Costa RicaCosta Rica

Day 3: Getting Lost Isn't So Bad

Destination: Puerto Viejo

So, funny story. In Costa Rica, the word "bomba" has many meanings -- the most common is "gas station." We had scheduled a trip to one of the area's top canopy tours for this morning, and our directions stated that we should turn left at "la bomba" and follow the signs, traveling along the riverside and past the old train bridge.

We had turned left at the gas station more than half an hour ago, but hadn't seen one sign for the canopy tour. We were, however, following the river and had just passed a very narrow bridge. We drove deep into the woods, stopping to ask passersby if they knew of a canopy tour nearby. Some nodded yes, pointing deeper into the tropical woodland, and others shrugged their shoulders with indecision.

Driving around a corner, we emerged into a bamboo jungle -- huge tufts of bamboo lined the road, bunched into 10-foot wide groupings. The graceful stalks cascaded into a beautiful canopy over the road, and I felt like I was in an enchanted forest. Driving on, we soon arrived at Bocuare Jungle -- a Southern Caribbean tourism destination, but far from the canopy tour we were searching for.

With a smile, a Bocuare Jungle employee clarified our mistake -- we were to have turned left from the town of Bomba, not the gas station! We had driven more than an hour out of our way, but it wasn't all bad news: not only had we taken beautiful photos of the bamboo, but we managed to schedule a white-water tubing adventure for the following Monday.

Doubling back, we made quick time to the Ranch Cedar Valley canopy tour. We arrived just in time to strap up for an upcoming tour and, mounting one of the company's open-sided vehicles, we began traveling to our location. Looking around me, I took in the river view, nesting Montezuma oropendola, and the fire-red poison dart frogs by the roadside.

We pulled to a stop, and I pointed out several of the frogs to Vincent. Unlike many canopy tours, this one was full of life -- strawberry poison dart frogs, blue jeans dart frogs and green-and-black dart frogs hopped along the path. As we climbed upward to the first canopy platform, I raised my eyes to the trees where birds and squirrels played in the morning heat.

The canopy tour consisted of eight cables and ten platforms. The longest cable measured 1,640 feet long and 328 feet high, and it was FAST. In fact, the entire canopy tour was fast and furious fun from start to finish, but the tour's experienced staff and simple braking system made sure that we stopped before crashing into each platform. Our fun was only enhanced by wildlife spotting, which included sunning iguanas, howler monkeys and hawks roosting in the trees above.

After we completed the eighth cable, my group marched back to home base. Leaving me with my book, Vincent went out to take photos of the river and poison dart frogs, but after several hours of grudgingly holding back, the skies opened up and torrents of rain rushed down. Our outing was clearly over, so we returned to Puerto Viejo for a very late lunch and some rest.

Day 3: Getting Lost Isn't So Bad in Pictures