Costa Rica – La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano

Well, the past few days have been quite exciting. Since my last post, we’ve
celebrated a birthday, climbed a volcano, swam in hot springs, and went
rappeling through waterfalls. Pretty amazing stuff!

Tuesday night, the gang and I went to an awesome dinner in Monteverde and
celebrated Tennessee Bo’s birthday. It wasn’t too crazy of a night, although
we did get kicked out of the hotel we were staying at…but they just sent
us down the road to the bar since we were being too noisy. We danced with
some locals for a while and then headed back to the hotel. Against their
better judgement, they still let us stay the night there. The following
morning, we took the Jeep/Boat/Jeep trip from Monteverde to Arenal. It was
more of a Van/Boat/Van trip…but really, who’s counting. The first van trip
was almost two hours along some of the most bumpy roads I’ve been on so far.
It gets really annoying after two hours of nothing but bobbing up and down
trying to stay in your seat. Then we headed across Lago Arenal (that’s Lake
in Spanish) just at the foot of the Arenal Volcano. We got into town and
after playing with a Tucan at a local tourist office, we left to go take a
hike along the Volcano followed by an awesome evening at the Tabacon Hot
Springs. The hike was ok (even though I’m not much of a hiker). Douglas from
North Carolina was our tour guide and we basically just trekked through the
jungle (looking at wildlife and plants) until we reached and cloud covered
volcano….not really good for seeing the Volcano itself or the lava you are
supposed to be able to see at night. Fortunately today it has cleared up and
I’m actually looking directly at the Volcano as I type this email.

The Tabacon Hot Springs were by far my favorite part of the day. Tabacon is
this beautiful resort situated at the foot of the Volcano and has numerous
hot rivers (as opposed to springs) flowing through it. There are about 10-15
different pools that you can go in…each with different temperatures and
waterfalls cascading into them. A lot of them are tucked away in various
areas of the rainforrest. I accidently walked past these people getting
massages in cabanas lit only by a few tea candles. I was soooo envious.

The biggest pool at the hot springs has a swim up bar and everyone lounges
around there and drinks while watching adults go down a makeshift
waterslide. Pretty funny stuff. We had a wonderful dinner at the resort as
well, and when we finally left at closing time, I was pretty much a prune.

This morning, we got up early and went on a rappeling trip through various
waterfalls. It sounds somewhat strange and at first you think “crap, are we
gonna get wet”…but eventually you find getting wet is one of the best
parts about the trip. We did 4 wet rappels (next to or through waterfalls)
and one dry rappel. The first one and the biggest one, crazily enough, was
185 feet high (pretty freaky to look down from the top of the cliff and know
you are going off the side). It was right next to the falls, but somehow,
our buddy Warren got a little squirrly and ended up going straight into the
waterfall. Soon, however, everyone was wet because the next couple of
rappels took you straight through the middle of a waterfall at one point or
another. By the end of the day, we were soaking from head to toe….but I´m
so glad we went because this was the ONE thing that I really wanted to do on
this trip and I did it with a great group of people.

The Yale boys left today, and Tennessee Bo and I are the only ones left in
our crew. We´re going to head back to San Jose tomorrow and then I´m off to
Honduras either tomorrow or Saturday night. So look for my next post to come from
Roatan, a beautiful island off the coast of Honduras!

Costa Rica – Monteverde (my worst and best day so far)

Yesterday I left Montezuma at 8am and did not arrive in Monteverde until
11pm last night. We should have arrived around 5p…but ended up getting
stuck in a traffic jam for 6 hours. The first four, we waited on the side of
the road. The last two had us crawling at a snail’s pace in an extremely hot
bus breathing diesel fumes in an attempt to get past a huge wreck in which 3
people died. After we were past the traffic, we still had another 2 hours of
regular travel ahead…uughhh. Unfortunately, the road system in Costa Rica
is very different than in the States and there is often only one route that
you can take to get from one place to another. Because they closed the road
for 3 hours, traffic was backed up for miles in both directions. It was
pretty crazy.

However, on the bright side, I met some really cool people and will be
traveling with them the next few days. There are the Yale Business School
boys – Warren, Sam, and Manish. They are hysterical, but definitely
overanalyze everything. There is Bo, a country boy from Tennessee. Lastly,
there is Karen, a very boisterous girl from South Africa. We´re having a
blast so far.

Today we went and did the zip line tour through the Monteverde Rainforest.
The zip lines are amazing as most of them take you right over the canopy. I
believe the longest we did was about 600 meters (3/8 of a mile). There was
also a tarzan swing in which you basically fall from a platform and just as
you think you are about to fall to your death, the rope suddenly pulls you
out and swings you forward through the trees. I don´t think I´ve ever
screamed so loud in my life, but the zip line tour was definitely the best
thing I´ve done so far here.

Tonight is going to be pretty chill. We´re just going to hang out at the
hotel, swing on the hammocks there, drink some wine and then probably head
into Monteverde for some dinner. I think a french couple that was on our bus
may meet up with us too.

Tomorrow, we´re taking the Jeep-Boat-Jeep tour to Volcano Arenal, which is
supposed to be a lot of fun, so I´m pretty excited. I´ve heard there are
some amazing hot springs there as well.

Costa Rica – Mal Pais

In the past few days, I was able to head over to Manuel Antonio National
Park…which was extremely gorgeous….a little touristy…but still worth
the trip. I hitched a ride with Ian and Annie (Annie is from Portland and
used to work at 94.7…small world) a couple that was staying in the same
cabinas as us. We took a pretty decent hike along the point and saw all
sorts of things from white faced monkeys to sloths, iguanas to bright red
orange crabs, and tons of other little critters that I have no idea how to
describe. At one point, a howler monkey and I were yelling back and forth at
one another…although I never actually saw him. He was burried deep in the
jungle. The beach there is also beautiful. After a long and extremely hot
hike, we were glad to fnally jump in the turquoise water. I slept on the
beach for a while until I was awaked by an iguana sneaking up on us and
eventually, we made our way back to Hermosa.

Hermosa is pretty small. There is not a lot to do there and as Paul (the
Austin Costa Rican told me)…I should surf, work on my tan, or read a book.
Thats pretty much all you can do in that town…so it was nice to finally
move on to a new place.

After an 8 hour day of traveling yesterday, I have made it to Mal Pais, a
small surfing town on the Nicoya Peninsula. This place is pretty much in the
middle of nowhere. Yesterday, Jason and I took a public bus, what is
sometimes called a chicken bus (not because of chickens, but because of the
number of people they cram onto it), from Jaco to Puntarenas. The bus ride
is an hour and a half through the jungle and luckily, I was one of the lucky
ones to have a seat. Jason stood the whole time. When we arrived in
Puntarenas, we took a ferry to Paquera. The ferry ride was beautiful and we
ended up meeting two girls from San Francisco as well as a Father and
Daughter duo from Ohio. I am starting to see more and more people on this
trip…thank God….probably because we are finally out of Playa Hermosa.
Almost everyone is American, which I am not used to at all when traveling.

The six of us ended up grabbing a taxi to go to Mal Pais which was
definitely a splurge because they were once again cramming a bus full of
people and the roads are so bad….it would have been an awful ride. There
are potholes everywhere….some of it is paved, but most of it is unpaved
and the fastest you can go is about 20 mph. This place is VERY much off of
the beaten path, but somehow, people make their way over here.

We spent a lot of time looking for a place to stay last night…but finally
found a cute little bungalow with two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and a
patio. However, there were quite a few small critters and its very much away
from everything…so Im definitely moving somewhere today. I will probably
head over to Mal Pais surf camp. They have a pretty big restaurant area, a
pool table, ping pong table, swings in the bar, beautifully landscaped
grounds, a pool, and a lot more.

Jason headed off this morning to who knows where. For some reason he thought
this place was too secluded(its much busier than Hermosa though…so Im a
lot happier here). Im stoked to be on my own again though because all he
wanted to do was sleep and surf (I have been going to bed at 9p every night
because it gets dark so early here) and we didnt really meet a whole lot of
new people traveling together.

So now I am off to find a new place to stay and take some surf lessons.

Costa Rica – Surfing in Mal Pais

So I went surfing today. Mick, a laid back Aussie dude, was my instructor.
He was pretty cool…taught me quite a bit. But he pretty much kicked my
ass. The breaks here are beach breaks and they come every 3 to 5 seconds so
you are constantly fighting the water. Everything hurts right
now…especially my back and my legs (I think from walking through the
strong current).

I did pretty well. Got up a lot (even on my first try which was pretty kick
ass). But of course, I was only riding whitewash. Mick left and I went out
twice more (took a break in between). On the last run though my foot hit
something furry and I got really freaked out so I got out of the water
sooner than I had wanted to. I’m going to keep at it the next couple of days
and see how it goes….but the whole surfing experience has really made me
appreciate snowboarding so much more (it just came so much easier to me).

This town is super quiet, but I think I’m finally starting to get out of my
go-go-go mode and relax. Today was the first day I wasnt bored part of the
day and like I said, I think it just comes with allowing yourself to wind
down.

The place I moved to this morning is pretty cool. It has a pool table, ping
pong table, a swimming pool, etc. The pool is gorgeous. After I was done
surfing (I went for about 3 hours), I came back and swam around for a bit.
The ocean water isn’t really good for swimming since it is so rough. Plus,
it’s pretty warm, so it’s not refreshing at all. Only myself and a funny
looking lizard were lounging by the pool (As I said, it’s pretty quiet).
Strangely, I’ve gotten used to the reptiles here.

Anyway, the next couple of days should be eventful. I believe I’m going to a
bonfire tonight, more surfing tomorrow, and then it’s ”Ladies Night” at
Mar Azul….which means chicks drink for free all night. Woohoo!

Costa Rica – Playa Hermosa

After a 2 and a half hour bus ride through the jungle and some weird broken
spanish conversations (hardly anyone speaks English), I’ve made it the
beach. Hermosa is a small town just south of Jaco. The beach is about 1 km
long and there is hardly anyone here but surfers. I thought this might be a
good place to take up surfing…but the waves are so big and strong, I would
probably kill myself. Still, it’s beautiful. Today, I walked around town and
then went and played in the ocean and chilled on the black sand beach for a
bit. I was virtually the only one on the beach besides the surfers out in
catching 4-5 foot waves.

I’m staying in a place that looks like a treehouse with Jason, a 21 year old
surfer kid from San Diego that I met last night in San Jose. We traveled by
bus this morning to Hermosa (and thank God I was with him because we were
the only gringos on the bus). I’m currently sitting in the only bar in town.
There are a couple of restaurants. Paul, a costa rican from Austin, owns
Jammin Restaurante and he’s currently letting me borrow his laptop because
all of the public internet is not working in town. There is one grocery
store and it’s more like a mini mart than an actual grocery store.

The weather is extremely hot and humid, much more so than in San Jose. But,
I’m getting used to it. So far, my blowdryer hasn’t gone to any use. Not
sure if it will any time soon. I’m sure I will probably stay here for a
couple of days…check out Manuel Antonio which is supposed to be beautiful
and then head over to Mal Pais to check out the surf camp there. I’m excited
to get out there. The water is like bath water.