The joy of public transportation

Trip Start Jan 09, 2007
Trip End Jan 17, 2007

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Our plan had been to wake at 7, pack, shower, and head to Arenal to explore the volcano. Wende still had a hurt knee and she did not feel she could climb a volcano today, so we slept a bit longer.  We wake ad mill about finding quite strong coffee to which I promptly add salt.  Eventually I get it right and Gwyn studies Spanish while I take pictures and have a smoke.
I am a sucker for kids and animals, so I shoot he little girl (Jimena) who lives at the hostel (I presume it is run by her parents) and attempt to find the orange tabby (No Name Gata) I saw last night.  She has mysteriously disappeared.
We pack and arrange to be picked up by a taxi.  t arrives 3 min later and we have another amusement park style ride to the terminal. We could not figure out why on Earth the bus to Fortuna took 4 hours when the map showed it to be relatively close.  Once we were underway, we were enlightened.  The bus stops frequently to pick up more passengers, pulls over to let cars pass through the switchbacks, and has to take its turn on the one lane bridges.  We stopped what felt like every half mile.
I usually travel with the mindset that I am a guest in the land I am visiting.  I try to be polite, unassuming, and undemanding as possible.  I want to draw as little attention to myself as I ca with  a pack on my back.  The people here seem thus far to be so incredibly helpful!  They have gone out of their way to make us comfortable.  I is almost...uncomfortable.  May I have the grace to receive.

We arrive in Fortuna, Internet, find me a lighter and diet coke (coca lite) and Wende a spendy phone card.  She has to call ASU to figure out why they´ve yet to give her money.  Again, out hotel helpfully sends a vehicle to fetch us from the city center.  Our driver is Miguel and he wants to know why we are so late coming to his town.  There is much to see, he says, and we are staying only one night.

He wants to know our plans and we mention climbing the volcano (Arenal).  He tells us that in 16 years no one has said this.  We find this hard to believe as we´ve read all about it and spoken to several other travelers who have had this experience.  We leave out bags outside and check in.  Walking to our room, I am suddenly under attack from myriad biting ants.  I chuck my bags and scamper off to the bathroom to strip and brush off.  I am remembering the rain forest now....

For the evening, we decide on the Baldi Hot Springs.  Again, transportation is provided by Miguel who gives us various repeated tidbits of information about Fortuna and The Volcano Arenal.  Arenal erupts often.  It is the worlds second most active volcano.  The last devastating eruption was July 29, 1968, when two towns were demolished in a matter of 3 minutes.  A second peak was formed at this time.  The rescuers came to help and it erupted again, killing all of them. 

At the hot springs, Miguel walks us to our table and seats us with menus for supper.  Wende has the "typical beef plate" and I opt for the chicken fajitas.  After food we put on our swimsuits and start off.  There are about 10 pools around the facility with water ranging form 93F to 152F.  Not surprisingly the 152F pool is vacant.
We find our preferred pool at 116F.  It is mostly unoccupied and there are no children.  There are two pools of cool water within the hot pool, so when I start getting overheated I am able to quickly cool off.  We also found a completely dark, desolate waterfall that flows with hot water and a bit further a quite fake attempt at a Mayan pyramid.

Miguel comes to pick us up at 10 and we get another cooks tour back to our room.  He insists we master the phrase "Pura Vida" meaning Pure Life, the motto of Costa Rica.
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