Day 8: La Fortuna and rafting on Rio Arenal

Trip Start Mar 05, 2005
Trip End Mar 20, 2005

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Saturday, March 12, 2005

The next morning, we awoke on the early side, and I discovered with dismay that my "Eau de DEET" had failed me during the night and I was covered in mosquito bites. Oh well, at least La Fortuna wasn't in a malaria risk zone.

We'd been scheduled to go whitewater rafting that morning. Due to a scheduling glitch with the rafting company, our trip got moved to the afternoon, leaving us the morning free. We walked into town for some breakfast, and mostly just bummed around La Fortuna browsing for souvenirs and exploring. The weather was rainy and chilly, and we got soaked a few times by downpours. But the saying "if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes" applies nicely to Costa Rica, so we mainly just ducked for cover when the rain started to come down.

After a light lunch, the four of us who'd signed up for the rafting headed out to Rio Arenal, which is considered level 2/3 in terms of the difficulty of the rapids (easy to intermediate). Upon arrival we discovered we would actually be using whitewater kayaks instead of rafts. Since it was dry season, the water level in the river was very low, meaning that it would be very rocky and kayaks would be easier than rafts to navigate. Or so we were told.

The guides briefly explained the basics of whitewater kayaking. Despite trying to convince us that it was easy, nobody was all that eager to go solo. In the end, we went out in three boats. Cathy and I went with Juan, one of the guides. Noella went with another guide. And Mandy nervously took the solo boat. We suited up in our life jackets and took off.

While parts of the river were quite tame, the adrenaline did get going in a few spots where the rapids were swifter. We were soon glad we had the guide in our boat, as it was indeed tricky to navigate through the rocks without getting stuck.

Though it was raining, the river was warm, since its water flowed from the volcano springs. We went swimming in a few places - sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose. We also switched boats on the river, each taking a turn in the solo boat. I freely admit I was the worst at it by far, getting stuck in the rocks so often that the guide grew tired of rescuing me and told me to get back into one of the other boats. Oh well, I guess we all have different talents. Despite the difficulties, going at it alone was thrilling, and the kayak trip went down as another definite trip highlight.

After the rafting was over, we were served food and then headed back to La Fortuna. We'd been scheduled to go on the volcano hike that afternoon, but we arrived back into town over two hours late. The rest of the group had been waiting for us, wondering where we were, and they were pretty upset - understandably so. Nobody really felt like going on a hike in the dark. After some intervention by Julie, we rescheduled the volcano hike for the next afternoon.

We went for a nice Italian dinner with the group that evening. After dinner, a few of us girls decided to go out dancing, to a club called Volcano Look.

Well, there wasn't much of a volcano view from the club that we saw, but there was a nice view of plenty of Tico guys looking to dance with female tourists. Whatever else, those guys could really dance, and we all had a good time. We were all exhausted, so we didn't stay too long. The club had still not really gotten going when we left to head back to town and the hotel to sleep.

Next: Horseback ride to waterfall and volcano hike.
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