Costa Rica, Day Seven: August 21, 2014

Volcán Arenal aka Arenal Volcano

A majorly early day, we had to be up the 4 flights of stairs by 6:45am. There is still no sign of anyone fixing the elevator. Our driver (Ernesto) and guide (Jorge) arrived just after 7:00 and we were off. We had 3 stops to pick up others. At the 3rd, there was a slight holdup since one of the women fell in the lobby. She turned out to be ok and sat behind us on the bus.

map-arenalThe total bus trip to Arenal was about 4 hours and I learned a LOT about the folks sitting behind us, including entire highschool dating scene.

We made a stop along the way at Aroma Tico in Tilaran for a bite to eat, then we were on our way again, always climbing up the steep roads.

Arenal volcano was dormant for hundreds of years but in 1968 it erupted unexpectedly, destroying the small town of Tabacón. Due to the eruption three more craters were created on the western flanks but only one of them still exists today. Since October 2010, Arenal’s volcanic activity appears to be decreasing and explosions have become rare, with no explosions reported after December 2010.

We finally arrived at our spot on the Arenal Volcano to hike through a bit of the rainforest/meadow. Tom said our hike was 2.5 kilometers (about 1.6 miles) – not so bad but it was all UP. It wouldn’t have been so bad for me, except someone had put in “stairs” for much of the way.

These stairs were made of the mud from the trail, held back with vertical pieces of metal, They were uneven height and many reached nearly to my knees so these were very hard for me to climb.

When we got to the top, our bus was waiting. We didn’t have to go back. HOORAY. There were other busses there letting people off to hike down. I wonder if that would be easier?

We went to lunch in La Fortuna and had another tipical meal, except we could choose the meat (or vegetarian) off the menu. I had pork chops along with the casado, plantains, salad, fried plantains, white cheese and corn tortilla. We all had rice pudding for desert. It was a wonderful meal and I was stuffed.

Next stop was the hot springs at Baldi Hot Springs.  There are 25 pools that are large and small, hot and cold with walking paths between them and beautiful landscaping.  We were here about 2 hours, then it was time to eat again.  I just wasn’t that hungry, although they had a fantastic buffet.  I had only onion soup, salad, roll, pineapple and a tiny piece of cake.

Then, the long, long ride home and sleep!

My pictures:

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Bird (or big insect!) nests

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The lava flow shows up fairly well in this picture

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Costa Rica, Day 5

Another early day. We got up for an 8 am pickup. Today we went out snorkeling on a sailboat and saw some dolphins.

We stopped by the marina and I got a tshirt then, I decided I wanted a hat with SPF 45 built in so I went back in for that. Then Tom decided he wanted a shirt. This time the credit card was declined. I guess they thought it was stolen by then. Luckily, I had a second card.

All this activity made us the last ones inboard. We had been first at the dock.

We sailed out a bit and ran into the dolphins. I got lucky on the pictures. I was just shooting and hoping some would jump up when the shutter went off.

The video below is not mine but similar to what we saw:

The crew came around with wonderful pineapple slices. Yummy!

We sailed by a small rock island covered with brown booby birds. The little islands came up with the shifting of the tectonic plates.

Then snorkeling/swimming. There was a small island with sargent major fish. We had seen those in Barbados.

After this we had a nice lunch of fish, rice, potato, yucca and carrots.

A bit of sailing around then back home. First thing was to call the bank and assure them that the card hadn’t been stolen, it was us making multiple small purchases.

Since we were already wet, we decided to go swimming. A nice dog came over and sat by me while I was reading. He even posed for the camera. I also tried to get a picture of a butterfly on a bush but I don’t think it came out too well.

After showers, we headed in to Quepos to find the ATM again.

Then off to dinner. Our friends from Thrifty were there so we joined then and heard the whole saga of the flat tire.

Back home and writing this…

Costa Rica, Day 1

Yesterday seems so long ago. We were in Virginia at 4 in the morning waiting for a cab.

The plane trip to Atlanta was uneventful but I had started having panic attacks the night before so a bit of Xanax helped.

On the next flight to Costa Rica, the Xanax had fully kicked in and I was asleep before takeoff. When I woke up, I thought we were landing.

Tom and I were seated across the aisle from one another which was ok but the woman to my left kept trying to talk to the man to tom’s right so I switched places with the man.

The young woman in the window seat made several bathroom runs. On the last one my tomato juice managed to spill on my white pants. Fast thinking from Tom got me some club soda and all was well. When the young woman got back I had the window seat,Tom was in the middle and she was on the aisle.

We got into San Juan and got our rental car. 2 others who were on Kirkland had bad luck with their car they had something smaller and it cost way more than ours so they were pretty unhappy. They were actually coming to the same place we are but a day later.

Thank goodness we got the GPS. We never would have found the place without it. We passed lots hikers in the road headed to San Juan. Turns out they were pilgrims headed to the cathedral for a very special holy day.

We got here and I posted last night’s balcony pictures.

Unpacked and had some wonderful food sent in for dinner. It was so good, chicken and rice, I could have it every day!

Today we went out for the orientation to see what was here. We had coffee and a fantastic juice mix of pineapple, banana, mango, guava and watermelon.

The person telling us about the place said there was an iguana here named Pancho who liked to hang out by the pool and sometimes swim. He recognized cameras and would pose nicely…but would chase you if you didn’t give him a tip of food. He likes hibiscus, especially.

A raccoon came by during the talk also.

We stayed in that same area for a nice breakfast. I had more of that juice mix.

Off for a shuttle to Quepos for groceries. I’m glad we took that. We never would have found the store. Thank goodness there were pictures on most of the products. My Spanish isn’t that great.

On the way back I took pictures of the “Oh, My God” bridge. It lives up to it’s name. Fortunately that’s being replaced.

Back home and to the pool. Then a long call to the states to clear up a little mess I’ll post about tomorrow when I have more energy.

Dinner at the place we got the takeout from. This time a Latin American grilled pork and pineapple. That restaurant is run by the same people who did breakfast. Just a different location.

No rum punch here so I’m trying lime ice tea and lime vodka. Not bad but I don’t think it will be a hit anywhere.

Bedtime soon. Hopefully tomorrow is more relaxing!