I love waking up to the sound of howler monkeys and birds. Oh and not to mention a giant Volcano outside the tent door. This camping spot is amazing, to my delight where we are camping is a ten minute walk from the hostel itself and there are composting toilets. We are surrounded by farm area as well, and the walk is through jungle, yesterday we caught sight of monkeys swinging from tree to tree with baby monkeys on their backs. Wow!!
We also caught the shuttle down to some hot springs that are heated from the near by volcano. We took the local route with the springs and went down under the bridge to hop in to the hot springs. My skin is so soft today, and I was told that the springs make you look younger. All this sun damage has been reversed, hallelujah, and thank you volcano gods. Now please don’t erupt on us. We caught the shuttle to the entrance of the national park, we really wanted to catch it to the Arenal obseveratory but we had a miscommunication. We hiked the trails of the park they were short and full of people, but with great views of the volcano. I liked the signs that say enter at your own risk active volcano. In 2008 there were 4 evacuations of the surrounding area due to activity and hazardous gases from Arenal. Mateo found a trail in his GPS app on his phone. Once we arrived at the end of the park trail and the beginning of the GPS trail is when the bush whacking started. There really was no trail, some areas did clear up and gave us just enough hope we were heading in the right direction. This trail would lead us to the Toucan trail which was close to where we wanted to be in the first place. If not for the GPS I’m sure we would of ended up a story of two lost hikers at the base of the Volcano.
Lucky we were only hiking with a small bag, larger bags would have hindered our crawling under barbed-wire fences. The trail was a very old trail that used to connect the two, but now one pice of land that borders the National park is privately owned the two no longer connect for most people. We saw old signs and pieces of trail throughout the trek. The Toucan trail was not exciting we hiked it a bit but never saw any toucans, I would of not been satisfied with the toucan hike. We knew we really shouldn’t of been cutting trails on old trails and got a bit of a reprimand when we exited via the toucan trail. We offered to go back and the guy at the entrance said just not to do it again. That would of been a story if he would of said to go back. It was time to head to the Arenal observatory to eat some lunch and do some more hiking. After a satisfying lunch of sandwiches we hiked up to Cerro Chato. Once we arrived at the trail it was time to start hiking up to this crater lake. After our bush whacking experience I was tired but we ony had four hours to get to the lake and back before making it to the road to catch our shuttle on our return trip. I had a rough trip up and I convinced myself I didn’t want to hike down into the crater to the lake.
This is where Mateo really helped, regardless of what he says if he keeps moving so do I. I had a pretty grumpy hike, he also convinced me after we had reached the top to hike down to the lake for a swim. It felt so good to get in that water, it was even cold. It took about half the time to hike down the muddy steep slope. We power walked to the road side to catch our shuttle, and also someone expedited our walk by picking us up and taking us about a kilometer. We treated ourselves to dinner at the hostel, much of the food they serve the guests is from the farm on the property and the cook is great, he make delicious healthy food. I can’t believe we have come this far completely by land, with the exception of the boat ride from La Paz to Mazatlán. When I look at the map it’s crazy to think how far a person can get without a plane involved.
The lady running our hotel told us many times that there would be coffee in the morning, and just as planned we woke packed up and used our travel mugs to get a cup of coffee on the go. The pastries we had bought the morning before would hold us over until we ate some real food. We marched down to the bus station coffee in hand to catch our bus. After asking for directions many times an being pointed in many different directions, a collage student told us in English to just wait here and a bus should arrive anytime. We sat back and watched all the busses pull out of the station, then the La Fortuna bus pulled up we hopped on. I had found a place the night before on google by searching La Fortuna Camping and came upon this place Essence Arenal. An ecolodge hostel, I thought I had found good directions. When Mateo and I started looking into the guide book we couldn’t figure our where this place was. So we cross referenced the guide book with the google directions, and also Mateo’s app on his phone we figured out where we needed to be. We got off the bus right at the dirt road that led to the national park. It was a 9 kilometer walk, the bus would not get us closer. The hike would pass by the entrance of the National park, so there would be some traffic for at least the first 3 kilometers. We thought we would have a good chance of finding a ride road side, we were picked up within minutes of starting our trek, by a mini bus, that was taking people to one of the adventure establishments.
They brought us with in 3 kilometers of the place we were heading, we were blessed to have caught a ride so far. The rest of our hike to Essence Arenal was mostly steep uphill making us even more thankful for the ride. Once at the end of the road we found our Hostel and we were greeted by two girls who were volunteering for two months from Spain. They checked us in and pointed us to the camp spots. Costa Rica is so green with lush rolling hills, we are next to a beautiful and this hostel boasted of the amazing view of the Volcano Arenal. I would like to stay here for a week, and just enjoy. I think Mateo and I are a bit worn down from the travel and would just like to relax and not be on a bus. We will stay here for two nights and then move south. Our little tent is all set up on a fantastic ridge where we will be waking up to the view I can’t wait for tomorrow morning to come.
We arrived into Rivas and insisted that we be dropped of at the TicaBus station, the cab driver was not convinced that the TicaBus will let us on without a pre-perchessed. It was Sunday so the station was not open. The cost was threw the roof, but there was no getting off when the bus was underway. After crossing the border on our extremely expensive Tica bus we were dropped off at Cañas. Costa Rica has already proven it’s self to be more like American pricing than any other country we have traveled through, our taxi ride to the next town over cost 20$ for a 17 kilometers. We were told by the taxi cab driver that there was a bus to La Furtuna that left at 2pm from Tilaran, La Furtuna was our final destination for the day. The time was 1:19pm, we did get him down to 20$ the starting price was 24$, only to find out once we arrived at the station he lied to us and there was only two busses a day and they are at 7am and 12:30pm. Grrr I really do not like taxi cab drivers and we will refrain from getting any information from them when possible. While deciding what our next step would be another taxi approached us and said he could take us to La Fortuna for $90, and that all the hotels in the area would charge us 25$ to sleep for each of us. We left and sat at the park where we were approached by another taxi can driver that said he would take us to La Fortuna for 70$ and that we was giving us a deal. We finally took refuge in a restaurant from attacking cab drivers and enjoyed a late lunch. After zoning out on the wify for a bit we weigh our options, pay for lunch and ask the waitress if she knows of some cheap hotels. We did just that and she directed across the street to Mary’s Place Hotel, $30 a night, ac, shower, fan, and even some cable television. We took it, got settled, went grocery shopping and finished our night with some pizza. Thank you Costa Rica, if you could show us a better side tomorrow that would be great because we are not feeling it today. Maybe we will be in Panama quicker than expected.
Everyone one woke up late. I guess riding a motor bike around the island really took it put of them. Then there is me waking up early, I like my mornings drinking coffee and blogging on my own. I have always been a person to wake early ever since I was a kid. I remember taking books to friends houses during sleepovers and being the first to wake up and waiting hours for everyone else to wake up and reading and waiting around until my friends woke up. The employees are always awake when I am the majority of the time. I don’t like forcing my myself back into sleep unless I’m really tired. When the light starts to shine I’m like a rooster. We have all decided we will stay today and leave tomorrow on the first boat at 7:30am. Then get onto a TicaBus into Costa Rica, Danny has told us that the TicaBus picks up at 9:30. I am not 100% when I take travel advise from people when it benefits them, we spend more money here at the hostel if we stay one more day. We stay plan to stay another night anyways. This island is really beautiful, today will be a beach day. After everyone is awake we get some breakfast into us and head to a short hike and down to the beach. It’s amazing how this little island was once surrounded by salt water and now over hundreds of years has turned to fresh water. It is a wives tail but we have heard there are fresh water sharks, they haven’t been seen for many years now. We start making our way away from the hostel, at the beginning of the trail there is a butterfly arbordium, I go and venture off on my own to go inside.
What a cool place, full of so many butterflies. Butterfly’s only have a life span of two weeks, some of them spend the majority of their life’s living on the forest floor. They are interesting little beings. I catch up with Mateo at the entrance and we wonder in to find Tua and Timmy. I’m going to miss our Swedes, it’s nice traveling in a pack of four. We will part ways four hours into Costa Rica. The hike is nice and hot with great views, we opt out of swimming in the Laguna because it looks like a power shake full of kale and spinach. The beach is awesome, swimming in a lake that feels like the ocean without the salt, it is really nice. We find a place to get some lunch, Tua is always looking for dessert or cookies I love this about her, because then we can share. I try to limit the sweets or that’s all I would eat. Everyone falls asleep and rests up a bit with a view of the beach and cool breeze it is easy to find yourself sleeping.
Today will be a relaxing one, I’m really sore from the motor bike ride yesterday.
We wake up early and scurry to the boat, that is ten minute walk away, Danny has been so helpful, when we were paying our bill last night it was much less than we all expected, he really gave us a deal. I would love to go back to the island and stay right in the forest to explore more. We have to find the TicaBus station as soon as we can when we get to Rivas. Taxi cab drivers can be helpful at getting you places. The boat ride is beautiful with views of both the volcanos, what a lovely past couple days we have had.
We wake up and have a great breakfast, anything we eat from here is good. We hear the dirt bikes pull up. Hoping they don’t require a lot of paperwork or proof of license because Timmy’s wallet got pocketed at a carnival and he has no proof of his license. Mateo of course has all his documents. The bikes look a bit rough, and the helmets provided look rougher. They are just these little bucket helmets and with all the gear we have normally been wearing would of consisted of riding pants, jacket, gloves and a nice full face helmet. We are in pants, a long sleeve shirt and helmet. We have read about horror stories that led us to believe we needed to thoroughly inspect the bike before renting it. So Mateo video recorded both bikes to insure we would receive our deposits back. Timmy took the bike out for a spin to familiarize himself again, as did Mateo. Tua and I donned our helmets and hoped on. There was no deposit, no checking of license, we were off. I was scared our bike sounded like it would soon shake to pieces if we hit any bumps. Timmy and Tua’s bike seemed to start up well and have better acceleration. As for Mateo and my bike it had trouble starting and going, our electric starter was broken and our kick starter was missing a pin so the rod you would kick down would go flying off every time you would kick it down. Oh and the kick starter would not start the engine very well or at all. So here I am, a motor bikes starter, Mateo and I would both start pushing it, and he would hop on and I would continue to push. If we were lucky we would have a down hill to help, we sometimes were not so lucky. When I first got on the bike I was so nervous and just closed my eyes most of the time. I tried to get Mateo to slow down, I felt so naked without my gear. Eventually I was used to the feeling of no gear and speed, and by speed I mean not very fast just fast enough to get us places. We saw many sights Danny set us up with a map and a time line to see places.
We made it all around the island, and even on to a road that was all large rocks and dirt for 10 kilometers. This was one of the roughest areas to push start the bike. We finished the ride with a sunset and going back In to the main town of Moyogalpa to find an ATM. Right as we arrived to the atm the power went out, it started raining and the darkness came on quickly. We all were tired and made our way back to the hostel. Just about everyone on the island road bikes, at all times of the day. There were many bikers on the road as we rode back to the hostel, I just wanted to get them all reflective gear, I wonder how many people are hit by cars on this island.