Costa Rica: Town, Cloud Forest and Volcano


The small town of Bagaces, Costa Rica, is a pleasantly relaxed place.

However, try not to get stuck there on Good Friday. It’s a major holiday, making the buses few and far between. Scant travel options was something we discovered that very day, by waiting on at the edge of town for several hours in the heat. I did not take a photo there, as it was nothing to see, but we got to know a street-side bus stop quite well. Finally, we crossed the street and hailed down a bus going the opposite direction, just to get out of Bagaces. The driver overcharged us because he could see our desperation and we ended up in the city of Liberia.

Upon entrance to the bus terminal in Liberia, we were hot, sweaty, disgruntled, and wanted to get out. A bus was leaving soon enough for Playas del Cocos, a destination of which we had no knowledge,  but decided to take a chance.


And it wasn’t so bad.


We met a man from Montreal who relocated to Cocos and ran a Lebanese food stand in town. He instructed us to walk along the rock formations to a secluded white-sand area. There we went very early in the morning.


Though it was an enjoyable, spontaneous time, Playas los Cocos is not somewhere I’d recommend ending up on Good Friday, either. It’s apparently a huge vacation spot for people who live in Costa Rica, which is fun and festive, but accommodations are scarce and prices are inflated.

At least the place we stayed had a cat, Cleopatra.


The place we stayed at in Monteverde the next night was more worth it–given this was the view outside the balcony. At night, I even noticed an armadillo scrambling around the ground.

Of course it’s not about just staying at the  that’s not the best open view of the trees.


Naturally, climbing up into the hills to watch the sunset is more worthwhile than hanging at the guest house.


Some of the establishments, like this art camp, display intriguing little structures that play on capabilities of human creativity with nature. Like this gazebo, which resembles trees, and is made out of trees.


Even better, of course, are trees that haven’t been re-appropriated to show trees. At the Tropical Cloud Forest, life is abundant, but sometimes difficult to notice in the lush density of flora.


Look up, and it’s the same tangled case.

Note: watch out for Spider Monkeys atop. They tend to throw down strange items when they are eating.


Or, for falling trees.


At a mountain in the clouds, elevated water vapor must go through a physical reaction, thus fall, at some point.

After Monteverde, we journeyed by van to boat to van to La Fortuna.


Finally in La Fortuna, several journeys presented themselves within, for instance, upwards on a volcano.


Some of the mud was rather clay-like.

This part was through pasture lands lined by flowery bushes, with cows grazing and butterflies flapping throughout. Occasionally, we’d pause by a guided tour group observing intriguing cases of ecological niche phenomena to listen in on some information–such as ants carrying pieces of leaves or flowers to create fungal concoctions for their colonies’ functions.


That open part was steep, but the real challenge came up the muddy, more root-covered area toward the top.

IMG_1234[1]Then it was a toppling time down.

Sumatra Landscapes

This is from the ferry across Lake Toba to Samosir Island. The journey did not start here, however, as it was preceded by a five-hour bus ride and flight into Medan. However, things became quite relaxing at this instance, at the largest volcanic lake in the world.

We ventured out around the island one day. Rice fields are abundant as ever.

Some wetter than others.

In these parts, washing machines are uncommon and dryers barely used. Many wash their clothes right in the lake and dry them to the breeze. It creates the fresh touch from the lake-fresh wind and water, a result that detergent and fabric softener designers often attempt to replicate in their products.

Some goats roam around, but others remained tied to the traditional Batak houses.

Heading uphill to see some cows roam.

View of a hill, from up another hill.

Yet more rice fields on Samosir Island, seen from an aerial view.

Dense concentration of trees. Hiking through this area is not too pleasant, as it’s full of vines and roots and mud, but there are nonetheless trees to temporarily calm the trekker.

The next stop was Berastagi, and we embarked on the main activity of the area, climbing Mount Sibayak, an active volcano.

Towards the hike up to the crater lake, everything starts smelling like sulfur. One can even pick up little yellow clusters of pure sulfur.

Two fumaroles around the crater’s edge. One can hear them steaming from about a mile away, and they sound like old cars driving around bends. It’s rather foggy due to the gas, so the visual component of the crater lake is not so apparent.

Total visibility of the scenery is not common, but is pleasant regardless.

We got lost on the way down, but ended up in a valley of greenery and misty peaks. The right way down ended up being through former metal steps that were mostly torn apart by mudslides, not to mention countless trees that had been uprooted and twisted in every direction over the once-designated hiking path.

In a land full of natural disasters and geologic wonders, one just has to stick to his or her primal instincts to make it down through the jungle.