Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Out of San Jose Arenal Volcano Observatory Lodge, La Fortuna, Costa Rica, Saturday, 18 January 2014 7:00pm

Adrienne arrived in San Jose last night, and got a lot of good tips from the taxi driver who delivered her from the airport to the hotel.

We set out early this morning by bus, winding our way from San Jose through Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna, the town nearest the Arenal Volcano National Park. The bus would probably have been reasonably comfortable, if it had been limited to only as many passengers as it had seats. As it was, the aisle was full of standing passengers, and I could barely move my legs during the four hour trip. After lunch and a few errands in La Fortuna, we caught a cab to our hotel, the Arenal Volcano Observatory Lodge.

Adrienne's goal of seeing all of the animals got off to a good start. There was a coatimundi by the side of the road eating a frog and the taxi paused to let us take some pictures. The coatimundi is a small animal that looks kind of like what would result if you grabbed the nose and tail of a raccoon and stretched. After polishing off its frog, it came over to the taxi to see if we had a snack for it, sitting on its hind legs and putting its paws up towards my window. I explained (in Spanish) that I didn't have any food for it, and it let us go on our way.

After checking in to the Lodge, we joined a friendly Canadian family for a "Lava Walk" tour that was about to set out. Our guide pointed out many of the birds of the region (and set up a telescope so we could get a good look at them). The toucan was my favorite of the bunch, but the crested guan (a turkey relative that flies) was pretty neat too. We hiked up to where the 1968 eruption buried a village with more than five stories worth of rough volcanic boulders and had a look down at Lake Arenal, which was created to provide hydroelectric power. It meets a significant fraction of the country's energy needs. Back down in the lowlands, we went on the hunt for some frogs of our own. We found two tiny tree frogs, and, after our guide searched high and low, a larger red-eyed green tree frog, which is the one on all of the souvenirs.

It was drizzling lightly and quite misty, so we still haven't really seen the volcano. Our tour guide told us that the cold front is expected to pass tomorrow, but, until then, we had to be satisfied with the non-volcano-observation amenities of the lodge, which included a pretty good restaurant and a heated jacuzzi pool. Very soothing after a cramped bus and a hike.