La Fortuna

Trip Start Apr 19, 2014
Trip End May 19, 2014

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Guanacaste,
Saturday, May 3, 2014

We had an early departure from Monteverde so we were up fairly early. Pancakes and eggs for breakfast again today as we had another busy day ahead of us. We got loaded up in a van and made the 2 hour drive along the very rough roads to the shores of Lake Arenal. The views were pretty good along the drive. Once on the lake shore we transferred to a boat that took us across the lake. It was faster to travel by boat than by road. The weather was clear which gave us an incredible view of the Arenal volcano. Usually it is buried in the clouds and our tour leader said we were incredibly lucky as she has had many tour groups go through not knowing there was a volcano even there. Once across the lake we were transferred over to the activity centre in La Fortuna where we were given a briefing of available activities. Not being ones to sit around, we quickly had a full agenda starting with mountain biking starting within half an hour of us signing up. We had to rush to get the things we needed for biking from our bags and try to figure out what to do for lunch. There was a grocery store nearby so granola bars and water would have to suffice.

Our guides picked us up from the activity centre and off we went. The ride we chose took us through the country side and through some small villages. We had to drive a short distance out of town to the starting point. On the way one of the guides spotted a sloth sleeping in a tree near the road so we stopped to take pictures. It wasn't far from the side of the road so we could get a much better look than on our night walk. The sloth also had a baby sleeping on its chest which Gina liked. After our short stop we got on the bikes and started our tour. It was just Gina and I with our guides. The biking was much harder than we thought it would be and made much more challenging as we were out in the heat of the day. We cooked under the blazing afternoon sun. We stopped at a few spots where we could have swam if we wanted to but we didn't have our swimming stuff with us. With limited clothes in the bag, I didn't really want to have one set contaminated with muddy river water. The rough gravel roads also made it very challenging and was particularly hard on the arms and butt as they took the brunt of the impact. We saw a few cool animals including Jesus Christ lizards and birds. It was also really neat to see what the locals were growing in their fields including a lot of fruit, almonds and root vegetables. We truly were on the backroads of Costa Rica. There was a few tough hills at the end when you where already beat out from the heat and rough roads. We both made it to the finish, but very tired. Our guides had a cold beer waiting for us at the finish and it was definitely the best tasting beer of the whole trip. They also had cut up a fresh pineapple and watermelon which we made short work of. We were starving after our less than adequate lunch. They dropped us off at our hotel afterwards where it was straight into the shower. As hard as it was I really enjoyed the biking, Gina didn't enjoy it quite as much but she did well to finish.

Once we were showered and had our room organized we went into town to try and find an ATM that would actually work with our bank card. We don't normally have issues but for some reason in Costa Rica the banks don't like us. I was only able to take out a small amount of local currency when we first crossed the boarder but we had since ran out. We have been using US dollars instead but you lose out on the exchange with every transaction, especially if you get change in local Colones.
Their standard exchange rate everywhere is 500 colones to each dollar when the actual exchange is currently 550. You essentially are losing 10% each time you spend dollars. This is why I wanted to find an ATM so that we could get take out a pile of Colones and stop the craziness. The third ATM we tried in town finally worked and we now have local currency. Our hotel is located on the outskirts of La Fortuna so it is about a 15 minute walk to the centre of town. We came back to the hotel after our rushed trip to the ATM for our nightly briefing although we already knew our schedule for tomorrow. At the briefing our guide simply told us what time she had made supper reservations. It was kind of a waste having made the walk back to the hotel only to find out what time supper was going to be. We still hadn't had a real meal since breakfast so we decided to skip the group dinner and do our own thing. We made the long walk back to town and went to one of the restaurants that one of the guys in our group recommended. It was a classier place which was a nice change. We had marlin ceviche as an appetizer and man was it ever good. For our main course I had a huge steak while Gina had pasta with smoked salmon. My meal was great while Gina's was a bit too salty but still tasty. We were stuffed and ready for bed afterwards so we made the long walk back to the hotel one last time and had an early night.

Our group has a cold going around with lots of people hacking and coughing. I had it much earlier in the trip and aside from the odd cough here and there I am pretty much over it. Gina unfortunately got it over the past couple days and is currently fighting it. That is one of the downfalls of travelling so close with so many people. Were both pretty red as well due to the sun. We've been diligent about sunscreen but we've had blazing tropical sun every day of the trip so far and there isn't much you can do if you want to do activities. Thanks for the comments and updates from home. Sounds like everyone is doing well.
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