Sunday, November 9, 2014

Best Birthday Party Ever! [Monte Verde]

This weekend the whole crew (Becca, Sierra, Brittany, Sophie, Darcy, David, and I) went to Monte Verde for Darcy's 22nd birthday (November 6) and David's 24th birthday (November 7).  It worked out perfectly because last week was another four day school week so we had an extra long weekend to celebrate!

On Thursday we went to meet our shuttle at the church as always.  David asked the man with the first shuttle that we found if he was there for us.  He told us that he was but he did not know where we were going/who we were or have any paperwork as proof.  A couple of guys around the shuttle were also urging us to go with him.  We were all very doubtful if it was the right one when he told us he was taking us into San Jose where the next guy would pick us up to take us to Monte Verde.  We were not having that.  Another shuttle pulled up and David went to talk to that guy, as the first guy was still trying to convince us he was taking us.  The other guy knew David's name and where we were going so we gladly hopped into his shuttle.  The first man still would not take no for an answer and came over, trying to convince our shuttle guy that he was the one supposed to be taking us.  Eventually he realized there was no way we were getting in his shuttle and left us alone.  As we sat in our shuttle, waiting to leave, we saw the cops pull up and go talk to the guys who were trying to get us to go in the previous shuttle.  They took a flashlight and dug through one of the guys' backpacks.  Nothing happened but we had no problem creating our own theories as to what was going on.  Eventually we took off for Monte Verde.

A little over two hours after leaving Santa Ana, we hit the rough patch.  I will say, it was not nearly as bad as I expected it to be.  The last hour of driving was on a very bumpy gravel road.  Luckily, I had been warned that it would be a crazy ride.  When I saw it was a gravel road, I don't necessarily mean gravel like at home.  It was BASICALLY a long gravel road, except they forgot to crush up the rocks into gravel so it was more like a long dirt road filled with large rocks.  We made it to the Visto al Golfo Hostel and checked in only to find out we were staying in the kitchen.  Okay, well not exactly IN the kitchen but our rooms were accessed by going through the kitchen.  We also were not able to lock our rooms which was a little sketchy but it worked out fine.  The hostel was pretty nice.  It was already almost 10 o'clock so we were ready to lay down and relax.  The rooms were chilly so Becca, Sophie, and I all snuggled into one twin sized bed to keep warm for the night.

                Snugglefest 2014 Part 2

We woke up Friday morning ready for a nice big breakfast provided to us by the hostel.  We each got a plate full of fruit and a pancake the size of our heads. After breakfast, we spent the morning making cat pictures of David for his birthday, because cats are his favorite animal.  (Disclaimer: David hates cats)

Happy 24th birthday, David! You are one cool cat!

Then everyone got ready and headed out into town.  We looked around at some stores and had lunch at a restaurant in town.  Around 1:30 we boarded a bus to take us out to the cheese factory.  We took a tour of the factory first.  They talked about how 11 Quaker families came to Monte Verde from AL because they refused to sign up for the military draft.  These families settled there and utilized that cow farms in the area to open up a cheese factory.  At the end of the tour we got to try 5 different cheeses and a caramel that they make in this factory.  We also bought some ice cream afterwards that was made there.

After the cheese factory, we took the bus back into town where we did some shopping.  We booked a night tour in the rainforest and then went out for dinner.  We went to a place called The Treehouse which was a restaurant with a giant tree in it (hence the name).

We went back to the hostel and put on some warm clothes before catching our shuttle at 8:30PM to our night tour.  The tour was AWESOME!  Our guides name was Donald and he was hilarious.  We each carried flashlights and he pointed out various animals along the way.  His favorite things to say were:
  • "Oh my goodness!"
  • "We are so lucky!"
  • "What the hell are you talking about?"
  • "Check this out, check this out!"
We saw a lot of really neat animals.  To name some:
  • a two-toed sloth

  • a hummingbird
  • a cool leaf-looking bug
  • a Green Viper snake (deadly)

  • a giant grasshopper
  • an orange-kneed tarantula
  • a scorpion
  • an emerald toucan
  • a kingachu
  • a keel-billed toucan (looks like Toucan Sam)
  • and my personal favorite: the Red Eyed Tree Frog!

I was so excited when David found the frog because this specific species has been my favorite animal since elementary school!  We went back to the hostel afterwards and hung out for awhile before going to sleep.

Saturday morning we woke up and had another plate of fruit for breakfast with eggs and toast.  We got ready for the day and then hopped on our shuttle to go zip lining.  

When we got there, we had to sign a waiver saying that the company was not liable for injury or death.  I read through the guest book and everyone gushed about how great it was which got me even more excited.  We all got harnessed up and then took off to zip line!

Holy Moly.  It was fantastic.  The company we went through has the longest zip line in Latin America at 1590 meters.  It had multiple zip lines, a rope bridge, a rappel, and a mega Tarzan swing.  I won't lie, I was a little nervous at first, but once we got going it was great!  The first few zip lines were pretty small and not TOO high from the ground.  Once I got to the third or fourth one was so long I could not even see the end!  And it was so high!  I survived though.  The superman one was pretty fun.  There were two superman zip lines.  The first one I freaked out halfway through because I realized that I could just fall straight down a gazillion feet and have no chance of saving myself.  The second one I enjoyed a little more.

My favorite part however was the Mega Tarzan Swing at the end.  I wasn't sure I wanted to do it but a big part of this trip for my is facing my fears and trying new things.  To get to the rope we had to walk out on a bridge that was about 300 feet long and 150 feet up in the air.  While standing on the platform at the end of the bridge, the two instructors hooked you in and got you ready to go.  I kept repeating "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh.." and one of the guys up there kept laughing at me, saying "oh your God, oh your God..."  Then, they open up the little door and off you go!  Its a 148 foot jump and the the rope catches you and you swing!  I don't have any pictures of myself swinging but David took a video which I posted to Facebook if anyone would like to see it.  It was by far the best part of the whole experience, which is saying a lot because zip lining was great.

We went to a pizza place for lunch and then did some more shopping before going back to the hostel. We spent the afternoon relaxing and playing games.  For dinner we went to a fancy restaurant with wine bottles and center pieces and lit candles to set the mood.  On our walk back to the hostel we ran into Donald, our tour guide from the night before!

We went back and played games for the  rest of the night.  First we played bowl (which is a lot like charades except a lot more fun); then we played Catch Phrase.  At some point during our game the hostel lady came down and have us a talking to.  She told us that after 10 o'clock we had to talk slowly.  We said okay and then she left.  When she said slowly, she meant quietly, but we still joked about it all night.  There were signs every where with various rules such as "do not take the blankets out of your rooms" and "wash your dishes" and there was a $10 fine if you broke the rule.  We spent the night telling each other to talk slowly or we would be fined $10.  Eventually we hit the hay (another one of Donald's favorite sayings).

We woke up this morning to another breakfast of fruit and giant pancakes.  Check out was at 10AM but the shuttle wasn't coming until 1 so we walked into town to shop, explore, and eat lunch.  We bought souvenirs and ate at Taco Taco for lunch.  Then we had ice cream from a store supplied by the cheese factory before we went back to the hostel to catch our shuttle.

Even though the road was crazy, it was nice to be able to see the scenery of our drive today.  The mountains were beautiful!

Once we got home, Lilliana made Brittany and I dinner.  There was a giant moth sitting on the clock in the kitchen.  By giant, I mean it was the size of my palm.  Brit and I were freaking out a little bit and Lilli went on to tell us that it was a baby moth.  I didn't believe her at first but then she told us about the size of the adult ones and it freaked me out even more!  She tried using her hands to shoo it out the door but it just flew to the light instead so she got the fly swatter to push it out.  It was definitely one of those "you had to be there" moments, but it was so funny.  I thought Brittany and I were both going to choke on our food, we were laughing so hard.

My teacher is in the states tomorrow and Tuesday which means I will be in charge!  Three more weeks left! I can't believe it.  I hear there is snow back home, and as excited as I am to sleep in my own bed again, I don't particularly want to leave the 70-80 degree weather we have here!

You can find all travel posts from Hey Dreamer Blog here.

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