Pulpology: Mark & Sonia's Intercontinental Absurdities!

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18 July 2007
Waterfalls and Volcanoes and Hot Springs, oh my!
A busy turista day
I am getting more exercise on this trip than I ever thought possible. Definitely better than sitting in a beige cubicle staring at a computer, no doubt.

First stop was a trip out to the Reserva Ecológica Catarata Rio Fortuna. We´d been warned that the walk out there was mostly uphill and not-so-nice, so we grabbed a cab ride from a funny little guy who jabbered at us in Spanish the entire time. He insisted on picking us up at 11:30 after we´d hiked the falls, and wouldn´t take no for an answer so we gave up trying.

oktapodi digs the Catarata Rio Fortuna We did get plenty of exercise from the hike down to (and course back up from) the enormous waterfall. It started out as a leisurely stroll over a bridge or two, but rapidly devolved into a downward spiral of a million crumbly stairs. It was totally worth it, though. The waterfall was AWESOME in every sense of the word. Powerful spray, strong current under the falls, beautiful river flowing over huge rocks and down to a more tranquil watering hole with fish. (And of course the obligatory dog... how the heck did he get down here???) Of course we jumped in for a swim under the falls -- after all, the prohibition against it was merely a "recommendation" -- and the water was FREEZING! There was a pretty good-sized crowd there, and it was funny to watch everyone´s shocked reactions as they jumped in.

another "life doesn´t suck" momentBetween the strong current and nipplicious temperature, it wasn´t possible to stay in the water for very long, so we got out and tried to dry ourselves, which was tough to do in the wicked spray. But it *was* tremendously relaxing, or rather not so much relaxing as tremendously invigorating and cleansing and energizing to be in the presence of such a force of nature.

William knows 10 uses for a heliconia plantBack to Gringo Pete´s (which wasn´t such a bad walk, downhill) and just barely enough time for a quick change of clothes before our 3:15 volcano/hot springs tour. They picked us up right outside our door, and our guide William was incredible. He was a native of the area who´d been around for the 1968 eruption and hikes the "dangerous" side of the active Volcán Arenál  regularly. He had some cool stories and pics from various rescue missions as well as anecdotes about tribal uses for various plants found in the forest on the slopes of the volcano. He decided his life would be a lot easier if he learned English and joined the tourist trade, which was almost nonexistent 20 years ago when the first backpackers strolled down the streets of La Fortuna and the locals opened up their doors and windows to gawk.

The view of the lava flows was mostly impeded by torrential rains and low clouds, but we were still able to see a few red chunks rolling down the side of the mountain. Even standing
in the pouring rain, shoulder-to-shoulder with tourists from every country around the world, it was still pretty dope.

Baldi Hot Springs And so it was a welcome relief to get to the hot springs! A bit smaller and less crowded than the nearby Tabacón, Baldi Hot Springs is a series of mineral pools lined with natural stone, heated by the nearby volcano. Each is a different temperature, and some have waterfalls or swim-up bars. Julia and I decided it looked a lot like something out of "The Flintstones," like someplace Wilma and Betty might go for their spa treatments. Sadly, we couldn´t persuade the cheesy Tom Cruise-wannabe waiter flipping liquor bottles to give us any free drinks. But e
very once in a while when the clouds cleared, you could get a quick glimpse of the glowing red cone of the volcano right next door. Sweeeeeet.

Posted by soniaz at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments
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