August 16, 2009
With giant ferns, looks are deceiving. What appear to be tree trunks are actually decomposed plant parts. If you touch one, it feels like dirt rather than wood. This “trunk” made of decayed organic matter protects and supports the palm tree-like fronds that sprout up from the top. Clever and resourceful beings.
Our giant fern cloud forest hiking group of six turned out to be a group of three. Except for the increase in cost, smaller was probably better. After stocking up on food for lunch, we took a cab to a spot where we would begin our hike. The giant fern cloud forest is located in Amboró National Park, a huge park that covers an area where the Andes, Chaco, and Amazon Basin ecosystems converge.
The scenery was new, but it was like the other hikes I’d done on the trip- unexpectedly challenging. Though we were at a lower elevation, we were still relatively high up. My lungs still struggled with the thin air. And it was incredibly muddy. The sun was bright and shining that day, but thick vegetation often didn’t allow many of its rays to poke through and dry up the ground. So I slipped and slided down slopes and tried to hold onto the few plants around that were stable and not prickly.
If I understood him correctly, our guide was a university science professor who led tours in his time off. He had a lot of interesting information about the inhabitants of the forest. We saw only one other group the entire day. Our guide told us he’d led a hike earlier in the summer and came across a group of people who were lost in the forest. They were hiking without a guide. When he found them, they were delirious because of their predicament.
After a muddy struggle, we reached the top of the mountain I wasn’t aware we were climbing. There was yet another panoramic view of beautiful mountainous landscape. We perched on the edge to eat lunch, the most amazing spot to eat our random assortment of snack foods.
Our guide eventually convinced us to leave our prime lunch location so we could walk back down the mountain. We took a different route down that was much quicker and had no slippery slopes.
I went to dinner with the English girl and the two Australian sisters. We all talked about making it an early night to get some rest. But as we walked back to the hostel, someone greeted us with, “Ola,” in a thick German accent. This changed the course of our night.
We soon found ourselves at a club down the street hanging out with a group of German guys. Three of them seemed to be in their twenties. There was one older guy that the rest of them referred to as “Papi”. Papi had clearly gotten his night started early and I’m being generous when I describe him as “boisterous”. These guys were full of crazy stories. When they were out of earshot, the English girl let us know she didn’t believe a word they said. She was probably right.
They left to put Papi to bed and head to another bar. We stayed behind to dance to reggaeton and agreed to meet them wherever they were going next. But we couldn’t find it. We found another happening club where couples were dancing away to style of music similar to salsa.
As we entered the dance floor and moved to our own beats, we literally cleared dance floor. People stopped dancing and sat back to watch us. Maybe they did not want to share the dance floor with people dancing as awfully as we were. Maybe they wanted a free comedy show. “Look at those tourists!”
After a good dance workout we decided to head back to the first club to see what was going on. We danced to a few more reggaeton hits before ending our free tourist spectacle. A truly entertaining night for all parties involved.