Saturday and Sunday 4/19 and 4/20

Roger Withrington

At last the weekend and a couple of days free of thin paint! We had booked ahead to see Arenal Volcano, and spend the night in La Fortuna. And so it was that after the usual excellent breakfast, we picked up our lunches packed in neat cloth baggies and headed off down the road. What a journey it was on rough roads down to the lake into La Fortuna. The views were beautiful as the van wound its way along the rugged hillsides. We bounced along over rocks, potholes and parts of the road made slippery and muddy by rain over the last few days. However, the driver was very good and we made it to the lake without incident. The trip across and down Lake Arenal was equally splendid as we paralleled the shore and spotted egrets and some other birds. The last leg over the dam and down to LA Fortuna on a surfaced road was smooth.

Alas; Volcan Arenal was hrouded in clouds and La Fortuna was humid and wet. No to be deterred, we took a walk around town noting the beautiful gardens and spotting a restaurant and a bakery for dinner and breakfast to come. Back at the hotel we ate our packed lunches and then rested up for a couple of hours before the tour to Arenal that started at 3. After picking up some additional people, we headed round from the East to the west side of the volcano where the 1968 and subsequent eruptions devastated the village of Arenal. Entering the Arenal Preserve, our driver spotted some toucans and our guide stopped the bus for us to have a good look. Thus started the spotting game as we headed to our destination that was a sclose to the volcano as allowed (about 2 kms). Our guide gave us a good history of it’s volcanic activity and then took us on a trek through the rainforest. He was very knowledgeable and ew saw many more birds, spider monkeys and plants including the traveling palm. We then headed for the best location for viewing volcanic activity and waited patiently for the sun to go down so we could see the expulsion and flow of red hot lava. Alas, the cloud teased us by rising up and falling back around the mountain. However, Anita refused to give up and obstinacy paid off as we saw a trickle red run below the clouds for a few seconds. That lava flowed so low emphasized the danger of the volcano for us.

The tour ended with a visit to the hot springs at Baldi. Dave, Roger and Anita downed their bathing suits and enjoyed the luxury of the different pools and waterfalls, all at different temperatures. We resisted the temptation of bars in set-up to serve drinks in some of the pools and finally caught a taxi back to the Choza Inn. We had a good beer and dinner at the Cascade restaurant. Then fully relaxed, hit the sack hoping for a clear on Sunday.

Alas!Alas! It’s Sunday morning, it is pouring with rain and the clouds are even lower. So, having common thoughts, we decided to take the early bus back to Sta. Elena and enjoy the afternoon there. The rain eased off as Sally, Anita and Roger headed to the bakery where we bought freshly baked cheese breads, croissants, empanadas and juice for breakfast. Then it was the return trip, just as adventurous as the previous day’s. The boat trip was longer as the pilot and guide went into some coves and did some extra bird spotting for us, while taking up the time for vans to come down to the lake on the Sta. Elena side. The ride up the bumpy road was just as beautiful; had some extra muddy bits and we arrived back at our hotel by noon. How nice it was to have the wind back, and here the sun was shinning.

After a brief rest, we went into town for lunch and then had a most enjoyable hike in the reserve ecologica. We didn’t see much more wildlife, but the path was very picturesque with some good workouts, tangled tree formations and incredible armies of leaf cutter ants. Towards the end of the trail were some unusual plants-the one not to be touched as Dave found out to his detriment.

On the way back to the Hotel we had a delicious ice cream. Getting back just before 6, it was time to shower, have dinner and learn that Nia had a relaxing weekend puttering about and getting the things she needed to do out of the way.

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