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Travel Journal: Costa Rica Day 7

Okay, I'm sitting at the Samasati restaurant where we just had breakfast. I'll do the food list now, since I haven't done it in a while:

- Breakfast @ Tabacon: eggs, fruit, etc.
- Lunch @ Monteverde: a delicious buffet of rice, black beans and fruit
- Dinner @ The Steakhouse: pepper sirloin, vegetables and corn
- 2 pina coladas

- Breakfast @ Tabacon: bacon, waffles, coffee, 1 fried egg
- Lunch @ Samasati: Rice, black beans and 2 delicious vegetable dishes: one with cauliflower and one with cassava and squash
- Dinner @ Samasati: curried carrot soup (super yummy and very spicy!), Brazilian rice, a potato salad, and a cucumber salad and some tortilla-type bread

Now, to pick up where I left off. There were 11 zip lines and Monteverde. The highest one was about 450 feet high - and we could see everything below us. From the tower where we launched, you could see the Arenal volcano in one direction and the Pacific Ocean in the other direction. Stunning. And of course, Jeremy is very sad because we have no pictures. I'm resigned to it now, and refer to this trip as "The Lost Vacation." Who really cares if you have photos or not - you still have the experience that you can look back on and remember. That's why I'm trying to take such good notes.

After we were done on the zip lines, we got back in the van with Carlos for the trek home. Another couple joined us - on the way there they had taken a car the whole way and when they heard how much faster the boat ride was, they asked their driver if they could come with us. The ride back across the lake was pretty dark, and of course they don't really use lights. I would have been scared, except that they don't have any boat traffic to speak of, either. Just the ferries taking tourists back and forth.

On the ride from the lake back to Tabacon, Carlos pointed out some lava coming down the side of the volcano. Jeremy and I decided that we'd get a cab to an ATM in La Fortuna and then go to The Steakhouse along the main road (which several people had recommended). Our driver didn't speak any English, and Jeremy and I were so busy with wedding stuff before we left that we didn't learn any Spanish. We finally got her to understand that we wanted the bank - but Jeremy couldn't get the ATM to dispense any cash. The menu was in English, and asked for an amount in denominations of 1,000 colonnes. He couldn't get to an amount that it would agree to dispense. SO, the cab driver took us to another bank, and Jeremy and I went in together. We finally figured out that it dispensed $10,000 bills, and we were able to get a bunch of cash. Good thing, because otherwise we couldn't have paid our cab driver!

She took us over to The Steakhouse, where the volcano was totally clear! We sat on the porch outside and watched the eruptions. There were a few good-sized explosions and flows which were cool to see. We called the cab back, and had her take us up to the Kioro, where we ate a couple of nights earlier, so we could have a closer view. We sat on some chairs and just watched the volcano and the stars for a while. I saw 8 shooting stars!

We went back to Tabacon after a bit, had a pina colada, and went to bed. I asked about my laundry, since I expected it to be done by then, but they said to check back in the morning. Since we thought our morning pickup was arond 10, we planned to wake up early, eat, and go into La Fortuna to check out the shops before leaving. But when morning came, we were feeling a bit lazy so we slept in a little extra. (Funny, "sleeping in" here means like 7 or 7:30!) We went to breakfast, then I went to check on my laundry again. That's when I discovered they had lost it. I tried not to lose it myself, since that laundry bag contained my swimsuit, my only long-sleeve shirt, and two t-shirts and a pair of capris - half my vacation wardrobe!

I went back to the room and broke the news to Jeremy. A few minutes later, the phone rang from the front desk. I was hoping they were calling about my laundry, but they were calling to say our driver had arrived. What?! We double-checked our itinerary and sure enough - our pickup was at 8am. We both thought it was 10am for some reason. Argh!

We quickly packed our stuff and bolted to the front desk. I started the check-out process and pleaded with the guy to please find my laundry. They had no idea where it was, but finally out of nowhere a guy showed up with it. Still dirty, of course. And, since it sat in a bag for a day, stinky as hell. But at least I had my clothes back!

We got in the van and on the road by about 8:30am. Other than the laundry thing at the very end, our stay at Tabacon was amazing. Really wonderful, though we only made it down to the hot springs once. But we had a lot of adventures.

Our driver's name was Martin, and he spoke almost no English. But, he had a Lonely Planet Spanish guide that he handed to us, so we were able to muddle through a few phrases. He told me that it would be hot where we were going, and he was right! It's not unbearably hot, but it is definitely warmer (and more humid) than it was near the volcano. The ride from Arenal to Puerto Viejo took about 5 hours. On the way, I saw a pineapple field - they grow on very short plants and the pineapple comes out of the center. We also passed a lot of huge banana plantations - mostly owned by Chiquita and Del Monte. They put blue bags over the bananas to make them ripen faster, so you drive past all these trees with blue blobs hanging off them. Banana trees only produce one bunch of bananas per year. Fun fact.

Limon is the closest big city - right on the coast. It seems poorer and a bit harder-edged than the other places we've been so far. There were two HUGE cruise ships parked at the shore; I've never really seen one that close. They are MONSTROUS. I understand why the areas where they stop have a love/hate relationship with them. On the one hand, the tourism helps the economy. On the other, those things must belch out thousands of obnoxious people whenever they dock - and really tax the resources of the destination. Don't even get me started on obnoxious tourists - I have to really struggle to not get irritated by people (especially Americans, I'm sad to say) who behave like boorish idiots wherever they go. Though, to be fair, we did run into some obnoxious Spaniards at Monteverde. But, one thing I really think is important when you travel is to find out about where you're going, and try to fit in and tread lightly. Like, when we went to Italy we brought nice clothes because the Italians tend to dress up a bit more in daily life. And I felt like we blended in a little better - or at the very least were less obnoxious than the people in t-shirts and sneakers. I realize I sound very superior and annoying, but...too bad. People irritate me. I'm a misanthrope. A jolly misanthrope.

Okay, it's now nearly 10am and we are taking a shuttle to Puerto Viejo to spend the day at the beach. When I return, I'll write all about Samasati.

Posted November 14, 2004 8:34 AM | On This Day: 2005 2003