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Costa Rica
Friday Feb. 2nd 2001

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My Central & North American Trip 2001
Costa Rica | Los Angeles | Mexico

Were awoken by knocking on the window... very confusing in an unfamiliar surrounding... around 5. Ouch! I didn't sleep too well anyway but to be awoken at such an early hour... was criminal. We made it to the port in time to catch the 6:00 ferry and (and to get our place in line without anyone trying it on.) The ferry crossing was very relaxing as we were both quite tired. Once in Puntarenas we drove around looking for a cafe or somewhere to get some breakfast. We found a bakery with outside tables and bought juice and pastries to keep us going 'til later. The next three hours were spent driving back toward Monteverde as I'd mentioned to Sonia that I'd never seen a live volcano up close before. Sonia wanted to show me the volcano Arenal near monteverde (which actually we'd seen from the tower during our stint of
Skytrekking the previous Sunday.) That three hours was spent listening to the radio and working on my listening skills. There was a hilarious preacher sermon (in Spanish) about a young man who'd lost the use of his body from the neck down who became a famous painter using his teeth to hold the brush. You're right, that's not at all funny and it's quite a serious story but the way it was presented by this baritone Costa Rican voiceover-man was incredibly funny. With phrases such as "Este se puede pasar a usted!" (this could happen to you.) to compound the effect, made it all the more funny.

When we arrived at La Fortuna we scouted for a hotel and after seeing about three we decided on the first one we'd seen. La Amistad (Tel.479-9364, fax 473-9342) was quite inexpensive and in better shape than one of it's neighbours that we also saw, and the lady was very friendly and offers tours around the area as well.
After settling in Sonia took a nap, but I took to the road to see how far it was to the Volcano. Well it really didn't look too far away and it actually didn't take me long to get to the foot of the mount. I really lost track of time and of distance and by the time I'd realised, I'd already been
gone a couple of hours and 14km later, arriving at the gate of the Tabacon Resort. I tried to find a route around the volcano but unfortunately the road that I was following doesn't got around the volcano, but instead veers off past a huge lake. After asking around and finding that there was no alternative but to make my way back the 14km that I'd come I took to the road again. This time I had my thumb out and after a while (and another couple of km) caught a ride with a maniacal furgonetta (truck used for transporting materials such as stone etc...) who surely was driving way too fast for a truck so old, with corners so sharp. We made a stop to pick up some volcanic rock and then he took me to La Fortuna where I found Sonia very worriedly waiting my return. It had taken a lot longer than I'd figured.

By the time I'd returned and taken a shower (and finished off a litre of water) it was time to eat again. On a previous trip Sonia had been to Luigi's Restaurant (and it's also a hotel) so we decided to eat there. We'd decided that the hotels were out of our price range but despite this the menu was affordable. The service was excellent. Our waiter Daniel was an absolute star. Very friendly and very helpful. For the owners of Luigi's - whatever you're paying that guy, he deserves a pay rise. Totally with the contrast between the bad service at the two places in Mal Pais you
could say even that you're in another country.Also we asked Daniel which of the hot springs was good and he told us to mention his name and Luigi's at Baldi Thermae and we'd get a discount. What a star!

After dinner we decided to relax at Baldi Thermae and got there early enough to enjoy a couple of hours in the baths there. There's nothing as interesting as being in a heated outdoor pool in the rain. Sonia relaxed a lot while I, as you could imagine, was swimming in the larger bath and meeting other tourists there. I met an interesting couple from the Netherlands who were paramedic phsycharatrists. Cool! Must be incredibly stressing though. We chilled and got heated up in the baths and shared a fruit shake while chatting to the barman. He told us about eruptions from the volcano that loomed in the distance towering the resorts below. It puzzled me so much that so many people live, work, and build businesses and houses here despite the danger of living in the shadow of a volcano. However the countryside there is beautiful and were there not a volcano there than it quite possibly could be more developed (over developed let's say) more so than it is now. Even now there is a huge number of hotels etc... around the base of the volcano. After our time at the baths, Sonia wanted to take a drive around the volcano and I showed her how far I'd walked that afternoon. Unfortunately it was a cloudy night so we couldn't see any lava glowing in the night. We parked for a while hoping that the clouds would pass and we see something out there in the blackness. Sonia told me a story of when she'd come here with college friends and they'd driven up the trail around the volcano only to get stuck in the mud. So they went to find someone who could help them tow the car out and all they found was some crazy 'gringo' who fearing for his own safety so late at night told them that he had a gun and would defend himself with it. So sonia and her friends sat in the car in the dark with the odd chunk of lava landing on the car roof, until another gringo was kind enough to help them get the car out of the mud.

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