Monday, October 03, 2011

Aerial tram through the rainforest

So, as I mentioned yesterday, I had to get up about 3am to get to the airport for my international flight that flew from Houston to Miami and then I had to run halfway across the airport (where are those moving sidewalks when you need them?!), take a tram to the international terminal, and board my flight to San Jose. So I was a wee bit tired. I arrived in Costa Rica and met Freddy Lizano with ICT (Costa Rica Tourism Board), and Elizabeth Glazner a writer from California and Paula Alvarado, a writer for Treehugger from Buenos Aires. Cool ladies! We ate lunch at this restaurant on the way between San Jose (the capital) and our destination of Earth University in Guacimo. They had Salsa Lizano - mmm good! It is not spicy but made from vegetables. It's indescribable, but scrumptious. They did not have Arroz con Palmito, but I'm hoping I can get some somewhere. While dining, it started raining, then pouring...
Before we got to the university, we stopped for an aerial tram tour of the rainforest at Rainforest Adventures. They also have a zip line and other things. It was sort of thundering in the distance and we were the only people on the tram... I don't know if you know this, but I have a dreadful irrational (or perhaps, rational) phobia of lightning and thunder - especially being out in it. But I survived. This preserve borders Braulio Carillo National Park and includes some secondary and some virgin rainforest - if I remember correctly (there may only be virgin rainforest inside the park). At any rate, the tram had a cover but you got dampish and wet anyway. I didn't get great photos because I was cautious about getting my camera out and ruined in the rain! I did have a rain sleeve but it makes it hard to photograph. But I got a few pics! And it was absolutely amazing to be up in the canopy, in the lush green rainforest!!
Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and spoke perfect English. That's one thing that I think a lot of people from the U.S. may not realize about Costa Rica. And of course this varies by exactly where you go in the country as there are more remote places than others, but nearly everyone speaks at least a little English (many speak it fluently), it's a safe country with very friendly people that are educated and do not have any sort of anti-American attitude. You can even drink the water (from the tap)! And although like anywhere where there are some conflicts between development and environment, the country really does embrace and aim for sustainability and conservation. In fact the entire country is trying to achieve carbon neutrality by 2021. Pretty cool! Oh, back to the guide - he called these "broccoli trees" - they do look like broccoli don't they?! There are 3 species of broccoli tree (their crowns resemble broccoli) which can be told apart by their flowers, when they are flowering).
This is a tree fern and it is shot from waaaaay above! The tram is constantly moving, hence the movement in the image.
More rainforest canopy and a broccoli tree to the left.
I love the misty clouds.
Paula in the tram!
This was a little sign back at the office area for the Rainforest Adventures for a bullet ant. The guide told us they hang out in this little area. It is very painful if you get stung!!
Very unfocused but I had to share this image. This is the road we drove in on... the water covered the road when it was time to get back! Apparently this is a regular occurrence in the rainy season, so there is a suspension bridge we walked back over the river on where our main car was parked (we had taken the tourism company's van over in case this happened). Pretty exciting!

Next, we got back in the car and headed to Earth University, where we got checked into our lodging on campus. We each have our own room & they are sort of dorm like but nicer - with hot showers and comfy beds and a fan and deck but no AC.
The university frequently hosts conference and the lodging is open for conference attendees but I'm not sure about the public. One guidebook said you can arrange to stay here but I was told they're picky about who stays, so I'm not sure. At any rate it's humid but it cools down at night. Some creepy crawlies share the room with me, and a ginormagantuan cicada kept banging against the back patio last night but I like bugs and creepy crawlies so it's all good as far as I'm concerned! We had a dinner with some of the conference organizers and presenters at the university, but I will tell you more about that soon.

I will be doing podcasts for Adventures in Climate Change - if all goes according to plan, it will be one from the final day of the conference tomorrow, one from Selva Bananito Ecolodge (which has achieved the 5-leaf level for being sustainable certified) and one from Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn near San Jose, also 5-leaf certified. Both of the owners of these lodges are at this conference and are involved in promoting sustainable tourism in Costa Rica. Juergen Stein, the Selva Bananito owner, is also head of Climate Change Committee of CANAECO (Costa Rica's Ecotourism Chamber) which is putting on the conference along with ICT which is governmental.

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