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2107 MARCH COSTA RICA, GOODBYE MONTEVERDE, HELLO LA FORTUNA

We depart the mountain area to go look at a volcano we may never see!

sunny 28 °C

DAY 33 FRIDAY 10TH MARCH

We had an easy morning, our last breakfast at Taco Taco, then it was time for our bags to be stuffed again as today is another travelling day. We had to be out of our room by 10am, but the shuttle pick up was not until 2pm in the afternoon. We filled the time with one last stop to the shops for a quick souvenir purchase (fridge magnet) and then spent the other waiting hours reading our books while seated in the lobby lounge.

We still had enough food to have a wrap lunch and before we knew it the time had come to load the bags for the change of location.

The minibus took us just out of the town limits where we were transferred to another minibus. Luggage was transferred over for us, we just had to move our bodies to the new transport vehicle.

The next 2 hours we were bounced around on a rocky dirt road to reach Lake Arenal. These vehicles really get a thrashing having a life driving over these rough roads everyday. The drivers do not travel fast but still the poor little bus copped a beating, going up and down and around the hilly roadway. Most of the scenery here was cleared pastoral land. Lots of dairy cows eating the lush green grass. Did not attempt to take any photos as we were bouncing around too much.

The minibus dropped us on the side of the road, lakeside. It was a bit of a scramble with luggage to get into the boat which had just pulled up onto the bank of the lakes edge. Soon everyone from the minivan with luggage was seated on the boat and we were off across the lake.

The water was a little chopping, but it was still an enjoyable trip across the water. I think it took about an hour, but within 15 minutes we caught sight of the famous Arenal Volcano, which has only just stopped spewing molten hot lava in 2010. Of course there was cloud cover at the very peak which remained hidden the complete trip. It has set a challenge for us to photograph or even just witness the volcano in it's entirety during our several day stay.

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On the other side of the lake, it was a scramble off the boat (which again just parked randomly on the lakes edge) with luggage up the hill to the waiting minibus transport that would take us to our chosen hotel. A nice young German chappy helped Dolly with her bag (she playing the old lady card) up the hill and again assisted us all with passing bags via the window into the transport.

Drive was again about an hour to La Fortuna town. We passed many, many 5 star spa resort type hotels along the road. There are hot springs here, due to the volcano still being active, the underground water is being heated by it. Oh to have the money to be staying in these places, but no we were delivered to our back street Hotel Dorothy, which is home for the next 4 nights, triple room US$36 a night. Upon check in we saw this place is a little tired and can I say 'rustic'? The room they wanted to check us into was like a jail cell with a single and a bunk bed that stood about 7 feet off the ground with no save me rail. Worst part was no window to the outside world, just a window into the hallway. Yeah, not having that, we settled for a room with a window with a view of the still hiding volcano, that had a double and a single. We are happy to double up in a bed to avoid a bunk bed.

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I stress again the room or the whole hotel is a little rustic and could do with a good old scrub down, but the bed linens looked clean and they supplied lovely fluffy white towels. And we discovered later in the evening the shower was the best we have encountered all trip. Hot and strong.

By the time we were settled and ready to go for a wander it was almost dark. But it seemed safe enough and there are lots of people milling around. We had a quick walk on the main street, and decided it was time for a cold bevvie. Supermarket on the corner is selling our favourite rum and cola in a can and Dolly's local beer of choice so we purchased those and went and sat in the La Fortuna Park in the centre of the town. Lots of people out and about so we did not really stand out like a trio of drunks sipping out of brown paper bags in the park. Although drinking in public is apparently a no no, but we have been advised if it is covered and discrete we should be ok. Lucky we have our stubbie coolers with us at all times for emergencies like this.

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It was nice sitting watching the world go by, this town is very touristy. People come here to hike the volcano, visit the hot pools and pay exorbitant amounts of money to do all sorts of leisure activities like zip lining etc. Costa Rica sure is expensive if you want any sort of active entertainment. Lucky we are happy to buy supermarket drinks and sit in the park and observe the masses. On that note we had another round before heading off to find some food.

On our way out earlier I had spotted a restaurant that was offering plate of the day for C2500 = A$5.88 including a drink so we decided that was would a good choice for our dinner. A couple from our hotel were already seated and their food looked ok so we ordered as well. Beef stew (yummy gravy), rice, beans, salad, fried plantain - this seems to be a standard meal where only the meat part varies, good value for the money and the drink was some kind of unidentifiable fruit drink.

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Back at the hotel we all enjoyed the best shower of the trip (separately of course) before going to bed.

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The Arenal volcano measures at least 1,633 metres (5,358 ft) high.[2] It is conically shaped with a crater 140 metres (460 ft) in diameter. Geologically, Arenal is considered a young volcano and it is estimated to be less than 7,500 years old.
Arenal is one of seven historically active Costa Rican volcanoes along with Poás, Irazú, Miravalles, Orosí, Rincón de la Vieja complex, and Turrialba. It was Costa Rica's most active volcano until 2010, and one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world. It has been studied by seismologists for many years.
The volcano is located at the center of Arenal Volcano National Park in the northern zone of the country, 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) southwest of the La Fortuna district in San Carlos (canton), Costa Rica.[6]
Arenal Volcano area is an important watershed for the Arenal Lake Reservoir. The reservoir's water is used for hydroelectric power. It is also connected to the national system.

DAY 34 SATURDAY 11TH MARCH

:-( Not a good night last night, Dolly and I shared the double bed and we were eaten alive by invisible invaders. We are hoping it was not bed bugs but it seems the only answer. We complained to the reception and he looked horrified and asked if we had any food in the room. No mate, we were the food for these hungry little buggers! Anyway we changed rooms but the damage is done and lets hope they are not in the new room.

Our new room still has a view of the volcano and is a little more cheery looking, but alas the shower is not as good. But a choice of bed bugs and good shower or no bed bugs and crapper shower the choice is obvious.

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Lyn cooked poached eggs for breakfast from the supplies we purchased last night at the big supermarket at the end of the street. We have use of a grotto old kitchen here and no breakfast is included. Free coffee but that is it.

Late morning we left the hotel to explore the town. Didn't take very long. All the shops are overpriced souvenir shops (selling stuff made in Thailand that we know we can get there for a much cheaper price) and shops selling tours (hiking, zip lining etc etc) and lots of bars and food outlets, with the occasional supermarket in between them.

We stopped for an ice cream cone C700 = $1.65 which ended up being the cheapest in town for one scoop as everywhere else we saw as over C1000. The volcano still not completely revealing itself.

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It's Saturday and I must say the town is abuzz and we noticed there is a abundance of mountain bikes and riders in the town. We found out later that there is an annual bike ride from Tilaran to La Fortuna (around the lake) 75km bike ride which was on this weekend. They rode this morning and return again tomorrow. We actually met some of the riders while having a pit stop (us and them) and they told us all about it.

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We continued on looking at the shops. Found the bus station that we need for a few days time when we depart here. Stopped and had some lunch. Lyn & I had a little pork ribs and Dolly a couple of chicken wings from a local hole in the wall. C1500 = A$3.53 enough to stop a tummy rumble.

We looked a few more shops but not impressed by all the overpriced rubbish they are selling that comes from Thailand. So I suggested we just go to supermarket, buy some drinks and go sit in the park with the rest of the world. Not that the rest of the world were drinking, but we needed hydrating!

We spent a lovely afternoon in the park, watching families play with kids. Lots of licra clad bodies walking around looking happy with themselves that they made the ride today, have they forgotten that they still have to ride back tomorrow?

By the time we left the park, heading home with all intentions of cooking our dinner, I suggested we eat at the same place as last night and everyone jumped at the chance. Maybe not for the food, but maybe for the thought of not having to cook.

DAY 35 SUNDAY 12TH MARCH

Good news no new bites for me last night, I slept really well. Dolly is not faring so well though. She claims to have new bites, but I think they are from the night before which have waited to come out, as there is no way they would just choose her to violate if we are sharing the same infested bed. So we both just need to nurse the bites we have for the next few days and try not to scratch them.

Breakfast of coffee/tea and toast before we headed out about mid morning down the road 20 minutes to the bridge that crosses the Fortuna River. Here we have been told is a good place to go for a swim. Seems they told everyone as there was already a crowd down on the rocks and in the water. We managed to climb our way down and then brave the water. We had only walked perhaps 1 km to get here but the sun was out and it was warm. The water was cool, not freezing, and once you were in it, it was lovely.

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We stayed for a couple of hours kicking ourselves for now being as organized as the people around us with drinks and snacks. Obviously it was busier today being a Sunday, but there was still enough room for everyone to find a spot to sit in or near the flowing water. There was a deep pool that had the young ones jumping into via a swing rope or straight off the rocks. I was keen to have a swing, but where they had to climb out of the water to get back on the banks was way beyond my physical capabilities, so we settled for a little further up the rocks where we could at least get in and out of the river.

Sufficiently cooled off we decided to head back to get some lunch. Two minutes on the road and I happen to look up a the volcano and amazingly it was clear of cloud! A miracle! Quickly diving for cameras before the cloud rolled back over it, we managed to get a few shots of the naked volcano peak. Happy now, I thought this was not going to be a sight we were going to encounter.

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Halfway home we saw a beautiful iguana (lizard) which had been run over by a car and although it was still alive, only just, it was not going to last much longer. Really we should have hit it on the head with a big rock to put it out of it's misery, but our luck we would be seen as stoning the poor thing by a passer-by, not being able to explain what we were doing in Spanish. So we left the poor thing, hoping it would die soon enough before the vultures, of which there were many in the area, found it.

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A stop at the supermarket for lunch supplies, with which we returned to the hotel to prepare and eat. A short relax and just before 4pm it was unanimously decided it was time to walk into central park for a drink and a people watch.

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The checkout chicks at the supermarket are getting to know us by now and we have become like a permanent fixture in the park every afternoon.

We actually made it back to the hotel for dinner tonight and Lyn cooked a lovely spag bol.

DAY 36 MONDAY 13TH MARCH

Very relaxed day today, we did not do much at all. I spent most of the day planning our next weeks travel - booking accommodation and sorting out transport.

We didn't venture out until lunch time to get some supplies from supermarket at end of street. After lunch we strolled into town, bought a couple of postcards, had a peek in the central park church and then basically took up our resident spot in the park to have a few drinks. Not as crowded as the weekend, but still some families with little kids kicking balls around and chasing puppies.

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We have had a nice time here in La Fortuna and although we could not afford to do any of the paid activities, we could afford the supermarket drinks which we have enjoyed in the park. I'm glad we saw the volcano revealed in all it glory, although no longer spewing out molten lava it is still an amazing giant that overlooks the town.

We again made it back to the hotel for dinner, Lyn cooked pork chops and vegies. Tomorrow we move on to Los Chiles.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 18:36 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged la fortuna Comments (2)

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