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I’m home in the Hammer. I left here mid-November for Costa Rica, left there early April for the USA, took the Walking with Wolf West Coast Tour up the wet west coast to Vancouver and finally returned to my home in Ontario. After weeks of mostly rainy, cool weather in the west I’ve arrived to summer temperatures but the dark wet clouds are still following me. Life is now about enjoying the Canadian summer and settling into my home just long enough to make it simpler to rent before I return to Costa Rica.

And then there is the World Cup. Since my first year in Costa Rica (which was their first year in the Copa Mondial de Futbol – 1990), I have been susceptible to the fever and am thankful that, like a good bout of malaria, it only hits once every four years. The added emotion this year of the beautiful game being played in free and proud South Africa has brought a rainbow of tears to the eyes of the world and it’s still only the first round. On the plane home I watched the movie Invictus and cried some more. Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika!

In Vancouver I was staying with my friend Star Trickey at her co-op building in the east end of the city. Anyone would tell you that Commercial Drive is THE place to be watching international futbol on the west coast. With my friend Saskia, we headed out each day to catch the 11 am games, visiting a different establishment each time, sampling various menus (loved the potato latkes at Stella’s and the lattes at Joe’s Café). I have to admit that a big part of my game watching is about something I’ve engaged in since I was young (my mother used to tell me that I’ve been doing this since I was 2 years old) – which is boy-watching. They don’t call it the beautiful game for nothing. Pure unadulterated (no padding or helmets) athletic bodies of all sizes and colours, powerful leg muscles, adrenalin-tinged faces, huge smiles, great hair, cute butts…well, you get my drift.

Commercial Drive offers great medicine for futbol fever and a whole lot more – great food, great music, great shops, great sausages. On Italia Day, The Drive closed for several blocks to car traffic, the restaurants sold food on the street and musicians performed and everyone danced. A highlight was a small community chorus, the Cultural Medicine Cabinet Choir, which rehearses at Britannia Community Center, and sings music in sweet harmony representing the diverse ethnicity of its members. Star, a woman of strong glorious voice and dynamic passionate personality, is hoping to join them.

Star has spent the last year singing with the fabulous Universal Gospel Choir in Vancouver. They held their final concerts of the season while I was there. Star’s mother, my good friend Jean, as well as her sister Spirit, came to town for the occasion. I was so lucky to be there at the right time. Jean and I went to hear Star and the choir sing both nights. The first night we managed to get in to the almost sold out show, but had seats in the second to last row of the big Canadian Memorial United Church – we felt like church mice sneaking in to the party, twisting our heads this way and that to catch a glimpse of Star or any of the other performers, knowing we would surely not be seen by any of them.

The second night, friends and family in tow, we got to the church on time, early in fact, and managed to get seats in the second row from the front. What a difference about twenty rows makes! We could see the concentration in the faces of the singers, the joy and pride in their eyes, their quivering tonsils in their wide open mouths. We could watch the director, Kathryn Nicholson, in her animated conducting, and Linda Lujan playing her electric guitar like the ol’ rock ‘n roller that she is. A side note about Linda is that she runs a bi-weekly karaoke night at the Princeton Pub in Vancouver. We went there one Sunday and she opened the show with Etta James’ heart-wrenching “At last” – and had us shouting for more! A very talented, lively and friendly lady is that Linda Lujan.

 But for us, our rising star is Morning Star. I’ve known the Trickey family since the early 80s when we all lived in the bush of northeastern Ontario from where we have all wandered in many directions. I’ve spoken in blogs before about her mom, Minnie Jean Brown Trickey, one of the Little Rock Nine (first teenagers who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas in 1957). Star was just becoming a teenager when I met the family. She and her siblings were raised in a house in the bush with no electricity and grew up with strong arms from milking cows and swatting blackflys. When Jean left her husband, she took the kids out of the bush on an adventure that hasn’t stopped. It included a time when Jean worked in Clinton’s White House and Star was living in nearby Maryland and had a horrific car accident that resulted in her leg being amputated.

Now Star lives in Vancouver, providing the maternal and spiritual heart for her co-op apartment building, raising her very cool son, Thelonius, and singing in this celebrated choir. She sang the final duet, Over My Head, with her idol, Dawn Pemberton (who also performed with the No Shit Shirleys in these concerts) and they rocked the joint, mmm, I mean the church. I have no doubt that this Star is going to keep rising until she becomes the super nova – next time I’m in Vancouver, I expect to see her singing the blues in a smoke-free barroom with a trio behind her and a crowd of worshippers in front. You are the light in the sky, Ms Star.

The rest of this family ain’t just sitting on their laurels either. Jean does workshops on tolerance, diversity and equality, and guides tours on civil rights throughout the US.  Her youngest , Leila, is in university but is also a talented cake designer, nanny, and recently addicted world traveler (who shows up in former blog posts when we hung out in Costa Rica together in 2009).

 And then there is Spirit, who lives with Jean in Little Rock and is a key figure behind the Little Rock National Historic Site museum. She just received her Master’s from the Clinton School of Public Service (U of Arkansas) and is dedicating her life to social change through the arts. She’s already produced her first play, “One Ninth”, telling the Central High story through her mother’s 15-year-old eyes. A few months ago Spirit was placed on The Grio’s 100 History Makers in the Making – I saw her featured on Good Morning America along with Newark’s mayor and Wyclef Jean – at 29 years, she’s just getting started. Stand back, cause Spirit is on a roll and I don’t think she’s gonna stop till she’s changed the world!

There are also three male siblings in this family – Ethan, who made a cameo appearance in Van, Sol and Isaiah – but their stories will have to wait till another time. The female Trickeys are enough for one blog.

There was a colourful cast of characters who constantly accompanied the Trickeys, including Mook, a talented chef from New Zealand who happily fed us a fantastic lamb dinner and much more (and I constantly apologized to for messing up his name); Craig, a kindly soul who seems to step in to take care of anything Star needs; Jeremy, an animated father and friend; Nelia and Mike, Dan and Jackie, the kiddies-Mason, Nathan and Taylor – well I couldn’t keep up to the people and relationships, but was very aware that the co-op is more than just an apartment building – as Star says, it’s Melrose Place without the money or the pool (although I decided that Jackie could fill in for Heather Locklear in a pinch). It’s a large kinda quirky family who shares in fun, childcare, and dog care. Which brings me to Miso.

Star’s dog Miso became my latest animal buddy. She’s of the pointer variety, rescued by Star before she was put down. She’s a sweet thang, mostly well-behaved, unbarkable, a little whiney sometimes. We went for daily walks to the local schoolyard where she could chase the ball endlessly. I got to know the local dogs and their people, and, as always, now miss the pup as much as I miss the people. I’m a dog person, and a cat person, but because of my erratic life-style, I can’t keep them. So I have to have affairs whenever possible. So Star let me share in loving Miso while I was there.

The other folks I spent a lot of time with while in the city were an old friend, Michael, who I hadn’t seen in many years; Saskia, a good friend since years ago in Monteverde who I manage to hook up with now and then; and a more recent friend I met in Monteverde, the divine Ms Holly Burke. She’s a flautist, a piano player, a songstress and a great performer. In the short time we had together, I managed to catch her playing in a few different capacities.

She played flute one cold wet day for a garden tour on the North Shore. She was accompanied by a very talented bassist and drummer and though it wasn’t a great day for garden viewing, it was perfect for sambas, bossa novas and jazz played in a dry comfortable room.

 Another night she sat in for a couple numbers with a hot band, Brown Paper Bag, at the Libra Room on Commercial. I got some dancing in that night and apparently inspired this very fine man to get up and boogie, something that, according to the band, they hadn’t seen this regular patron do before. He knew how, so I guess he just needed me, the K-atalyst, on the dancefloor!

Saskia and I went with Holly to a party where she also picked up her pretty blue ukulele and accompanied her good friend Donna Newsom, another talented lady. I am convinced that in a world where just about everything we do and create takes precious resources from the earth – even producing art and books uses materials that aren’t necessarily healthy or renewable – it’s the making of music, the singing of songs and the movement of dance that gives the most bang for your buck. They provide precious soul medicine, health benefits and communal healing without demanding much in the way of fossil fuel or mineral consumption (I’m not talking about the Rolling Stones world tour here folks) Kinda like soccer, in its simplest form. All ya need is the ball.  

Besides spending time together in her beautiful apartment hovering over Stanley Park, wandering around that same precious green space one rainy day, and cruising Denman Street’s buffet of fine foods and wares, Holly also arranged for me to be interviewed on Co-op Radio in Vancouver by Charles Boylan, a well-known writer, teacher and socialist broadcaster. It was for the Wake Up with Co-op program – you can imagine with a name like that how early the interview was at. I made the effort to wake up and talk clearly, as I appreciate whatever publicity I can get for Walking with Wolf.

I also spoke one Sunday at the Vancouver Friends Meeting and managed to sell the last of the books that I had with me. It was a very attentive friendly crowd and a lovely ending to the Walking with Wolf takes the West Coast Tour. I thank my new friend Gail Harwood not only for arranging the day and providing the projector, but also meeting up for spirited conversation over breakfast and a soccer game.

You can imagine in a city like Vancouver how many terrific restaurants there are. I had some wonderful foods caress my taste buds but want to give a recommendation for two special places (besides the little sausage shop on Commercial at about 3rd that isn’t always open but has a line-up when it is). One is an Ethiopian restaurant on Commercial – the Harambe – where the service is friendly, the food divine and the atmosphere exquisite.

The other is the eclectic Latin-tapas restaurant in Gastown called Cobre. It belongs to a good friend of the Trickey’s, Jason Kelly, and his partners. In a very modern coppery setting, they serve new world Latin-fusion cuisine based on old world traditional ingredients. Our last night out was spent lingering over fine wine and a parade of beautifully presented tapas, including maple glazed wild boar belly as well as a blue corn bread with sweet chili butter to die for. It was a grand finale of a feast to remember Vancouver by, enjoyed with this special gathering of the Trickeys and friends.

A few days before I left, Star added a little kitten to her family who became known as Velcro. Both Miso and Velcro are gentle animals and are bound to be good company for each other. In this season of the World Cup, even they succumbed to futbol fever – it was all fun up until the dog ate the little soccer ball…but that’s another story. I send out my love, respect, and appreciation to Star, T, Leila, Spirit and Jean (and the co-op family), for including me in their days of merriment and mirth – see you in July! Also to Holly and Saskia for the great times we had here, there, and everywhere. I miss you all and enjoyed every moment – hasta la proxima, amorcitas! 

Jean, K, T, Andre, Spirit, Leila, Jason & Star @ Cobre

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I spent the last week on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, living a very slothful existence. It isn’t hard to do that – the place is sleepy and the pace is slow. The week was rainy – it drizzled, it poured, it spit – and then the sun would shine and all would be forgiven. My friend Leila had her first taste of the towns of Cahuita and then Puerto Viejo – and, like me, finds herself a Cahuita girl.  I wrote about this last year – how people are drawn to one of these communities more than the other – and once again lethargic Cahuita has won out over quaking Puerto with one of my friends. We spent one night – Leila and our friend Largo, and Roberto and I – listening to live music and dancing in Puerto – but were happy to leave the next day and head back to Cahuita were life is as slow as a sloth’s jig.

 

 

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Sometimes life doesn’t work out as we think it will. I have told the story here of my friend Roberto Levey, a man I have loved for years and was reconnected with last June after a few years passed when I didn’t go to Cahuita. I have written of how he was united with his eighteen-year-old daughter from Australia in October and though plans were started for him to go there following the loss of his jungle home in the floods of early November, he decided that he didn’t want to go that far away from his home. Instead he has been rebuilding his little shack in the jungle (after a second flood took some more of his possessions, he finally gave up the spot that he was on and moved to higher ground where the flood waters didn’t reach.)

 

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And though there was a connection made between him and his daughter and her mother that almost took him far away, when he decided not to go it opened the door to our relationship that has simmered for many years. Now it is a pot started with friendship and filled with chemistry that has boiled over with love and respect. So Roberto and I have started something, and only time will tell if it can endure the tests brought by long distance and cultural differences.

 

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In our favor, we are both bush people as well as dancers, thinkers, talkers and naturally positive people who have cared for each other for years and know each other’s history. We both believe in the Dalai Lama’s philosophy of kindness. Roberto lives his life proudly with few possessions and refuses to fret about what he has lost – something I admire since I think that consumerism and desire for material comfort is one of the greatest demands placed on our earth. To be able to live so simply is a challenge but Roberto proves it can be done with grace and humor. He loves deeply and lives passionately and he has lost plenty in his life. As have most. And he endures. 

 

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The fact that we are both bush people cannot be undervalued – I don’t think Roberto ever thought he would know a woman who could live in his humble little shack on his wild piece of tropical rainforest. But when I spent my first night there last week, I told him it was just like camping – something I have done all my life, not excluding my years of living in a funky log cabin in northeastern Ontario without running water or electricity. Here, however, there are monkeys in the trees and the possibility that a poisonous snake may have moved in under your bed.

 

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The mosquitoes weren’t as bad as they would be much of the camping season in the north but there’s a whole other buncha bugs here that cause nasty problems. The leaf cutter ants march on their employment lines everywhere, taking down the best of the vegetation. Then there is the botfly, the torsalo, whose eggs are deposited by a mosquito and grow into fat larva and eventually into another fly unless you squeeze the buggers out.

 

 

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This is what I squeezed out of one of the bites. There was also a white maggot elsewhere… after a visit with some biologists in the know, I found out two importants things: if you put iodine on a suspicious bite right from the offset, you may prevent the growth of the eggs inside you. If you have a torsalo larva growing, put some oil on it – it will suffocate the beast and make it impossible for it to brace its little arms and hold on while you are trying to squeeze it out – instead you have greased its way.  Zepol also works (sore muscle ointment) as an irritant for the the little intruders.

 

 

 

There are the sand flies (or maybe mosquitos) that cause papalomoyo (leishmaniasis) whose bite won’t heal and continues to grow into a huge scar of eaten flesh on your body. I’ve now experienced papalomoyo myself and have also had the intense pleasure(?) of extracting both the larva and the grown botfly out of Roberto’s backside. It is hard to explain the sensation of seeing the little hairs on the head of the creature appearing and then the fat maggot coming out. It is hard to squeeze the flesh of the person you love while they try not to scream in pain, but quite satisfying when the little bug pops out as if exploded from a cannon. Roberto has some great stories about these bugs but I don’t think I need to share them here as I can feel you squirming already. My work here is done.

 

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The stream of water that flows through Roberto’s finca is fresh and clean and teaming with his little fish friends, his piranhitas, who clean his pots in a frenzy and nibble on your body when you sit in the aqua pools. He has seen a jaguarundi skulking about the banana plants and wild pigs rooting about as well as domestic ones that have come wandering down from a neighbor’s property. The bird, insect and amphibian songs fill the atmosphere throughout the day and all night long, coming at you from the tops of the trees to the forest floor, reaching a crescendo at dawn and dusk, songs I’ve never heard before. And the monkeys come to keep an eye on his progress as Roberto rebuilds his little hut.

 

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One overcast gloomy day, we went for a walk north of town to where a friend of Roberto’s lived until he passed away recently. It was a sad day for Roberto who will miss his friend Jerry Lee. We passed the grown over ruins of Cahuita, houses that either had served their time and were abandoned, or which were never completed beyond someone’s dreams. The lush vegetation crawls everywhere and strangles everything it can.

 

black-beach

We returned by the Black Beach, named for its black volcanic sand (that alone its great Reggae Bar), which was full with the flotsam and jetsam vomited from the sea after the weeks and months of rain. The beach was almost non-existent, replaced by mostly soggy organic refuse and the ubiquitous plastic bottles that wash up from everywhere. I couldn’t help but think of Roberto’s father, Bato, who lived much of his life in wild constructions on the beach made by materials the sea had deposited at his feet (see East Coast Pleasures post). It was a melancholy day already and the waves of debris that we walked through kept us quieter than usual.

 

palm-viper

The wet weather of the last few months seems to be affecting the wildlife. On the trail through Cahuita National Park, a lovely path just a few feet inland from the beach where you can walk in the shade, I saw two eyelash palm vipers one morning. I have only ever seen these in pictures yet by the end of the week I had seen four. Whether they were the same two seen twice or not, I don’t know, but they were sitting so close to the path, wrapped around small bushes, that a tourist, intent on watching a bird up high in the trees, was warned by the passing park ranger to move out of striking distance as they are quite venomous. The poor birdwatcher hadn’t realized how close he was to this bright yellow serpent. They are usually a little further back in the forest, not so noticeable, but the wet swampy land must have driven them to the drier ground of the pathway.

 

path-thru-jungle

For three days and nights, sodden by intermittent showers, the howler monkeys roared.  Well, they didn’t just roar, they moaned and groaned and lamented and pleaded and cried and chanted and carried on in a way that even Roberto, who has lived here most of his life, had to admit was very strange. I have certainly never heard them go on like this. We started getting a little paranoid when they seemed to react to our every move though we were inside the cabin we had rented (at Villa Delmar, a quiet grouping of cabins with kitchens on the edge of town, very sweet place.) We started looking out the window to the branches where the monkeys were perched, to see if they were watching us with binoculars they had stolen from some distracted tourist. I will never forget this chorus of primates and how they provided a mournful soundtrack to our own restlessness throughout these wet dreamy days.

 

 

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A highlight of the week was heading up to the Sloth Sanctuary just north of Cahuita. Also known as Aviarios del Caribe, a bird sanctuary created in 1972 by a couple from Cahuita, it has become better known for its rehabilitation services for injured and orphaned sloths since receiving its first infant in 1992. This sloth is still there, Buttercup is her name, and I think she may have been Spielberg’s inspiration for E-T.

 

 

 

 

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Roberto and his daughter had taken a baby sloth there that they had found in October and he knew that I would be fascinated by the place. So we went up and met the babies left behind when their mothers have been killed, the amputees whose limbs were lost to electrical wires or road accidents, and the long-term residents whose luck brought them from whatever danger they had encountered to the tender loving care of the Arroyo family.

 

baby-sloth

Besides nursing the injured back to health and reintroducing the strong back into the wild, the center is very much a place of knowledge and information about sloths (also known as kukulas in Cahuita or peresozos in Spanish, from the word that means lazy.) There is much misinformation and falsehood spread about these gentle animals and the center makes it their duty to correct that as they study and amass understanding about the Bradypus and the Choloepus families (three and two toed sloths). It is well worth a stop at the Sloth Sanctuary, even if you never thought about these beautiful, humble soft little creatures before. There is perhaps a lot to be learned by their vegetarian, pacifistic and slow-moving ways. The world could no doubt benefit from their example of simple non-aggressive living. I think the Dalai Lama would be proud of the sloths as well as the people at the sloth center who have taken on their rehabilitation and protection.

 

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I will be returning there in a couple of weeks to take some copies of Walking with Wolf to their gift shop. I look forward to spending a little more time amid their gentle ways and graceful movements. I’ll then walk back into the vibrant green forest to Roberto’s little humble shack and count my blessings. And suspend myself, in true sloth style, in a hammock, slung between trees, and contemplate my next very slow but deliberately pacifistic move which, I think, involves writing another book.

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I am back in the wind, but it is a warm sleepy breeze here in Cahuita rather than the wild winds of Monteverde. The air and the water are both balmy. There’s no wireless connection in this town so I’ve become a little less connected with the bigger world this past week. That’s fine with me. My existence here is basic but rich, slow but always winding my way toward the horizon where the sky and sea meet.

 

 

 

ccahuita 

Costa Rica’s beaches cover almost every imaginable variation. A week ago I was in Manuel Antonio on the central Pacific coast – one of the first beaches to be developed for tourism and definitely one of the busiest. Now I’m in Cahuita on the Caribbean and its charm for me lays in the fact that it hasn’t changed all that much since I first came in 1990. I tend to gravitate to less populated places with a high relax factor and so I fit in well here.

 

 

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On the other hand, and coast, Manuel Antonio sits at the end of an action-packed seven kilometer road that starts in Quepos, once a fishing village now a busy town handling the commercial side of the tourism trade. The road crawls up and over the rocky cliffs to the beach of Manuel Antonio and its National Park and is filled with hotels and restaurants that can be seen gracing the pages of Architectural Digest or Conde Naste magazines. I’ve managed to stay at a couple of these places over the years just because someone I know knew someone who could get us a great deal, but otherwise I could never afford any of them. The best I can do, as I did with my friends on Valentine’s Day, is walk the road and stop in for a drink in different establishments just to get the feel of their atmosphere and design.

 

 

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Manuel Antonio’s beaches are beautiful – the large white sand beach that fronts the little town, where people can swim but there is also enough wave action for surfers – and the smaller beaches that you must enter the National Park to access. Even though there are a lot of tourists around, you can walk the paths and arrive at the more secluded beaches – passing silent sloths, raucous white-faced monkeys and the rare little squirrel monkeys playing in the trees – the forest that you walk through is alive and diverse.

 

 

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The majority of the tourists seem to like to gather with all the others on the main beach where umbrellas and lounge chairs can be rented. The last time I was in MA it wasn’t like this. But then I never was one to be here often and several years have passed and if there is one thing I know in Costa Rica, it is that change comes fast and furious. Everyone in the area steps up to try to make a living off the tourists – working in restaurants, hotels or tour and souvenir shops or selling their wares illegally on the sidewalks and beach stalls (the vendors all scatter when word spreads that the police are on the way to check their permits.)

 

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Pretty young girls learn how to carry pots and plates on their heads at very early ages and walk the beach selling fruit and snacks until they are beautiful young women doing a good business. And the guys with the great personalities become the great bartenders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

k-in-sarongs

Although tourists coming to Costa Rica are warned about being robbed – definitely a caution not to take lightly – this has actually only happened to me twice in the nineteen years of coming here.  And both situations were identical – I left shoes outside at night and someone picked them up. The first time was at a different beach many years ago, outside of a tent I was sleeping in when the thief left my brand new $100 Birkenstocks but took my friend’s used but nice running shoes. This year I left my sarong and sandals outside of the condo I was staying in and next morning they were gone. Lesson learned (again) – fortunately I was quickly distracted from my loss by a pair of pygmy owls nesting in the tree next to our room – and was able to cheaply replace both the shoes and the sarong.

 

mar-y-sombra

Soak-in-the-sea-days, great food, and nights spent dancing – thus went the days at Manuel Antonio. I spent this little beach vacation with my pals Jeff the crooner (if you throw him a line he’ll have to sing you a verse…)

 

 

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and Randy One-Flop from Hamilton,

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 and Special KKKK-Kevin from New Brunswick. Wonderful men are they all and we had fun. Kevin stayed on in steamy Quepos while Jeff and Randy and I went up to the cool climate of Monteverde.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We spent a beautiful sunny day in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve walking with Wolf. When the sun shines in the cloud forest, you can’t help but feel blessed. Wolf was in good form, taking a new painkiller which makes his walking easier.  He’s been suffering from worn out knees (including a new one) for years.

 

 

 

 

 

boys-on-trail

The day started a little drizzly but turned into a blue sky glimpsed behind the sparkle of the sun on the wet leaves of the forest canopy. We met up with a couple of guys from the United States and ended up selling a couple of books – I tell ya, I’m always working. After Wolf went home for lunch, Randy, Jeff and I continued wandering the trails through the Reserve, glimpsed a quetzal, went out to the red swinging bridge named in honor of Wolf, and onward to the ventana or window with spectacular views east over the Peñas Blancas valley and west over the Nicoya Peninsula.

 

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We finally walked home along the Nuboso trail built with wooden “cookies” and block steps through the elfin forest and back to the entrance on the newly-made accessible part. A perfect day spent in the Cloud Forest Reserve.

 

 

That night I finally met up with Leila Trickey – the daughter of my friend Jean who I have written about in earlier blogs (K-Stock and Not So Scary After All). We’ve been playing email tag but finally ended up in the same physical place – Santa Elena. I’ve known Leila since she was about a year old and it has been great spending time with her down here.  She is at the start of a long solo trip through Central America but being a new traveler was glad to touch base with “a local”.

 

leila

Leila is afraid of heights (and I have to say I enjoyed traveling down the mountain in the bus with her more than anyone I’ve journeyed with before – she could barely look out the window at the steep hillsides we were descending without squealing and jumping back in her seat but fought her fear and kept on taking pictures.) Nor did her fear stop her from going out and doing the canopy tour – specifically at Selvatur, your one-stop eco-experience-shopping-mall on the far side of Santa Elena (with one of the best bug collections in the world.) Randy and Jeff headed out in the morning to do the ziplines as well, Randy also prepared to face his fear of height. They all loved it though (that facing-your-fear-and-surviving thing is empowering) and would have gone again if they had the time.

 

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We took a taxi a few kilometers further (you can always work a good deal with the taxi drivers around here) just to see the view over Arenal volcano and lake from El Mirador de San Gerardo.  This is one of the most stunning scenes in Costa Rica I think. Yet few people make it out this way to see it or even know about it (or are too busy with all the other Monteverde activities or the weather isn’t conducive to seeing anything but clouds and fog). To have a perfectly clear sunny day to witness this beauty was another gift. Stephen Spielberg, eat your heart out.

 

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We then took a wine and cheese picnic out to the bullpen (a magical pasture that I’ve written about before.) We stayed on until the shadows lengthened and then headed to one of the best sunset spots in Monteverde, the Fonda Vela Hotel. They have a great outdoor balcony that looks out to the horizon. There have been many concerts at the Fonda Vela over the years and when planned well, the musical intermission would be right when the sun was setting. The second half of the concert would be by candlelight in the high ceilinged dining room.

 

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Now there is a pool table out on the balcony to play on while watching the sun go down.  Just adds to an already great place. (Ms Costa Rica, Leila, in one of her brother Ethan’s designed shirts – check out www.miolacooperative.com)

 

 

 

 

 

sunset-2

We finished our tour of Monteverde tasting a bit of nightlife at Chancho’s Bar in Santa Elena – Randy and I happy to do the dancing, Leila and Jeff soaking up the local culture – the perfect day turned to perfect night by the outdoor fire outside Chancho’s funky little bar. Monteverde shone like a star for us over these days.

 

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Leila wanted to see the Caribbean so I left my Pacific pals behind and brought her to Cahuita. And here I stay. Always working. Uh-huh. Until next time…   

 

 

 

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