Volcan Arenal

Volcan Arenal is the world's third most active volcano. It's been in eruption for several years. The weekend trip to Arenal took forever. We started from Playa Flamingo at 8AM, and by 2PM, we'd reached lunch in the village of Arenal.

 

Costa Rica enacted a disasterous homesteading policy in the 60s. People started clearing land to get title, then flipping the land instead of farming. When the law was changed 20 years later, Costa Rica had lost 40% of its forests. Now it's doing well on being green. Lake Arenal is manmade for hydroelectric power.
There's also a wind farm on the lake's Eastern side.

 

Our guide Eric said this was the only good place in town. We were all whispering "kickback". It took forever to cook lunch for the group, so there was a lot of quiet grumbling about a wasted day. Eric redeemed himself that night, though. The Arenal crew. I ended up rooming with the guy third from the left. I couldn't place his accept. He spoke Faroese, which might or might not be closer to Old Norse than Islandic is. I only knew of the Faroe Islands because I once worked with a stamp collector (Jeff Crown) who specialized in them.

 

Today, even volcanos come with warning signs. Stayed in this motel. The peak is shrouded in clouds almost always, so we didn't expect to see much.

So we went on a nature hike. They call the trail "El Silencio", but no one told the howler monkeys. I think the guides in Costa Rica are underemployed biologists--they know everything about the plants, animals and geology.

Erik the guide (gesturing in center) was telling about housing prices, which have reached US levels. His house doubled in value. Then his wife left him. He didn't want to get into why, so I made up a whole story. He sold his casa linda (mistress's cottage) to buy his wife a European vacation. His mistress showed up at his house, furious. Of course, his wife wouldn't believe a word he said, and cashed in on the houses. In the mean time, his mistress found a sugar (baron) daddy and went to Europe. Toucan spotted along the way. There's also a species with a three-color bill, which Eric called Tucanus Frutis Loopis.

 

Start of the cloud forest
All of these hikes were aerobically challenging. Got several good workouts. This was Trail by Escher--you walk up steep hills for two hours and arrive at your starting point.
Top half of La Fortuna waterfall
Bottom half

 

La Fortuna waterfall. The water was middling--in the 60s I'd guess.
Downstream from the pool

Here's how Eric redeemed himself. At 11PM, on the bus back, he asked if everyone wanted to drive around the mountain to the volcano observatory to see if anything was visible. we did, and when we got to the active side of the mountain, the clouds miracuously parted for five minutes. A conical orange haze of lava was visible at the peak. Three streams of lava ran down the sides. Every few seconds a boulder would get thrown, tumbling up to 2/3 of the way down the mountain, the exploding. My camera wasn't up to the low light.

After all the hiking, we soaked at Baldi Hot Springs. As I had been warned back at Playa Flamingo, the springs were more of a theme park than springs. Here's one of several wet bars.
Spanish lesson

 

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