Saturday morning we woke up, ate breakfast, and left to go hiking. We did a hike near the Arenal volcano, between it and the man-made lake below it. We started at this viewpoint, taking pictures, and examining an old shrine in honor of the people who died when the “mountain” first erupted and they discovered it was actually a volcano. Then we walked down a small gravel road along cattle ranches to enter the rainforest. We did a three-mile hike looping through the rainforest and up to a lava rock wall from 1968 above the viewpoint we started at. It was a nice hike but the heat made it more difficult. Everyone was happy to get back on the air-conditioned bus when we were finished.
After a quick stop at our hotel to change and drop off our stuff, we went to the hot springs just outside of La Fortuna. They had twenty-something different pools, of all different temperatures from scalding hot to pleasantly cool. One of the pools had three different water-slides going into it and everyone enjoyed trying them out. One went really slow and people would run into each other going down it. Another went super fast and would spit people out of the bottom, knocking their head against the slide or making them do flip over in the water. Unlike the other two, the third slide was open and went at a medium-fast speed.
The place was nice, but very resort-like. This meant that anything you wanted to buy would be way overpriced. They had the bars inside pools, like in Mazatlan, which was cool, but I had the feeling the place was more a tourist trap than anything super exciting. It was nice, and I’m glad we got to go, I would have wanted to see it once, but I probably wouldn’t have wanted to pay the full price to get in (I’m not sure what that was, but I’m glad it was included). After spending a few hours wandering from pool to pool, we had dinner at the hot springs resort, on the hill up above the pools. The food was a buffet that was decent but nothing great. Some people were able to see the lava rocks from the volcano as it erupted, but there were so many lights it was hard to make out. Overall, it was a nice day.
When we got back to the hotel, everyone decided they wanted to go out. We found a driver who would take us in two trips to a disco (what we would call a club) in La Fortuna that he recommended for $3 transportation. Only 3 students didn’t go (that means 26 did) so everyone crammed in the shuttle for a night of reggeaton, salsa, merengue, and other fun Spanish music, drinks, and dancing. I even knew a couple of the songs, so that made it even better (Thank you Sonia for your Spanish music).
We left around 1am since we had to drive back to San Jose the next morning. I went to bed after another cold shower in order to leave by 10am. Everyone was tired, but the bus ride provided a great way to rest up on the way (for most people at least). We stopped for lunch at a place called El Jardin (the garden) and stayed for the first half of the game between Argentina and Mexico. After exploring the garden, the caterpillars, the butterfly garden, and seeing the toucan, we set off for the town of Sarchi.
Sarchi is a small town known for its craftsmanship. We went to a souvenir shop that was huge (and where I found an awesome machete for about $20). Then, we visited the giant ox cart that the town is known for. It was huge and beautifully crafted. The wheels alone were probably 7-8 ft tall. Unfortunately, my camera died when we got there, but everyone else got some great pictures. After the quick photo-op stop, we headed back to San Jose and the Hotel Colaye.
Everyone got new rooms this time around, Alex and I are now on the second floor but our room is still basically the same (it is a hotel after all). It can be frustrating sometimes though because there is no air conditioning, just a fan and a 1sq.ft. window, and the lighting is terrible (only two small standing lights in the entire room). Fortunately, it is a lot cooler here in San Jose than it was near Arenal, though it is still warm and humid. No one is really looking forward to the week of school work ahead of us, but at least now we know that the weekends are worth it. Everyone is looking forward to our next adventure.