Monday, September 12, 2011

Street Goats, Street Chickens, Street Cows

Enjoying an agua dulce (sweet water) in front of Arenal.

This past weekend Oscar and I finally made it to La Fortuna.  Our plan was to go last weekend, but Oscar got sick so we stayed in San Jose.  Everything worked out for the best though because we were able to go both Saturday and Sunday this weekend.

Our first task was to take Perlita up to her doggy day-camp which is way up in the mountains near Escazu.  It took a good 30 minutes (in the wrong direction) to get her there and she barfed all over the car.  Great way to start the trip.  But the gringo (can't remember his name... Mike?) in charge of "Perrodise" was a nice guy and Perlita was very well taken care of.  It is a "free range" doggy camp.  The dogs are allowed to run around the land all during the day.  They only go in crates at night.  Plus it is only 5000 colones ($10) a night!

Perlita moments before the vomit was a-spewing.  Cutie pie now though!

With Perlita taken care of we began our winding journey to La Fortuna, the town right outside of Volcan Arenal**.  The roads are twisting, narrow, steep and have no fences.  The plus side to this is you get some beautiful views.  But I did spend most of the car ride petrified as I was sure the car would slide off the road and we would plummet to our doom.  To ease the horror, we did have a lot of fun spotting all the different street animals.  Most people are only familiar with street dogs.  Well on just our one trip to La Fortuna we spotted street horses, street cows, street chickens, street roosters, street turkeys, street quail, and street goats.  We didn't manage to find a street pig, nor a pig in a pool.

I love the views.

Our first and best view of Volcan Arenal.

Once in La Fortuna, we checked in at our hostel called Arenal Backpacker's Resort.  They are a self-proclaimed 5 star hostel.  We paid a hefty amount for a private room, but I believe dorms are only $14.  There is a sweet swimming pool, a swim up bar, a great common area with a restaurant, and a view of the volcano.  The rooms are well kept and clean.

Next we headed to La Choza, a restaurant right down the street and had some lunch.  The food has a fair price, the portions are huge, and it is fantastic food!

How cute is that volcano rice??!!

After taking a dip in the hostel pool, and a nap, we took off towards the volcano for a trip to Baldi Hot Springs Resort.  The fee to get in for residents is $14, and foreigners is $28.  I don't know if it was quite worth $28, but the place was beautiful.  It has 25 pools, though we only went to about 10.  Each pool has a different temperature, some cold, some so hot you can't even get in.  There's various jacuzzi style pools, waterfalls, rock seats, loungers and even-- slides!  Yes there are 3 slides you can go down.  And not just any pansy slide, if you dare to plunge on the middle slide you will reach a top speed of 45 km/hour.  Even the "baby slide" gives you a deep wedgie in the nether regions and shoots a good amount of water up your nose.  It's a good time to just sit and watch the poor souls go down the slides.  We went at night because we wanted the cooler weather, and the pools were lit up which was a neat effect.

Okay I know the one picture of the hot springs and it's not the pools.  But the greenery around the pools is just as special!

Weather for the following day was cloudy and rainy.  We went for breakfast at the same restaurant and then had a beer (don't judge) while discussing whether or not to head to the waterfalls.  We didn't want to go and it be so muddy it's unpleasant.  We eventually decided "yay" and drove up to the falls.  Fee for nationals is $3, foreigners $10.

The "hike" to the falls is basically a whole bunch of steep rock stairs.  There was a chain handrail most of the way, which is important to this crippled gringa.  We got to the falls and took a swim in the freezing water.  The current was so strong from the falls that it was difficult to even stand knee deep in the water.  After another beer, we hiked back to the car and scooted inside just before it started to down pour.

Las Cataratas de Fortuna from a lookout before the hike.

Check out this crazy caterpillar I found!  Pretty sweet shot with my tiny camera.

Swimming away from the waterfall is much more calm.

Driving home was even worse than the way there.  It was so cloudy in the mountains the visibility must have dropped to only 15 feet for a few miles.  I was all the more frightened because the lane we were in was the "outside" lane.  The lane nearest the previously mentioned "plummet-to-your-death" cliff.  But obviously we made it home safe and sound.

Happy to have my Perlita back who vomited not 3 minutes after we put her in the car on the way home.

**Volcan Arenal has been active for thousands of years.  Three years ago when I went with my family you could hear eruptions through the night and see red lava flowing down the sides.  As of about 10 months ago the volcano is now dormant.  This actually worries the residents as they make their living off of showing tourists "Costa Rica's most active volcano".  Of course there are still plenty of exciting ways to explore the volcano, the waterfalls and the town.  You can still buy photos and postcards of Arenal in all it's lava glory.