Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Volcan Arenal

The photos on this blog page are all of Volcan Arenal because a trip to La Fortuna and Arenal is all about that - looking at the volcano!! We left Monteverde on Wed morning via the trip advertised as "Jeep Boat Jeep". This is the fastest way to Arenal because the only roads that go through go all the way around lake Arenal, and this trip takes a dead end road to the west end of the lake then a boat across the lake then another road into La Fortuna. However, the reality is it is a busette boat busette but I guess this just didnt sound interesting enough. The trip took only 2 1/2 hours and was really nice to have a variety of conveyances to interest the kids. The bus trip around would have taken 8 hrs!!! We had decided to spend 2 nights at the volcano on our way out of Costa Rica to try to ensure that we would at least have one night of visibility on the volcano. The first night we spent at Catarata EcoLodge outside of La Fortuna near the Fortuna Waterfall. It was a really nice place run by a local cooperative with a beautiful small pool, great views and a nice simple restaraunt. We would totally recommend it, rooms are in blocks of 3 and very good. La Fortuna itself is yucky - a definite example of how tourism unchecked can ruin a place. The main drag is filled with restaurants and hotels from tacky to worse. Ironically, as if it couldnt stand looking at the hotels any more, the volcan moved its action to the other side of the mountain after La Fortuna was built up. Now the only place to get good views of active flows at night is from the park, or the only hotel within the park, the Arenal Observatory Lodge. We decided to splurge and spent our second night at the Observatory. It was TOTALLY worth it because you are right below the volcano (see photo with our room and volcano behind it) and can hear and see 10 -20 ton boulders spewing out of the volcano all day and night. During the day you hear the loud rumbling nonstop and see what looks like plumes of dust rising from the boulder paths. At night, the boulders and plumes are all glowing red since they are hot lava!! Talk about ideal entertainment for a 6 year old boy! (Cass liked it too!) Periodically there would be a Really loud explosion and a huge plume of smoke would pour out the top, I dont think I would have liked to live there long term!! The kids spent a lot of time in the pool and hot tub with a perfect view of the volcano. They spent so much time in it that Cassidy's hair actually turned green!!
Volcan Arenal is one of the 10 most active volcanos in the world and we feel very fortunate to have seen it. From our rooms deck would sat out in the dark and watched the lava flow. Friday morning, I ran/hiked to Cerro Chato, the crater lake formed in the extinct Volcan Chato then we lucked out and found a taxi from the San Jose airport dropping a fare off at the Lodge so we got a really reasonably cheap taxi to the airport. The trip only took 2.5 hours as opposed to the 5 hour public bus ride we had been looking at. The road was so windy both kids got completely carsick and we had to stop multiple times . Good thing we weren't on a bus!! Flight to Miami was late and immigration took FOREVER so after getting our luggage and renting our car we arrived in our hotel room at 2am!! Toby hadnt slept at all and was totally cheerful and wired and before falling asleeep he sat up and said - mom, can I tell you one more thing? Its 2 in the morning!!"

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