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Travel Journal: Costa Rica Day 4

You know it's a good vacation when you start losing track of what day it is! I had to really think to remember that it's Thursday.

Today, we slept in - until about 7:30am. It's hard to sleep in here because they start raking outside at like 5:30am. Plus, since all the floors are tile, sound echoes. Anyway, we got up and had breakfast at Los Tucanes again. Then, since today was supposed to be our relaxing day (tomorrow we leave at 7:30am for a tour of the Monteverde Cloud Forest), we went over to the pool at about 9:30am. We managed to "relax" for about an hour, reading our books and me trying to get some sun. Around 10:30, we decided to walk to Laguna Arenal, which is about 6k from the hotel. It was a great walk - lots of hills and through forests and plains areas. The weather was nice - a bit hot, so I ended up walking with some capris and my bathing suit on. For shoes, we only brought Chacos which have been really comfortable but did chafe a little on such a long walk. One thing I would do differently is bring one other pair of shoes - even just flip-flops to give my feet a change.

So, the walk to Laguna Arenal took about an hour and a half - lots of steep hills and a few pasuses to get a look at the volcano or listen to the howler monkeys. But, it felt good to walk and sweat. I'm eating more at Tabacon that I normally would at home, and it would be great if I returned home and was still at my goal weight!

We got to the lake, and it was cool, but fairly unremarkable. There was a guy there with a small snack cart who offered to take us on a lake tour - over to an Iguana island and near the volcano. But, it was nearly $20 a person and it was almost noon, and before we left the hotel we had signed up for a 1:15pm horseback ride to the La Fortuna waterfall. Luckily, right at that moment, a taxi pulled up! Such luck!

We jumped in, and he got us back to the hotel in about 5 minutes. Funny, since it took us over an hour on foot. On the cab ride back, the driver spotted what we think was a bandicoot - I can't remember what he called it. He fed it one of his banana chips, and he got up on his hind legs to take it. It was cute. As we were driving away, a tour bus came from te other direction and our cab signaled the driver that there was something there. The bandicoot crossed the road and went right over to the door of the bus. He obviously had figured out where snacks come from.

We had lunch at the hotel bar, then grabbed our stuff to go horseback riding. They picked us up at the hotel, along with two other couples. They had two cabs take us down to La Fortun (the town). The "stable" was located on a residential street - it was kind of weird. They didn't give us any instructions about how to handle the horse, or talk to us at all about the route. There was one woman in our group who had never been on a horse before, and I hadn't been on one in about 10 years.

Eddie, our guide, didn't really speak any English, either. We all managed to mount up - me on a horse named Dominga and Jeremy on Purina - and made our way down the street, then turned the corner onto the highway. We followed that for about a block, then Eddie opened up a gate onto a cow pasture next to the road. We made our way across several fields, with a great view of Chaco Charro (the sleeping volcano) and the Arenal. After the pastures, we arrived at at STEEP hill, leading down into a stream. It scared the shit out of me. Jeremy told me to just lean back, which I did. I felt sorry for the lady who had never been on a horse, but she took it all very well.

At the bottom of the ravine, all of the horses took a drink, then Eddie indicated we needed to go downstream a bit, then up the other side of the ravine. Again, scary as SHIT. The creek bed was really rocky, and a couple of times my horse slipped a bit and I was sure she was going to fall and kill me! But, Dominga took good care of me, and we made it.

We cut across a field of crops, then ended up on a road which was partially gravel, but paved in a few places, and went up up up up up. We left our horses, and walked up a bit more, until finally we arrived at a scenic overlook with the waterfall in front of us. It's a beautiful waterfall, coming out of the jungle and then straight down a sheer rock face. We looked at it for a few minutes (Jeremy's camera is still effed up - maddening!) and then began the descent down to a swimming area. There were a million stairs, all extremely steep. The stairs are mostly wood and packed dirt, with a chain-link railing and a few concrete stairs here and there. I wish we had a few photos because the stairs were RIDICULOUS and really treacherous. Especially when you ran into people trying to come up and have to press yourself against the cliff to make room for them to pass.

But, we finally made it down. Jeremy and I tried to swim in the lagoon right below the waterfall, but it was really cold and super rocky. Eddie helped me out of the rocky area - I tink he was worried that Jeremy and I had gone in there since we were the first ones down there. He led us across to the other swimming area, with a little beach - much safer.

The water was cold, but it felt good after the long, hot ride (which I was already starting to feel some booty soreness from). After swimming we worked our way back up te million stairs and rode back. Our horses kept trotting, and I felt like I was going to die, my butt hurt so bad. But, I made it. Barely.

Tomorrow - the cloud forest!

Breakfast @ Los Tucanes: mango, papaya, pineapple, coffee and milk, tomato and cheese omelette, some kind of yucca and cheese dumpling thing, a small pastry
Lunch: Caprese sandwich and latte
Dinner: Chicken with prune sauce, stuffed with spinach, and a salad
Drink: Two pina coladas (I think so far we've spent like $70 on pina coladas, which is a little ridiculous).

The only negative thing so far is that it doesn't feel like our clothes ever get dry. I feel (and smell) like a damp washcloth. Ick.

Posted November 11, 2004 7:47 PM | On This Day: 2005