Saturday, September 16, 2006

tWe spent much of the last week in La Fortuna, a city bordering the arenal
volcano national park. The hostel we stayed in is the partner to the one in
San Jose, and although this one does not have its own restaurant, it still serves
beer and is, for the most part, much nicer.

The bus ride there was about four hours, and intolerably hot, cramped, and
smelly. There were about fifty thousand people on the bus, and possibly
fourteen seats. I enjoyed the mixed blessing of a seat next to a sweaty man who
insisted on poking me constantly and inquiring whether I was "England." I told
him I was.

La Fortuna is mostly bars at night; There´s really not much to do once the sun
goes down. We hit a few with some friends we´d traveled with, discovered the
virulent properties of the national liquor (Guaro: distilled from sugar cane,
and tasted vaguely like vodka, only smoother and sweeter. A seething disaster
for a hangover.), and watched the stars come out around the sillouhette of the
volcano.

The next day, We signed up for an excursion through the rain forest. Our guides
were great, and actually managed to call some birds and monkeys. Most of the
really bitchin wildlife was too far away to get good pictures of, but with the
aid of my binoculars we totally watched some spider monkeys kick the crap out
of each other. The wildlife is amazing here, partly I think because this
environment is so unlike home. And is much, much better protected. We saw a lot
of toucans and insects, and throughout the whole walk, the volcano rumbled
ominously.

The hike ended on a plateau with a clear view of the volcano. Since September is
the rainy season, the volcano is almost always under a cloud, but once we got up to the top, the clouds had dispersed and we got to watch hot lava run down the mountain for a half hour. Of course my camera is a woeful failure. Some vaguely ethnic guy promised that he would email me his pictures, because his camera costs about as much as 600 acres of land in Costa Rica.

The Van dropped us off at the Tabacon hot springs, where we ate the worst meal of our trip (my ass did NOT come to central America for the "Oriental buffet." Please.) The hot springs come directly from the river at the base of the volcano, and are surrounded by palm trees and flowers. It looks more like a national park than a resort. It was awesome.

The next day, we did a zip line tour of the La Fortuna rain forest canopy, I will feel the wrath of that harness for many a day. I got some pretty decent pictures of the waterfalls while riding the lines, and since Bobby and I were the only people on the tour, we got to visit the remains of a native village on the way back. We rode horses who were total assholes. It was cool. We went home and drank beer in the pool. We were sore.

On our last day in La Fortuna, we wandered over to the Crocodile farm behind our hostel. Our guide was a fifteen year old who gave a marvelous tour, if what you want is to be laboriously and pedantically instructed on how to say bad words in Spanish. Most of our actual interactions with nature consisted of Juan throwing pebbles at the crocodiles to make them move, grunting, "Fuckin crocodile. Fuck you. You are a bitch. I kill you." We admired his English, as was intended, and for a reward he let us hold a Cayman. They´re to crocodiles what Teddy Ruxpin is to Grizzly Bears. We still liked it.

We departed for Monteverde by the accepted mode of transport, termed appropriately, "Jeep Boat Jeep." I would have liked it better had it been "Jeep Boat BATHROOM Jeep"; Or, "Jeep Boat Lunch Jeep." It was a beautiful journey nonetheless, even though the road to Monteverde is so monsterously pitted and fraught with disaster that the locals must be proud of its infamy. We were forced to stop several times to allow for the whimsy of several herds of cows.

Today we hiked through the "Children´s Eternal Forest." Remember all the coins you collected and fundraisers you did under the auspices of "Saving the rainforest?" Well, you apparently did. All the money came here, and bought a huge tract of land (over 55,500 acres) for a preserve. If you donated a quarter, I saw your leaf today. It was actually pretty amazing. The whole area was purchased and is primarily maintained by second graders depositing fistfulls of grubby nickels into jars. Kind of inspiring, if you think about it. The path was beautiful, and they have these animals here that look like what would happen if a pig impregnated a gerbil. Really strange.

This post is tortuous in its length, So I will refrain from inflicting any more pain on those of you who are still reading. Way to go. If you made it to the end, leave a comment and I´ll give you a prize.
We´re having a great time, our hostel here is beastly, and damp, and INFESTED, but this is cool as hell. I miss everybody back home, I hope to hear from you soon.

E

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