Monday, May 19, 2008

La Fortuna Arenal - a paradise on earth

At 5 AM, we were woken up by loud bird chatter. The first streaks of daylight brightened the sky and thousands of birds roosting in a tree right outside our cottage were awakening. We went back to sleep.

We woke up at 6:30 and after a breakfast of toast, bacon, eggs, OJ, coffee and fruit, we boarded the Canoa Adventures van. We picked up a couple of others and made the 2-hour drive to Rio Celeste National Park. Our guide Pedro, armed with books on local flora and fauna, pointed out a sloth on a tree, which we were really excited to see. We reached the park at 10 AM, slapped on sunscreen and headed off. The trail was moderately challenging, uphill for most of the way. Thanks to Pedro, we saw a howler monkey, an owl, a dragon bird (relative of the Quetzal), and a "sensual tree". We then came across Los Tenidros (the water at some spots was 100 degrees)where the water was not safe for swimming due to the high sulphur content. Los Tenidros is the area where the water in the river is dyed a remarkable shade of turquoise by minerals that seep into it from the Tenerio Volcano. We then visited the hot springs, where we tentatively slipped our feet in the water but the smell of rotten eggs turned us off.
The waterfall was the highlight of the day. We could no go too close to the fall because of strong currents, but we enjoying splashing about in the water and lazing on the rocks.
We returned to the trail head, quieter and hungrier. Arroz con pollo never tasted better and was accompanied by tamarindo y chan y horchata and followed by dessert (arroz con leche). Stuffed and sleepy, we headed back to Arenal Green.
As we relaxed on the covered porch of our cottage with a view of the Arenal volcano, DH and I heard a loud, sustained screaming for 10-15 seconds, coming from the direction of the village (a mile or so away). This happened just as we were discussing the risks of living in a tiny piece of land so close to water and an active volcano. I spent the next hour and a good part of the night worrying for our safety in this beautiful country!

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