Arenal Volcano

Trip Start Aug 15, 2008
Trip End ??? ??, 2009

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Guanacaste,
Friday, August 29, 2008

Mine and Naomi's final excursion was to Arenal National reserve.

On deciding that it made more sense to travel there independently due to time restraints (we were leaving Costa Rica the next day) I booked a hire car with Thifty.

We arrived at the downtown branch in San Jose at 12pm - please note the time. On commencing the universal paperwork associated with hiring a car, I noted that my bank card, which was earlier held in my trouser pocket, was now missing. This would have been more of a concern if it had not been for the fact that the taxi driver who drove us to Thifty was a friend of Yoleena. After a quick call it was confirmed that the driver indeed had it, though it turns out that unfortunately for us we caught him just after his drink, drug and prostitution binge - just kidding.
Once that hiccup had been overcome Thifty then decided to keep us waiting for 45 minutes whilst they found a car for us - a problem that would soon arise again in LA, but that's another story. When the car eventually arrived, we equipped it with the much needed SAT NAV in preparation for the journey and set off into the torrent of traffic that is San Jose.
It was decided prior to driving that Naomi would take the reigns when it came to the driving because firstly she speaks Spanish and can read the road signs and secondly she has experience of driving on the right hand side.
The first 10 minutes started surprisingly well, until that is, the SAT NAV decides to fail on us. So here we now unable to travel to our destination, but worse still unable to return to hire centre as the only map we have of the city is held on the bloody SAT NAV, that is now not working!
After near on two hours of driving around mad San Jose, performing illegal u-turns, going down one way streets - the wrong way, being honked at, we decided that it would make sense to flag down a passing taxi and pay for him to chaperon us back to Thifty where the bollocking would commence. Being two people of outstanding intelligence the whole flagging down the taxi thing should have occurred sooner, but hey hindsight is a great thing.
Now you would have thought that Thifty would have bent over backwards by doing anything in their powers to apologise for the inconvenience caused, but oh no. They were hardly willing to recompense us and very lackadaisical in getting us a new car or SAT NAV. It turns out that the little compensation we did receive was useful but still too little too late; we finally left San Jose at 3pm.
If the CEO of Thifty is out there reading this and wants me to remove the aforementioned bad press, please drop me a line and we will talk figures.

The journey to Arenal was very adventurous. With it raining pretty much every afternoon in Costa Rica it was highly likely that our drive would succumb to some downpour sooner or later - as you can see from one of the posted video's we were not left dossapointed. Naomi rode out the storm well and eventually we were in the central highlands enjoying the scenery and close to our final destination.

As you can see form the pictures, the volcano is a large outcrop and as such there are many places to stay around the base of it, we decided to stay at a Hotel aptly named Hotel Vista for its incredible view.
Now the reason why the volcano is such a tourist attraction is that it is one of only few active volcanos in Costa Rica that has lava flowing from its summit every day.
Now I would like to palm off the next descriptive paragraph as my own but unfortunately I would be lying, but I believe the description sums up the natural phenomenon better than my words would allow.....and as we are on the subject of coming clean I must admit that the photo of the summit spewing lava also isn't mine - my camera is not that good:

A trip to see the lava flows and eruptions of Arenal Volcano is one of Costa Rica's most popular excursions. As darkness cloaks the region, the dust plumes that skirted down the bare slopes through the day reveal themselves to be glowing lava tumbling, crashing and smashing down the volcano slopes in a spray of natural fireworks. The sight is spectacular and the sound decidedly eerie. Arenal is a classic Stromboli-type startovolcano, creating a symmetrical cone formed by layers of volcanic material. It is the youngest of the stratovolcanoes in Costa Rica with no rock more than 2,900 years old.

When we arrived in the evening there was much cloud surrounding the summit and we saw some but very little lava. We were informed by the hotel staff that the weather at the mount changes frequently and so Naomi took it upon herself to set her alarm at intermittent stages throughout the night to catch a glimpse of the spewing lava. Now though I had the best intention of waking up at 3, 3.30, 4.00 and 4.30 I could not manage it though I was informed later by my other half that the view changed little from the night before.

On our return from Arenal we stopped off at Baldi thermal reserve for a couple of hours where we bathed and relaxed during the intermittent scolding of some of the thermal baths.
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