Costa Rica: Recap of Arenal (April 23, 2014)

Today we woke up bright and early once more to go water repelling. Yes, that means repelling down rocky waterfalls in the rainforest of Costa Rica. Seems awesome, right? Well it was! I was actually a bit nervous going into this activity because I had repelled down a waterfall at my sleep away camp yet it left me in tears and with shaking hands because I dreaded the majority of the repel as I slipped from the rocks and feared my descent into death; well that’s a bit of an overreaction but I wasn’t exactly comfortable during the activity and it was a bit difficult, so I was scared it would be even more difficult here. Turns out it was ten times easier. As I pushed my feet and sprung from the top I swiftly descended and the rope easily slipped through my fingers allowing gravity to take its toll. It was almost like free falling with two backup safety systems! They didn’t take any longer than a minute to get down, if anything 30 seconds! The longest was the first, which probably took about a minute. After one of them you landed in a pool of water!
We then relaxed back at the hotel for a bit to revive and recover our energy for our last activity, a nature hike and tour of more of the forest. We hiked about two miles up towards the arenal volcano, which is actually currently active. We saw quite a bit more wildlife such as a white-faced monkey whilst we were under a 500 year old tree taking a picture and surprisingly, it climbed down from the tall branches to come up in closer proximity to us and most likely analyze us just as we were him. The white-faced monkeys are known to be mean; they will purposely destroy hummingbird nests or crush and crack animal eggs for the sake of fun! The howler monkeys are a bit nicer, but if they see you standing underneath them on a tree they will purposely poop or pee, and they have great aim. SO, they aren’t THAT much nicer. I even saw a tiny green snake that is extremely poisonous by the end of the tour, which excited me because I was sort of hoping but also dreading the idea of seeing a snake. It was such a cute little slivery thing. I learned about a leaf that grows on trees that has many different uses. When its ripe you can brew a tea with it that supposedly helps you lose weight. When it’s rotten and dead you can use the stem as a sponge and apparently you can even use the leave to smoke and it gets you high! Not that this is the BEST use for it. Nature is insanely incredible. Another fun fact I learned is that since squirrels don’t have that much fur and it can get cold, they wrap their tails around their necks for extra warmth and that is where the idea of the scarf came from!! Also a good tip in the forest: brightly colored frogs as well as mushrooms, and probably just any animal that is brightly colored like a snake for example, is most likely poisonous. You can tell because of the color! I also learned that for one year the arenal volcano was extremely active and would go off every 20 minutes! But it isn’t the traditional liquid pouring red lava you see in movies its often solid by the time it reaches the top of the crescent because it took so long to travel all the way up and the molten lava solidifies as it cools at the top! SO it’s like giant boulders exploding from the volcano. The rainforest is breathtakingly gorgeous; it is remarkable to see the millions of shades of green and abundance of tree types flourishing in the rich soil. The infinite amount of different species of insects in Costa Rica is unbelievable and a bit startling. And what’s even more impressive is all of the locals’ extensive knowledge of all of these species, this environment, and their huge emphasis on preserving its beauty by being extremely eco-friendly and gentle with nature and the animals. Not one piece of trash on the ground, and never will you see somebody waste a plate of food or waste anything for that matter. If only it was like that in LA. Tomorrow we head off to our last hotel! Salut!
~xoxo Ali~

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