October 30 – 31, 2008
We departed Punta Leona and hung out for a short bit on Crocodile Bridge. Yes, there were really crocodiles there. Our drive to Arenal was fairly easy. We were both surprised at the condition of the roads, relatively easy. We stopped at one of several Palmito Queso roadside stands for some Papas chips and CR baklava, whose nutshells nearly broke my teeth. It was worth it.We arrived in Arenal at 4:30 – again! We chose to stay in El Castillo, because the volcano was now erupting on the Southwest side. Most of the action around there is in La Fortuna. Another reason for our staying on the other side, to avoid the action. The place we chose to rest our weary heads was Linda Vista Mar. Just in time to see the sunset over the lake – again! Beautiful. The best part: We were both quite pleased with ourselves for this choice of lodging. I thought Scott was going to burst with joy because we were SPOT ON in front of the volcan. It was cloud-covered at first. THEN the clouds lifted and WHAMO. Smashing. There she was in all her ancient glory with steaming red lava rolling down her sides. Mesmerizing. Naturally we had a balcon, so we hung out there and did what we do…nothing. Scott had to liberate a massive hopping spider that stayed curiously close to us. Most likely eating insects, but my psyche wasn’t handling having this creature over my head, especially since there are something like a dozen types of poisonous spiders in Costa Rica. In either case, Scott found him a new home somewhere in the dirt below us.
Scott and I met a pediatrician, Jen, from San Francisco and she joined us for dinner as we celebrated our 4 year anniversary that first night.
I was up before 6:00 both mornings (yes, heard the Howlers but didn’t see them) and got my BEST hummingbird photos yet. I had fruta for breakfast the first day but per Jen’s recommendations, Pinto Gallo (2 orders worth) the second morning. Just before 7:00 on the 31st, Arenal had an eruption that BOOMED and then proceeded to shake and rattle the sliding glass doors. Scott somehow slept through it all.
On Halloween we went to the Butterfly Conservatory in the metropolis of El Castillo. I found it to be a quaint, cute, dusty village. We saw another Blue Morpho on one of the trails around the Butterfly Conservatory. Mostly, we saw hundreds of butterflies in the enclosed green houses. Putting aside any distaste for creatures in captivity, I was in friggin’ heaven to see dozens upon dozens of Blue Morphos gliding all around me! My butterfly ADD totally kicked in. One even landed on me. Oh the sheer delight with a smile plastered on my face.
I found myself on a mission to understand the true purpose behind this conservatory. I asked the same question in many ways without fully hearing what I wanted to hear until the end of our visit: Do you release them back to the wild? We spoke at length with a well-cultured and well-traveled biologist who held a lot of knowledge about the Monarchs. They do not use the butterflies to reproduce and sell (as do some other ‘conservatories’) nor do they set them free. They remain in captivity during their entire 8-12 weeks of life. This saddens me. They do protect the eggs and incubate them to understand better the lifecyle and how it interacts with it environment. Most importantly, the work they do helps restore the local rainforest, which is partially deforested. This restoration is through education and building alliances. Ultimately, they are trying to maintain and increase certain numbers of insects in order to maintain the rainforest and vice versa.
We hit the one and only Soda to get some French fries and a beverage. The very cutest, elderly Tico man served us like we were royalty. He could not have been much taller than I. Hair neatly combed and greased. Glasses. The old polyester pants held high on his waist and a button down dark, striped shirt with short sleeves covered the dark age-spotted skin of his upper arms. With a partially toothless smile that beamed inner joy, he watched us closely to care for our needs. WE had a misunderstanding about our order. Francese Fritas is actually FRANKS and fries covered with ketchup and mayonnaise. I was hungry enough to pick off the franks and skim off the fries. I was cleaning my third fry when he approached me. Like all (according to my limited experience) other Tico service folks, he asked if I liked it. No me gusta says I with the fear of offending him and his Mamita’s hard work. He had his Mamita prepare another plate. I felt badly. It was obviously a low-overhead business. It was my miscommunication. Anyway, that sweetie returned with Solemente Fritas. Just fries. I gave him a huge tip…enough to cover the loss and then some. It was there at the Soda where we met Bill, who mountain biked from La Fortuna. He’s from Colorado, which we learned is now a BLUE state. GO-Bama! Back to the lodge to meet Jen for the Hot Springs.
We went to Eco-Termales hot springs, because Tabacon was way overpriced. Beautiful. Five springs on a continuum of hot to very hot. Saw monkeys…AGAIN! Jen had some quiet time as Scott and I relaxed. It was relaxing even if I’m not overly thrilled about remaining immersed in water…We ended up in La Fortuna for dinner, a sushi restaurant nonetheless.
We drove back in the dark and almost drove into a stream. The road was incredibly rough. The only light coming from our car. It was too foggy our last night to see the lava. I was tired. Scott was bummed. He waited outside for a long while as I got our things together.
My overall opinion about Linda Vista – spectacular location and views for the low cost. The beds were comfortable in comparison to many places, but the room smelled toxic like pesticides.
If you’d like to follow all the Costa Rican posts, click click click away and enjoy!
Post #1: The first days of our Costa Rican Honeymoon here
Post #2:: Little Grape Big Grape here
Post #3: First Monkey Sighting here
Post #4: Spazztacular Sunset here
This is Post #5: Looking at Lava with my Lovah here
Post #6: The Sanctuary here
Post #7: More of the Sanctuary here
Post #8: Playa Pan de Azucar here
Post #9: Yes We CAN! here
Post #10: Back at the Sanctuary here
Post #11: Adios Sanctuary! here