Costa Rica, Day Eight: August 22, 2014
A “Rest-Up” Day after Arenal Volcano
We spent a leisurely morning checking the internet and email. In the early afternoon, we got a snorkel trip lined up for Sunday.
Then we set out to find Playa Hermosa. Not too exciting. When we found the beach, an aging hippy materialized from nowhere and demanded money to park on “his beach” so we just left.
When we first came down, I wanted only carryon baggage because our flight times were so tight and there wasn’t much time in New York to get from one terminal to another. I also hate paying checked baggage fees! JetBlue doesn’t have them but our flight from DC to NYC does. So…we didn’t bring some stuff we would normally bring to a place like this, like snorkel, mask and especially fins.
There is no way I will use a snorkel they provide as a loaner. I’m ok with mask and fins but not snorkel. So, we spent the rest of the afternoon in dive shops around looking for two snorkels. The price we paid for those was more than we would have paid for the checked baggage to bring ours from home in. Oh, Well. There was still the time in the airport to consider.
Since it was a boring day, I’ll share some food info…
As I mentioned earlier, beans and rice is the basic variable in almost all Costa Rican cuisine. A typical meal is the casado, the name referring to the eternal “marriage” of its components. Consisting of rice and beans, meat or fish, fried plantains, and a carrot, tomato, and cabbage salad, this basic and well-rounded meal strikes a good nutritional balance.
The plantain, or plántano, is the typical Tico (Costa Rican) snack. It looks like a large banana, but can’t be eaten raw. It is sweet and delicious when fried or baked, and will often accompany most meals. When sliced thinly and deep fried, the plantain becomes a crunchy snack like potato chips.
Arroz is a dish of fried rice which may be offered with chicken (pollo) or shrimp (gambas). For breakfast, it is common to be served a hearty dish of black beans and rice (gallo pinto) seasoned with onions and peppers, accompanied by fried eggs, sour cream, and corn tortillas.
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.
The 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!