Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Costa Rica Recap : Post 4 : La Fortuna

See my other posts leading up to our trip, and the recap posts: Costa Rica Recap : Post 1 : Alajuela, Costa Rica Recap : Post 2 : La Fortuna, & Costa Rica Recap : Post 3 : La Fortuna

I'm going to make this post easier & just do a Picture Post, with captions below the photo's. Enjoy!

Maria at our Hotel Mayol made another great breakfast. I loved all the fruit I got on this one! This breakfast did not fill James up, but I sure enjoyed it.

A lil guy outside our hotel.

 We really, really just had to see the La Fortuna waterfall. Going into it, I didn't think too much of it. Little did I know, that this part was going to be my favorite part of the trip. I was in for a world of beauty! After driving up & down a bumpy dirt road, we found our destination.

The blue circle is where the waterfall is. The green area to the left is the volcano, and town is to the north east.
We paid the $12 a person to enter the area. Once past the reception desk, there's this bridge. After the bridge, there's a gift shop and a lookout that looks a bit like this:
 GORGEOUS.
 Zoomed in with my camera.
 Obligatory selfie before our hike to the waterfall. Now, I did count each and every step on the way back from the waterfall. I don't recall exactly how many steps there were, but let's just say it was between 550 and 750. It's one heck of a hike, BUT SO WORTH IT.
 Along the hike, we seen so much green & huge trees!
 Huge, I tell you.
 These were the rougher steps. There are better ones, but this is some of what you'll hike to see the waterfall. Going TO the waterfall, all the steps are downhill. Coming back, all uphill. Make sure you take a cool dip in the water before hiking that hot trek back!
 And this is your first view at the most gorgeous sight in Costa Rica...
 To get close to the waterfall, you'll have to watch your step on the rocks.
 This experience was amazing. There was nothing like it, and the pictures don't do it justice. I felt like I was in a different world. I could have stayed there ALL DAY.
 I felt so safe & never once thought about money or crime or illness or any negative thought.
 It was truly a once in a lifetime place. Well, I hope to see it again someday.
 The water was cold, but so refreshing after that hike. It was so clear & blue.
 James doesn't really take pictures on vacation. He leaves that to me. But, at this place, he couldn't help himself. It was just that wonderful.
 I was completely enjoying myself. We stayed there for about an hour & a half, but I could have stayed there all day.
 I didn't want to leave.
 Someday, we'll go back. We just have to. My heart leaps every time I look at these pictures.
 If there was one thing you must see in Costa Rica, it's this place.

 Put this place on your Bucket List. I promise. It won't disappoint.
 Heck, take me with!
 About to leave, so we had to try & get another picture of us in.




 Now to hike UPhill. What a trek. But I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I'd do it every day.
 And, because God wasn't done making this morning amazing, I came across this baby kitten after our long hike! I was overwhelmed with good things.
And here come a plethora of volcano pictures from that day, Day 2:









I didn't get pictures of any of it, but boy did we go on an adventure in between this whole day...

First, we went River Tubing! I'm not 100% sure what the company was, but this website looks familiar...
We researched it the night before & went with the River Tubing/Horseback Riding package. I think it was like $60 a person... ish.
Anyways, when you're on that tar road that goes near the base of the volcano, where the public Hot Springs are, before you get to that dirt road mentioned in my previous posts, you'll see this place:

It's a glass building on the side of the road, with colorful tires in the lot. They took us river tubing first. We were strapped into life jackets & helmets & put on a bus... just James, me, & the 2 guides. A whole school bus to ourselves. We went down some very scary roads, and the school bus only made it more terrifying. I mean, I was sweating bullets. The driver was crazy! But it was kind of an adrenaline rush.
We got to the jump in spot & joined the flowing river. James kept falling off at first, & we 3 kept laughing at him.
Then I fell off.
In the middle of a rapids.
It was scarier than the bus ride. My body was slamming into every rock it could find, all while being under water. I just could not get above water. I was being tossed so violently that I could not catch my footing. Good thing we were wearing helmets, because my head would have been cracked open. When I could get my head above water, I just knew I had to grab the deepest breath I could, only to be pulled under again. Once more, I got a chance to come up for air, grabbed a big gulp, seen the guide frantically charging towards me, & was pulled under again. Finally, I was whipped out of the rapids & the guide pulled me up. His face was probably just as frazzled as mine looked. He got me back on my tube & we waited for James & the other guide to catch up. Once they reached us, we told them what happened. I still, to this day, don't think James knows just how bad it was. But never-the-less, tubing was a blast. In the middle of our ride, we pulled over to jump off the side of the rocks into the deep part of the river.
And just as soon as it came, the tour was over after another rapid float down the river.
Back on the bus, the guides asked us if we'd like to stop at a Native Village, the home of the Maleku Tribe. We thought "Why not?" and our bus made a little detour. We were literally in the middle of the jungle & came upon a grass/mud hut, with smoke coming out of the top. They led us inside, where we sat on a wooden bench. All around us were grass walls & hand-painted coconut shells. In the center of the room was a smoldering fire & something being cooked over it.
Then, out came a Native man, wearing just a piece of leather over his front area & butt area. His hair was long, black, & slick. He was tan, with big black eyes & wrinkles in his face.
And on crutches.
Metal crutches.
What an odd combo, but I suppose they need to rely on the outside world a little. He greeted us & only spoke in his Native tongue. One of our guides translated & it was so hard to focus when there was so much going on in my brain. We were in a Native Costa Rican Village hut, with a Native man, on a floor made of mud, sheltered by walls made of grass, smelling the wood smoke, hearing other Natives close by, speaking in their language. How many people get to see this in the world?

I'd guess, few.

But I did learn that there weren't many Natives left, but many different tribes throughout the country. The man's voice was strong, yet smooth. I was overwhelmed with how amazing this world is.

We bought 2 coconut shells, were given a receipt from a young girl, whom I would guess, helped paint the coconuts, & left. And all I have to show for it, is a hand-painted coconut shell, with flowers & names I don't know written on it.




Once back to the glass building, it was time to horseback ride. I was saddled up with Palmoa, & James was hooked up with Rosito. Our guide brought us closer to the volcano, & we walked slowly, galloped some, went through pastures & jungle, to a river, & back up again. It was a quick 30 minute ride, but there is nothing like riding a horse.
I rode a horse at the base of a volcano in Costa Rica.
Just saying that makes me smile.
You can see our horses in these next few photo's.








I'm a little sad that I didn't get pictures of us tubing, or at the village, or with the horses. But those moments will never leave my brain. It was magical.

They even let us swim at a Hot Springs resort across the rode, while we waited for our ride.The resort was the Arenal Paraiso Hotel, & the grounds were just beautiful. They had a large pool that we swam in, that had a swim up bar. Not only did they have a great pool, but they had natural hot springs pools. Several of them. And they were magnificent. There is something about swimming in natural water, & it's warm water! They also had an area for you to lather up in clay & rinse off.
Yes, I covered myself in the clay, just because I could.
No, I did not get any pictures.
The camera was the last thing on my mind during this whole amazing adventure.

Afterwards, we just wanted to drive around.
So we did.
And we explored.







Further down the tar road (& I mean miles & miles), we kept seeing signs for a German Bakery. Who knew, in the middle of Costa Rica, you'd find a German town, with a German Bakery.
The green area in the bottom right corner is the volcano, with La Fortuna to the east of that. The tar road follows the edge of the lake. I circled the German Bakery area. The road was very windy, but so lush with green scenery!

You can see James exploring in the photo above!



If you take that tar road, you WILL see TONS of signs for Toad Hall. It is a very interesting & cool place, with a killer view. It's a mix of a gift store, hostel, eatery, hang out place, & more. If we go back to Costa Rica, I hope to stay there a night!
We met one woman, who worked there, who was down-right the definition of friendly. I think she was from California. She told us that she took a trip to Costa Rica with friends, and when they all boarded the plane to go home, she didn't get on. She stayed, because she just couldn't leave.
Costa Rica has that affect on you.


After exploring, we had dinner at a seafood place right next to our hotel, the Marisqueria Snapper House. I enjoyed the Ceviche, which is a cold fish soup. I had never heard of it, let alone, ate it. But boy was it good. I'd not describe me as an experienced seafood eater. I am just now, in my adulthood, getting more into fish. We didn't eat it as kids. But I made a good choice, ordering this.

I also ordered a tomato/basil/mozzarella dish. This was also good, but I gotta give it to the Ceviche.


Well, this wraps up day 4 in Costa Rica. Boy, do I have a lot more to go! Two weeks there was a wonderful amount of time.

Got questions or comments about our trip? Post them below! I'd love to help out with planning your trip! Stay tuned for more posts on our trip.

Warm Wishes,
Ash

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