Today we head for the Arenal Volcano. I don't know about you, but when they told me this hotel was at the base of an active volcano, I became a little bit nervous!! Apparently there are seven or more active volcanos in Costa Rica ... it's where most of their power comes from ... thermal energy. I just wasn't up for throwing the dice and betting on eruption or NO eruption!!
I tried to take my mind off the impending doom by photographing a few flowers. The orchids here just grab onto any old tree and bloom beautifully!! I was soooo envious of how they flourished.
Early morning wakeup call came from these guys ... you know, the early bird gets the worm?? Well they were early enough for us to get ready, have breakfast and a coffee break before we caught the bus!!
The previous night we attended a presentation on the Bell Bird, pictured below. It was kind of a sneaky way to get people to reforest the land. Although the logging companies were not allowed to clearcut here, the farmers cut down everything in site. Costa Rica is now trying to reclaim some of that land, plant lots of new trees and save some of the rare species of animals, including the Three Wattle Bell Bird.
The locals watched the touristas pass by!!!
A stop at our favorite "banos" spot for snacks. The bakery here had lots of sweet rolls ... so sweet they were surrounded by honey bees both inside the case and out. I tried a couple different pastries ... definitely not as sweet as ours, but yummy none the less.
As we pulled in, this big guy was sunning himself on the roof. As we got closer, he ducked under the tin into the ceiling below.
The parrot boys were all in their places waiting for the breakfast morsels the tourists provided.
And we are off on another terribly rough, narrow, NOT bus-worthy road to Lake Arenal for an up-close meet with a volcano.
Yup ... 45 foot monster bus and THIS is the road we are driving on. You just had to be there!! When this tour was advertised as a Costa Rican "Adventure", we had no idea that the word "adventure" meant barely hanging on to the cliff with a few inches of tire, on grades that caused the hot brakes to smell constantly!!!
Along the way our guide decided to take a quick short cut so we could see their wind farm. Unlike the ones in the U.S., these were actually all turning and providing electricity for the grid.
On the way down the steps, I noticed pieces of grass moving. A closer look revealed leaf cutter ants carrying huge loads to somewhere unseen. Unfortunately, many didn't make it under the footsteps of 22 people going down the steps.
The further we went, the blacker the clouds got.
As we rounded the corner at the East end of the lake, the clouds lifted and Arenal Volcano came into view. There are very few times that the cloud cover lifts enough to see the cone, but we were blessed today with time enough to snap a couple of pictures.
We headed further on, the clouds parted and we found the locals enjoying the afternoon.
Our hotel was a very fancy resort/spa with the all important air conditioning. A walk-in shower even provided hot water!! Of course I would expect that, being next to the volcano.
Our neighbors Marielle and Jack took advantage, as we did, of the nice rockers in front of each room. About this time it started pouring ... I mean more rain than I have ever seen come from the sky. The lightning was spectacular, followed immediately by rolling thunder. It was nice to be under cover ... but wait! We have to walk the quarter mile to the restaurant!!! With umbrellas in our hands!! With lightning!!! We chose to call the desk for a taxi, but they never showed. We survived the lighting strikes, but were soaked in time for dinner!!
We never did make it to the pool, but it was pretty spectacular!!
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included "typical" rice and beans. Our 51 year old Bell Bird speaker did note that after 51 years, he was pretty sick and tired of rice and beans!!
And plantains! There were plantains at almost every meal. Not being a banana person, I passed these by MANY times!!
Did I mention the currency here is Colones .. I hit the banco for some American money, which the sign said it had ... but three ATM's later the only available cash was colones. The problem is in figuring out how many colones equal $100.00. I made some bad calculations and ended up with $240 worth of colones. Not good when you figure I probably needed only $50. This is a picture of a $40 bill. I traded some with Patty and paid for everything I could with colones ... luckily I came up even and didn't have to pay exchange rates.
Time for a good nights sleep ... tomorrow we go up the river!!!