Finalmente Pura Vida!
Trip Start Oct 01, 2011
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La Fortuna, Cost Rica
La Fortuna is most definitely worth the visit. The cost from San Jose to La Fortuna was ~8USD. We climbed through the mountains surrounded by rich rainforest foliage and fruit trees. Reading through our guide book we knew that Volcan Arenal was the main attraction of this area, along with the hot spring that abound nearby. We checked into a very comfortable hostel called La Posada Inn. It was a great place with a tranquil garden where you could sit in the open kitchen and admire the beauty of trees, ants, beetles and fruit trees
Rodrigo and I walked with Elaine (a friendly woman who worked at the hostel) to the River of La Fortuna. It was a crystal clear river off the road lined by rainforest and cradled between boulders that created several waterfalls and a distinct swimming hole all on the backdrop of Volcan Arenal. Right in the middle of the hole hangs a rope tied 6 meters in a tree. Locals come to this spot to swim in the middle of the day when the sun is the hottest. People take turns climbing, swinging and jumping into the picturesque swimming hole. On the boulders young men simultaneously hang lines in the waterfall to take home the catch of the day. We each jumped and explored the boulders up and around the waterfall. The sun shined in through the canopy of the rainforest warming the rocks and our pale Alaskan skin. All afternoon we played and even made a friend.
Emanuel was born in La Fortuna. He knew the entire place like one knows their old home stomping ground. He took us on a walk through the forest we saw 3 different frog species, ate from a guava tree, saw horses and admired the intricate green and wood architecture of the rainforest. This place was exactly what we needed to start our adventure and ended up being our favourite.
Zipline Canopy Tour, La Fortuna
We couldn't pass up swinging across meters of cable high through the Costa Rican canopy. We signed up on an impulse for a good price with Parque Ecologico La Fortuna. The company was professional and I felt safe throughout the adventure. We climbed for 20 minutes via tractor and walked 10 more minutes to reach the first platform. There were 12 cables strung through the park with minimal disturbance to the wildlife. We were hooked on one by one onto each cable high up in the canopy and as we laid back with our legs up we jetted across the cable with birds eye view of the mountain sides, forest canopy and the very breath taking La Fortuna Waterfall. I heard one of the girls say she understands more what it is like to be a bird. I felt the same way.
The longest cable was 980m in length you had to make sure you did not brake (brake was a simple leather mitten which you held onto the cable with and pulled to stop) or you could stop without reaching the other platform. If this did happen you would have to climb (think of scenes from cliffhanger). Rodrigo had no problem slowing down because of course the more you weigh the faster you go. I slowed down a fair bit but never to a complete stop although I kind of wanted to. On the second to last cable the sky closed up and poured tropical rain down
At the end of the zip lining we were invited to visit a typical Maleku (indigenous Costa Rican culture) dwelling that was staged for us to learn about their culture. Inside the tree and palm structure was a fire that was constantly burning and two Maleku Indians who spoke about their customs and traditional way of life including sharing their language. The Maleku people live from their agriculture and artesan artwork that they sell to tourists. In recent years they have had little respect and or support from the Costa Rican Government and constantly face the challenge of loosing their land to modern Costa Rican's without any compensation. Their peaceful demeanor and beautiful artwork should be valued by the people and conserved for future generations.
We ended the tour by riding down the mountain on horses. Rodrigo was really excited about riding his own horse and I was too. We were introduced to our horses and happily got to know them. We started the walk off slowly. It was so different to maneuver a horse vs a car
Baldi Hot Springs
Since we knew we would be leaving the next day we needed to fit in a visit to the infamous Baldi Hot Springs. These hot springs feature 25 pools with 12 temperatures amongst exuberant waterfalls and tropical gardens that make you feel like you are in the Garden of Eden. We found the water slides a the top of the park and instead of treating the hot springs like a relaxation retreat we became young kids at a theme park. We through ourselves through all of the slides until we went down slide #2 which we were told hurt. The workers were right. I was tossed up the side in the tube slide and landed uber hard on my butt, then immediately the high speed entrance to the water gave me an atomic wedgy. I don't recommend that slide (it burnt a whole in my bikini bottoms (note Victoria Secret doesn't make practical bikinis for adventurous women).
We spent the rest of the night visiting warm mineral waters of the romantic pools and playing in the beautifully constructed waterfalls
Today we have returned to San Jose. This is our stop over before Matapalo where we will be volunteering with ASVO on Sea Turtle Conservation. ASVO is a non government non profit who's focus is Wildlife Conservation and Management through Education. I am excited for Rodrigo to see his first Sea Turtle and enjoy working and supporting organizations like ASVO.
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