The 200-foot water-slide perched on the edge of Mystic Mountain is the perfect cool down after the sweaty adrenaline rush of bobsleds and zip lines. And despite the speed, I somehow managed to nail the landing – even if I do say so myself.
The second stop atop Mystic Mountain is the zip line canopy tour, a guided series of tree-to-tree platforms that sends you flying through the coastal rainforest. Readers of this site have seen me harnessed up a number of times, so the opportunity to indulge again is a bit of a no-brainer. With only six relatively short lines it’s by far the shortest zip adventure I’ve encountered, yet it also includes two interesting features that spice things up a bit: a vertical rappel and a suspension walking bridge. As for the zip line itself, well, watch the video and you’ll agree it’s so easy even your granny could do it.
ST. LUCIA: I’ve long been a fan of this tiny Caribbean island’s utter lack of pretense – and gorgeously underpopulated beaches. Which is probably why I’ve tended to spend any amount of time here within spitting distance of the water. Escaping the end of the winter, however, I found myself bang between the Pitons at Ladera, the open-air hideaway perched a thousand feet up and flanked by the island’s two towering volcanoes. The birds-eye views seemed to accentuate the great swathes of rainforest which cover the island and inspired me to trek north, into the deep of the jungle, for a nature lesson and zip-line adventure in the forest canopy.
Unlike most Caribbean islands, St. Lucia is ripe with rainforest. Rain Forest Aerial Tram, in the highland community of Chassin, gave me a unique opportunity for the full immersion: a gondola ride up and away into the canopy, a bird’s eye view of the island’s verdant north, and a series of 12 zip lines that had me gliding from platform to platform like a big blue Navi.
GUANACASTE: Since I have already posted a number of entries on Costa Rica, I thought I would try something different and find a photo that encapsulated some of the spirit of my recent trip. The country is so “green” – so conscious of how important its natural resources are to the people and the economy – that nearly a quarter of the country is protected by either the government or private concessions. One of the upshots of such studied conservation is that wildlife is not only abundant but also part of the experience of daily life. To wit: a random walk one afternoon brought me face to face with this giant iguana, soaking up the sun in the crook of a low-lying palm on the side of the road.
ROME: I’ve already live-blogged extensively about my return to Rome a few weeks ago, so indulge me as I post this photo once again and relive the fantasy of being a well-muscled warrior in the service of Caesar Augustus. This is, after all, a bucket list!
Rincon de la Vieja is an active volcano in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, with a large number of fumaroles and hot springs on its slopes. The name means “old woman’s corner,” and according to locals it was named for an old witch on top of the mountain who sent columns of smoke into the air when she was angry. Other versions of the story clam it was named after an old woman who used to cook for weary travelers and that the smoke came from her cooking fire.
Covering 400 square kilometers, it is massive geothermal system – and quite unlike the volcanic peaks more common in the rest of the world. It is more like a mountainous volcanic plateau that stretches on for miles. As part of an even larger national park – almost 25% of Costa Rica is parkland protected by the state – it encompasses rain forest, cloud forest, and an astonishing collection of flora and fauna. Hiking Rincon is rigorous – and wet – yet the rewards are spectacular.
Here are a few highlights from today’s journey.
The first thing I saw at the start of my hike was this boa constrictor curled up in a tree about eight feet off the ground. Doubling back four hours later it was still there, soaking up some sun.
Bubbling fumaroles or vents dot the landscape, letting off steam, sulphur, and a thick white mud said to be good for the skin. Nearby in the trees sat an amazingly colorful rainbow-billed toucan.
The Strangling Ficus – again, orientation issues – may be related to the common household plant, but the similarities end there. It is a parasite, which roots itself around a healthy tree, ultimately surrounding and killing it.