Tuesday, March 2, 2010

COSTA RICA Day 4: More Volcano (Martes)

The Arenal volcano dominates the landscape in this part of the country, so we felt obligated to do some exploring at the Arenal Volcano National Park. No one is allowed to hike on the volcano, something to do with the fact that it’s active and magma burns, so we were kept a “safe” distance away. Some hikers did apparently try, and die, back in 2000.

The trails around the volcano were a mix of rain forest and walking on lava rock. Unfortunately, there were a few tour groups in the area at the same time, so we never could escape the masses. One trail, I’ll call “Broken Hip” was a steep climb up broken lava rock. I call it Broken Hip because hordes of tourists—old tourists—were trying to scramble up and down the rocks. I had to hold my breath sometimes while watching these people. I’ll give them credit for not sitting back in their rocking chairs, but yikes. I did see one woman go down, but she seemed to bounce back up. Hardy foreigners. An American, I would guess, would lie there waiting for a helicopter and a lawyer. 

Anyway, the tourists did provide some interesting visuals, but they were also, unfortunately, loud. While walking on one of the trails in the forest, we were behind a group of about 20 who sounded like they were all trying to stomp on grapes and talk to each other with their hearing aids off. And they wondered why they didn’t get to see any wildlife.

After our sojourn around the volcano trails, we hit the road on the north side of Laguna de Arenal. This TWISTY narrow road had a full-on traffic jam as some large trucks and tour busses—going in opposite directions—had to do some very creative maneuvering to get by. Once past that jam, it was smooth sailing in the BeGo, passing strangle little critters on the side of the road, until we hit Nuevo Arenal. 

We stopped in this little lake-side village, for, of course, some German food. Sauerbraten anyone? Filled with meat and dumplings, we made our way back along the narrow, twisty road, pushing the BeGo like a finely tuned racing machine, back to Fortuna for another delicious coffee at the Gecko Gourmet and finally back to the hotel for more hot springs relaxation. Ah….

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