Day 3-4: La Fortuna

by - July 23, 2009

Team photo in a waterfall outside La Fortuna

Day 3 - Thursday 23rd July 2009

First glimpse of rural Costa Rica
Our first excursion from the relatively normal San Jose began today.  We got up at around 5 and aimed to get to the bus station at quarter to 6.  The bus for the town of La Fortuna in the north of the country left at 6.15.  The bus itself was fairly nice, with plenty of room for luggage, leg room and comfy seats - quite unlike my stereotypical image of the buses of Costa Rica, though the seat belt was a piece of rope.  The journey was good considering that it was four and a half hours long.  At a halfway point we had a break to buy some snacks.  The views out of the windows were good, but by the last hour of the journey we were all a bit hot and sweaty.  The bus arrived at just past 11 o'clock and we headed off for the hostel we had booked - Gringo Pete’s.  Unfortunately when we arrived it was discovered that he had a reputation for robbing and kidnapping people - so we swiftly moved on to find another one.  This took quite a while with everyone searching, but we eventually settled on (left blank in diary - sorry), which cost 8 dollars each.

After arriving and sorting ourselves out, we set out on our first trek - a fairly easy hike to a nearby waterfall.  The walk was quite interesting, as we got a bit of a glimpse of rural Costa Rica.  One of the major sites was a stream of ants carrying leaves to a nest.  The waterfall was very impressive and perhaps even better was the fact that we were able to swim in the pool at the bottom amongst the fish (which we tried but failed to catch).  The people making the dinner (my tent group + Mr Thorp) got a taxi back to cook the meal of pasta and tomato sauce, while the others walked back.  We ate together and spent the rest of the evening doing our own thing.

Day 4 - Friday 24th July 2009

Had probably my best night’s sleep on the trip so far in the double bed next to Daniel (in our separate sleeping bags before you ask).  Yet another early start (5.40 today) as we were off on a hike up to the nearby Cerro Chato - a volcano next to the famous Volcan Arenal.  Breakfast consisted of fruit and bread.  Unfortunately my tent group’s gamble of getting exotic fruits backfired as we ended up eating what we later found out to be raw potato.  As a consequence of this, the first stop on our hike was at the local supermarket where we stocked up on sweets.  The first part of the walk was the 4km to the waterfall we had been to yesterday.  Once we got to the waterfall we had to pay to carry on the hike.  Frustratingly, as soon as we had paid, the cloud came down and it started to rain.  The setback didn’t deter us however and we carried on up the trail.  It got steeper and was very wet from the rain.

Things got worse however when we reached the rainforest section of the trek.  As first experiences of the rainforest go, mine probably wasn’t too great - a near vertical climb up muddy, semi-steps in the rain.  We persevered however despite the unpleasantness.  About three quarters of the way up, Danie’s knee went, so he hobbled back down with Mr Thorp.  The rest of us carried on up the trail and reached the crater’s edge for a dinner, cooked on the trangias, of baked bean pittas.  The spectacular views of the crater were somewhat spoiled by the mist - we couldn’t see anything.  The walk down was easier and we got a taxi for the final bit.  Got a bit of admin done in the evening and had a meal at a local restaurant.

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