouse beats another year at home. Although it’s as wet as Galway (and almost as much as Costa Rica it seems) at the moment.

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