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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 Four: August 18, 2014

Palo Verde National Park.

Awake at 1:00 am to use newly restored iPad hotspot to do church work.

Up with the sun and hiked up the 4 flights of stairs to wait for the bus to pick up up at 7:00 am. We saw lots more damage from rocks falling in the night.

filadeflfiaWe rode for a couple hours until we reached the small town of Filadelfia. We waited outside the park for quite a while for 2 women and a young baby. They would accompany us for the rest of the trip.

On the way to our main event, we passed several soccer games and a LOT of sugar fields. We passed El Viejo Mill (Azucarera El Viejo, S.A), a Costa Rican company dedicated to growing sugar cane and sugar production. The company annually produces 50 thousand tons of sugar in the forms of raw, white, and special; by the industrial processing of half a million tonnes of cane grown by over 500 farmers in the Tempisque Basin. The sugar here in Costa Rica goes mainly to the Coca-Cola Company and for producing energy. I was very surprised that there was no rum production like in Barbados and other sugar-growing countries.

After many dirt roads, we stopped at the Palo Verde Restaurant and had juices and coffee while we waited for others to arrive. Since we were going to Palo Verde, I assumed (you know what they say about assuming!) we were close to beginning our trip. Well, no. Back on the busses. More narrow dirt roads.

Finally, we got to the Temique River and into our small boat. One of the women getting in commented to Michael that she had sat behind him in the plane from New York. Small world.

bats2Right off the bat (no pun intended!) we saw these weird little bats. They line up on a tree and pretend to be a snake, even moving slightly to simulate a snake writhing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

monkeyWe saw lots of white-faced capuchin monkeys – several came right inside the boat. The Capuchin monkey is named after the order of Capuchin friars – the cowls of these friars closely resemble the monkey’s head coloration. I’ll bet those friars are happy to hear this!

 

 

 

jclizardAlso, we saw Jesus Christ lizards, so nicknamed for their ability to run on water at an average speed of 8.4 km/h (or 5.2 mph), for about 10 to 20 meters.

We saw lots and lots of iguanas of various colors, in the trees, on the ground.

 

 

 

 

crocodileWe also saw something that looked like a hawk but were told it was a black vulture. We also saw blue heron, egrets, and of course, crocodiles. The crocks saw we were there and slowly circled our boat.

In the photos below, the guide is showing us a huge grasshopper with red underwings.

After our boat tour, we went back to the Palo Verde Restaurant for what is called a “tipical meal”. We had Casados (black beans and rice) with chicken, beef, salad, fried plantains, white cheese and corn tortilla. Casado, the name referring to the eternal “marriage” of the beans and rice.

A l-o-n-g bus ride and we were home again, ready to rest up for the next day!

My pictures:

 

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