Jeep-Boat-Jeep to La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Trip Start Apr 26, 2006
Trip End Aug 01, 2006

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Where I stayed
Hotel Sleep Inn San Jose Downtown

Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The trip was advertised as "Jeep-Boat-Jeep", but it was more like "minivan-boat-minivan". Some of the landscape was wonderful to watch as high hills and valleys covered with forest made way for fields of cows and small lakes and rivers. The small boat that took us across the lake was empty and we enjoyed the view of the forest bordering the water on most sides.
When we arrived in La Fortuna we decided on accommodation at the Sleep Inn Hostel. Shane and I had been advised that it was a great place from a couple of Israeli blokes who we met climbing Volcan Baru in Panama. They were right. The Sleep Inn Hostel, near the centre of town, offers free internet access (if you can manage to get on to the one computer in the kitchen - fight tooth and nail if necessary), a decent kitchen, a hangout area and very nice rooms, some doubles with private bath and some dorm-style. The real reason why this hostel is so great is the amazing man who runs it. Carlos a.k.a. Mr. Lava Lava, as he has affectionately labeled himself, pretty much guarantees that you'll see lava flowing down the side of Volcan Arenal, the town's piece de resistance. He works tirelessly, driving his guests to and from the volcano and the hot springs at different times trying to make sure they get a proper sighting. He offered us a deal where he took us to the volcano and the Baldi hot springs for a decent price (Aprox. $20 US) and even drove us twice to the hot springs, once in the afternoon then again in the evening. It was wonderful and relaxing to lounge about in 8 pools of different temperatures, all heated by the volcano. It was quite luxurious for four cheap, tired, beaten and bruised backpackers! Mr. Lava Lava made true to his word and took us to the perfect spot to see the lava. We went up at 10pm, in the dark and from the right side (the lava flow shifts occasionally) you can see it flowing down. While Carlos stood with us and told us about the history and movement of the lava (occasionally patting himself on the back and erupting into a chorus of Shaggy's hit song), we watched in awe as liquid hot magma slowly seeped down.
The next night Carlos drove us to the entrance to the national park which protects the volcano. Our goal was to see fireworks again but alas, the rain had another plan for us. It poured from about 30 minutes after our arrival until about 10 minutes before we left. We didn't see the same display that we did the night before but we did catch a few rocks ejected out the top of Arenal and cascade down the side, bumping and crashing as they went. A nice couple from Quebec were nice enough to give us a ride to the main highway where good old Carlos picked us up in the rain and brought us back to the hostel.
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