Wednesday, January 12, 2005

costa rica travelogue (5)

Happy New Year!


I greeted this morning with a lonely but submersing hike on some trails behind our lodge. I got the full feel of a rainforest today (sans wild animals) since it was raining as I trudged down the muddy paths. Along the trail, I saw some damp butterflies and giagantic trees. The cloud forest really is beautiful on the ground and in the air.

Our time at the cloud forest lodge outside Santa Elena came to an end as we finished our coffee, checked out, and caught our 4wd ride towards Arenal. It took about two hours to go 50km -- up and down crappy pock-marked muddy roads. Luckily we had someone else driving (I would have quickly grown impatient) so after just a couple hours we arrived at a boat dock on the only lake in Costa Rica. I stepped out of the jeep and removed my two-hours-of-bumping-on-the-seat wedgie before we boarded the boat that would take us to our next stop: Arenal Lodge.

Throughout the whole 45minute boat ride, we were heading straight for the Arenal Volcano, but it was overcast so I could only see the bottom third most uninteresting parts. That's okay. We have 3 days in Arenal, hopefully one will be clear.

We got out of the boat on the other side of the lake after waiting for the people blocking the public landing to move. It was interesting how our tour boat was empty except for the two of us, the guide & driver. I think the boat could comfortably fit fifty. Unusual. Anyhow, once we were back on land, we were greeted with a pleasant surprise: a paved road!!! Haven't seen one of those in days.

We waited a few minutes for our next ground transport to arrive. It would take us the three kilometers up the mountain to our next abode. A roadside vendor had a huge knife and a truck full of fresh coconuts, so we bought one to drink. He whacked a small hole in the top and it was completely full of water! What a nice treat to suck down the natural canteen's contents after a long trip.

Our ride arrived and took us the remaining distance up past an entry gate really far up a long suspenseful driveway to the Arenal Lodge. The scenery was beautiful (again). I can't really say much other than we ended up with a marvelous room with french doors, a couch, coffepot, double sink and a private deck with rocking chairs to sit on while enjoying or own personal view of the volcano! It was just all right there: our room with a view. Awesome.

Through a bit of exploring, we really began to love this place. The restaurant had excellent food. I had a twelve dollar fillet that was HUGE and very melty. Not bad, considering my other steak encounters in this country have been quite disappointing. We found a little comfort in great wait-staff and receptionists.

Walking around the property, we discovered a butterfly garden and a mini-zoo. The zoo had a family of boars, some deer and a pair of lazy Pacas. We decided to save the hiking trails for sunnier times.

While in the remote edges of the property, we found a strange clearing that plateaued on top of the hill and housed three italian-style fountains. The area seemed to be perfect for weddings and stuff of the like since it was flat, remote, not too windy and had a breathtaking view of the lake and volcano.

All in all, today was exciting. I can't wait for the volcano to reveal itself. I've heard a few rumbles but not seen anything yet. Meanwhile, I will settle for the churps, burps, and squeels of the nighttime jungle outside my bedroom window.

I heard you can see the lava flows from the volcano at night... nifty.

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