Costa Rica – Arenal


Second leg of my Costa Rican trip back in August 2018. With this Covid 19-lockdown I am taking some time to look back at some great journeys I made. This was one of those I cherish.

Getting to and from Tortuguero is an exploration as such. So-called “travel days” normally are a bit boring, except for the close encounters again with a sloth, a bunch of animals relaxing at the shore of the river and the motor of our boat that broke down and got us crashing into the shore. No worries… everything would be fine…. not much that I could do anyway, so I sit back and relax observing the beautiful scenery around us. Our connecting bus is nicely waiting for us in Pavona, the transportation hub… with ONE store aka place to go to the bathroom. The bus will take me all the way to my “hotel” in La Fortuna, as was part of the agreement. Even the driver was in awe with the location and the views at this place! And then I got welcomed by a lovely family: Jonathan, mum Laetitia and Spongy, the poodle. Mum Laetitia has cooked a nice dinner for me. Where did I end up? Heaven??

The next morning I have a déjà vu…. I entered the bathroom and see on one wall a big gecko and on the sink a big black cricket. Looks like a scene I remember: Cambodia? The pampering continues with a delicious breakfast with a mass amount of fruit. At 7 am a minivan is picking me up. Together with a girl I met in Tortugeuro we booked the tour so we were sure the tour would happen. It is not extremely hot, but still hot and humid enough to sweat like hell. We are high up and there are quite some climbs on the “little” hike to get me out of breath. We pass by a waterfall and natural Jacuzzi’s that smell like rotten eggs and we end up at a place where two different streams join: by some sort of weird reaction it looks like one part of the stream is becoming a bright blue. Beautiful hike and so lucky with the weather, the moment we are done and ready for lunch it starts to rain like hell and doesn’t stop for the rest of the day. I am physically exhausted but happy and while dozing off in the van on our way back I look forward to the homemade dinner mum Laetitia will make for me…. I think…. because she only speaks Spanish and I think I asked her if I could get dinner by 8 pm.

While getting refreshed in my room with a view, I get reminded of how thin the walls of this typical lodge are. I hear a very loud MEEUUUUUUUHHHHHH!!! I was sure a cow, which normally should have been grazing in the meadow down below, was standing in my bathroom, but that would have been quite exceptional to get up the stairs, open the door and walk up to me. And here is where I have my second déjà vu….During our last trip as a couple without kids, my then fiance and me were hiking across Canada. At one moment we stayed in a cabin in Jasper National Park. It was October… high season for moose to “make babies”. Somewhere in the middle of the night we heard such a loud scream of a moose in heat, we were sure it had busted into our cabin. We peeked through the curtains of our window and saw that huge beast standing almost nose to nose with us with only glass separating us. 

I am not good with traveling in moist or wet places. Schotland killed a lens, now my mobile has given up on me. Why can’t it stand a bit of rain drops? So, here I am, half way through the trip without means of communication. Mmmm… I feel “naked”.
The next day started even more fun than I could have expected. Jonathan – the owner of the lodge – promised me to take me to the ranch to see how the cows that roam around the lodge are being milked. Up to a few months ago they milked the cows still manually, but now they had two machines. The barn is small and dark, mud on the floor with a flavor of “droppings”, dozens of big eyes staring at me. I like cows. They are so cute and funny and get scared easily as if they don’t understand how tall and heavy they are. I look at how they are doing this milking: the back legs are tied together, the tail is bonded to the left back leg, a machine is dangling onto their udder, while their head is stuck through a hole with view on their calves in the next barn. You can see clearly which calves belong to which cow. When I look around in this part of the barn I see a chicken with her bud pushed into a corner, while additional little chick feet are sticking out underneath her. Meanwhile the farmer’s wife and daughter enter the barn and give me a big hug as if I am part of the family. And as they feel I am, I should also be milking a cow. What ?!?!?! Never done that before! O Jeezzz, that feels weird, and with a lot of effort I get some milk out of them. Bon, it has been filmed and the evidence is there.
After the milking experience Jonathan drops me off for a hike across the lavastreams of 1968. It starts off dry and pretty sunny, but halfway through it becomes a full on shower again. Luckily I carry my poncho with me. So happy with this, my new friend. Weather changes fast here within minutes and that has surprised more than one tourist I pass by on this hike with their fitflops and without any sort of coat, soaking wet. This hike is without guide. Probably a dozen of eyes of cute animals are glaring at me from their hiding places. A bit frustrating. Probably my eye side is not good enough and my lack of sight of depth doesn’t help either. Except of the very last part of my hike, an animal as big as a dog staring at me from the middle of the path. I am too slow to get my camera hidden from the rain and my mobile is broke, so f**k! Afterwards I looked up what it was: a Tayra, some sort of weasel that lives in the woods.
After the hike I am dropped at a resort for a massage – o my God, I needed this! I am hurting everywhere – and a hotspring. We are in a vulcanic active area, right. The Arenal Volcano erupted or was quite active back in 2000. You still see fumes coming out. Well, that is if there is no rain cloud obscuring the view again.
Together with the other guests we have a great evening playing Jenga, with a hot coco in our hands, Spongy next to me and a view on the volcano. What a stay, what a place…