Packed to the Brim Adventure Day - Late Afternoon

Trip Start May 07, 2010
Trip End May 16, 2010

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Guanacaste,
Sunday, May 9, 2010

As I was saying in the previous entry, we had just arrived at the hotel lobby when our next shuttle arrived to pick us up for our hike around Volcan Arenal.  The goals were to examine the flora/flaura around the volcano and eventually capture a glimpse of the lava flow (one of the top 3 things to do in Costa Rica by the way).  We did a quick change of clothing, stuffed a couple of bottles of water in the day pack, and met our hiking group down in the lobby.  Talk about a motley crew.  The group consisted of:

- Rachel (from Boston) and friend from Belgium who were studying in Costa Rica; their Spanish was impeccable;
- the 2 women from Ohio who were glad to be with a seemingly young group of people;
- the guy from Boston who we later met up with at the Baldi Hot Springs resort;
- Evelyn from Germany, who broke away from her original tour group to explore Costa Rica solo... brave woman;
- and the two goof balls (myself and Rowena) from Los Angeles.

Jason was our guide for this part of the tour (same tour company).  The ladies in the group immediately developed an affection towards him and proclaimed his new name as Don Juan. LOL.  It was quite amusing and Jason handled it with graceful strides.  Jason started off our hike with a brief introduction of the volcano's history:

Volcan Arenal is the youngest and most active volcano in Costa Rica.  In 1968 it experienced a major eruption after laying dormant for 400 years.  It's sudden and violent eruption affected 3 small villages: Tabacon, Pueblo Nuevo, and San Luis, killing 87 people.  The only village not affected was situated on the other side of the volcano... yep, La Fortuna, or the fortunate ones.  Hotels around the volcano are situated safely away though there are hiking trails that can take you dangerously close to the volcano.

Travel Tip: One cannot see lava flow from the hotels situated in La Fortuna as lava is spewed on the other side.  La Fortuna, however, has the restaurants and bars, and provides a good deal of entertainment.

Along our hike (a good distance away), Jason intelligently commented on the flora and knew a bit about the local birds found in the area.  Nearing the end of the hike, at about 6PM, we hopped back into the shuttle van and relocated to a bridge a few kilometers away, situating ourselves to view the spewing lava.  Personally, I felt it was quite uneventful and was more intrigued at the changing weather patterns (from light rain mist to rain) and the wonderful color changes occurring in the evening skies.  After a few minutes, we, along with a number of other tour groups, were fortunate enough to see lava flow from a distance.  To me, it resembled a failed red sky rocket exploding horizontally along the horizon.  Can you detect my enthusiasm? :)

As night crept in, the weather deteriorated to include rain, and we all eventually snuck back into the shuttle van.  From there, some of us who had paid to see a hot springs resort (there were several resorts in the area with varying price tags) were shuttled off to our next destinations.  Rowena and I had picked the Baldi Hot Springs resort along with the man from Boston.  The Baldi Hot Springs resort was essentially a water park (albeit a nice water park) consisting of man-made pools and aquatic bars, landscaped with local flora.  The resort was rather nice in a water park sort of way, but honestly, it just wasn't my thing.  I thought it was rather "unnecessary" since the surrounding natural area was much more beautiful.  I was secretly hoping that it was 'natural' hot springs.  Plus beers at that place were about US$7/bottle!  Yikes!

As soon as we arrived at the resort, Rowena and I had an unremarkable dinner at their buffet and proceeded to the pools.  Each pool had its own unique temperature and some butted against bars.  Rowena and I chose to sit in one of the hotter, more isolated pools, reminiscing about the day and relaxing our tired muscles.  Regardless of my personal opinions about the place, we did manage to enjoy ourselves.  At 9:45PM, Jason and Giovanni (the same driver from the kayaking tour coincidentally) took us back to our hotel.  Once again, filled to the brim with the joys of life, we turned out the lights.  What a great, action filled, engaging day...

To recap, on this single day, we had started our kayaking adventure at 7AM-11AM, had lunch, hiked from 3PM-6PM, went to the hot springs from 7PM-9:45PM, then back to the hotel. 
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excitethesoul on

I thought I'd add a correction to this blog entry here. Evelyn had graciously sent an email to Rowena regarding her details and noted she hadn't been on a tour group:

"Evelyn did not have an original tour group. I think it comes as I probably mentioned that I was in La Fortuna on May7th with a day-trip-group from San Jose. You know one of these day-trips where they pick up people from different hotels and then drove to La Fortuna, went to the hot springs, the volcano-lookout (bridge) and had great lunch&dinner, back to San Jose in the evening.
Then all by myself again."

Regardless, she is still an adventurous person in my book doing all this by herself. Awesome!

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