Day 1 of a tour around Costa Rica

John and I just got back from a two adventure that was, of course……amazing. Roy, who lives in this condo complex has a number of jobs, including managing the condos,  airport transportation, working with his cousin Hans and is also a tour guide.  He, was born in Costa Rica  but was living in New York for a number of years where he learned to speak English and  recently moved back to Coco Beach and will take people around to see any number of great sights.

We decided to do a 2 day trip to see a couple of different sights and get the lay of the land. So on Saturday morning at 7  AM we climbed into Roy’s Toyota 4 X 4 and headed on our way. We first went to a waterfall, that is managed by a small town to raise funding for the local school where they provide lunches and books. For a $1 US per person they provide access to tourists to come and see the waterfall, take pictures and a dip.  Roy is very keen on doing what he can to help the local economy.

The roads in Costa Rica are absolutely horrible and small distances can take forever, having to go slowly to avoid dogs, cows, potholes, washed out bridges etc so the drive in from the “main” highway takes about an hour to get to the waterfall along dust covered,  dry insanely bumpy roads. Once there,  a small trek to the waterfall which seems to appear out of no where.

After a quick dip, we headed on our way to a Pet Sanctuary where the entrance fees help maintain animals that have been abandoned or confiscated from their owners. They had an assortment of pets including monkeys,  parrots, ferrets, ocelots, jaguars etc that require feeding and housing because if they were set free they probably wouldn’t survive.

Leaving the sanctuary we drove to Canas and had lunch. It was a typical “Soda” which is a local restaurant with great but inexpensive food. Roy recommended the casadas which are (of course) beans and rice, salad, potato salad and something. We had among the three of us, chicken thigh,  fish filets and pork spare ribs which were cooked on the BBQ. Included on the plate was also some sweet plaintain that had been fried and really tasty. Here are a couple of shots of Roy and I as well as the local church which was directly across the street.

When we finished lunch we drove onto “Arenal”  which has a large lake and active volcano that overlooks the town of La Fortuna….see the blog post “Ceviche under the shadow of the Volcano” coming soon. Another amazing thing about the roads here is that there is no direct road anywhere so even though you can see your destination such as the volcano right in front of you, it will take forever to get there.  The drive from Canas to Arenal takes about 2-1/2 hours on really bumpy roads and going up all the way. There are a number of spots where the road just drops off and if you miss the turn…..well you only miss once.

We arrived at La Fortuna where we checked into our hotel which was small, clean and utilitarian and had a small pool. This hotel also included a hostel which is a large room with lots of cots where Roy spent the night. The hotels and a number of the attractions provide free/cheap lodging or food for the tour guides which helps everyone. We had a quick drink at one of the bars before going to the Hot Springs which are geothermal and heated by the volcano.

Heading back into town, Roy took a bit of a break from us and we had a quick trip through town and had dinner at the “Lava Lounge”…..what an appropriate name. The town is definitely touristy and there were a number of foreigners and people selling souveniers which is all part and parcel of the sight seeing adventure. We were really lucky with the weather which was hot, clear and blue sky all day long. Once we got into town the fog started moving into town and the top of the volcano could barely be seen.

However, I have to say that this was only day 1 of our adventure and day 2 was (if possible) even more exciting. See our next post and it will knock your socks off……it certainly did mine.

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