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Nightlife in Drake Bay, Costa Rica, ain’t like London. Here, in the rainforest, it’s not the sound of club classics rocking the dancefloor, it’s the weird sounds of wildlife bringing the jungle to life. We hung out with Tracie, aka ‘the bug lady‘, an awesome story teller, and her husband John, an eagle-eyed wildlife spotter.

Our tour with these two critter-loving entymologists was like being in a live action version of a cutting edge nature documentary such as Planet Earth or Life. Tracie is an incredible fount of knowledge, and has horrifying tales of badass bug encounters as well as the weirder side of wildlife – all delivered in her impossibly laid back drawl. John was the first person on the penisula to identify the elusive trap-door spider, and is a hoot at mimicking frog mating calls – he had the lady frogs literally begging him to take their phone numbers in this strangest of natural night clubs.

Here, we couldn’t wear the kind of glad rags we’d don for night out in the city. It was insect bite-repelling shirts (biting gnats, mosquitoes, biting flies, etc), rubber boots (snake-proof) and headlamps (a magnet for every insect in the jungle), and set off into the forest in search of frogs, beetles and stick insects. We found them, and how – but we also encountered far more dangerous creatures.

The tour kicked off at nightfall with a silent, eerie paddle across a river. In pitch, as we knifed slowly through the water, our torchbeams picked out the menacing red glow of saltwater crocodiles – there were loads of them. And we were wearing bug sprayas we rode the thinnest, shallowest of canoes. I could bite throuh them, let alone a hungry, killer croc. Later, we had close run-ins with hairy jumpy aggresive spiders, and nasty-looking snakes. It was great fun.

Thankfully, we lived to tell the tale, and share some pics with you. Here they are. It’s a jungle out there, make sure you take a torch.

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Bit of silliness from our hike around the Rincon de la Vieja volcano in Costa Rica yesterday.

Around the park, sulphur pits, steam vents, boiling hot pools and bubbling mud baths give the landscape a sci-fi edge.

Different kinds of forest – from dry to virgin cloud to rain – lay all around supporting a startling diversity of flora and fauna.

It was crowd-free, which I gather is a rarity in Costa Rica, so we had the place to ourselves more or less – ‘mas o menos’.

Monkeys threw sticks at us, kingsnakes hissed at us, and toucans croaked in our general direction. Good times!

This ash thing in the UK is hilarious. Ah, a country, its media and its politicians always need to manufacture a crisis (bird flu, swine flu, maybe gerbil next) – and here’s a big grey one landed in their lap. I can almost sense their exhilhiration from here – their uncalloused, sweaty sausage fingers rubbing together in glee, their booze-swollen spongey noses twitching excitedly as they sniff out some new twist every day.

In the jungle I’m on a news blackout, so I heard the news from locals in Sarteneja in north Belize. Over here, even the Spanish-speaking guys speak ‘Henglish’ with a Caribbean haccent. So they when we learned of the Icelandic ‘hash’ grounding everyone, I thought it was the promising beginning of some laid back new era. Initially we thought that a kind of psychedelic cosmic event had caused an entire continent to suddenly snap to its senses and get stoned as one, making the whole concept of travel pointless – and also terrifying.

If so, the media would have unlimited crises to stoke up, as a hashed-up nation could be easily spooked. You could run scare stories, for instance,  about 24 hour garages shutting down, thus making urgent access to munchies and cigarette papers limited.

Having looked at the BBC news website only once or maybe twice the whole trip so far, the daily freakout passes me by – the news vulture flys by toward a pile of reader carrion whose nerves it can better gnaw on.

The President flies to Earth's rescue

Bless wee Willie Winy Walsh, hurling himself into the cloud, like the President of the USA of America in that corniest of popcorn flicks, Independence Day. Why the hell didn’t big Gordy Brown jump into a silver cat suit with red lightning flashes and jet into the heavens in a rocket-powered jumbo jet screeching Bible passages back to Earth via live satellite feed – crazed Earth saviour, David Icke, could have piloted him into the heavens. Surely, our political leadership couldn’t get any dafter than it already is. Big opportunity missed there, Gordy, and in an election year.

Aye it’s like Hell, in a way, being held in the grip of constant crises, the way the politicos like it fine enough. Fir me, it was a different kind of hell today – we went through the gates of the Mayan underworld.

Swimming into the underworld, in 'ATM' cave

Unlike being roasted over the devil’s bbq in the fiery pits, the Mayan underworld is cool, oh so cool, and an incredible respite from the oppressive, heat and humidity of the Belizean jungle. The entrance to the great Jaguar god’s kingdom is through Actun Tunichil Muknal cave, where we waded, swam and climbed through the 9 levels of darkness.

Here, we crawled and clambered back 5km through a rock, and hundreds of years through time, trancing out in our swaying torchbeams in the dark, and the Mayan shaman rituals and sacrifices to the great, dark god that sprang up in our imagination.

The Jaguar God awaits you

Anyway, it’s morning now, and as I plug this into the old jungle mojo wire (blog), the forest is screeching and the sun is rising. Another hot one in front of us and 6 hours of rickety old buses on dirt tracks criss-crosing the country.

Ah well, it’s a fine enough way to spend the day. As for you Britain, hang in there – get some hash goggles and stock up on munchies.