Thursday, February 9, 2012

Adios Arenal

On our last morning, as we walked up that damn hill on the way to breakfast, we passed an agouti next to the sidewalk. Then from the lodge's deck we were able to see quite a few large birds as the grounds crew impale hunks of fruit on a tall stake for the birds to eat. The clouds had not cleared to show us the entire volcano but everything else was on display.
 Dayne and I joined a small group from the lodge for a hike around their extensive grounds which finally gave us a chance to see more of the areas, like the pool and gardens. We found that even the Arenal Observation Lodge had it's own hanging bridges.
We immediately spotted a couple of Toucans, Mot Mots and more Agouti. Farther in we spotted Howler monkeys, about 5 in all but they were so high up in the trees that I couldn't get a good shot of them so here's a great picture of the Toucan!

The property also has a nice waterfall which we hiked down to, not as steep or as far down as the one at La Fortuna, it was still very pretty and with only a few of us deciding to venture to it, it was quite peaceful.
Over 2 1/2 hours we made our way from gardens to jungle to farm lands passing many beautiful plants, flowers and trees. The farthest point from the lodge is a working farm and here we boarded a funny cart which was pulled by a tractor for a "traditional" ride back to the main grounds. If you happen to stay at AOL I highly recommend going on the hike, it's complimentary and takes off each morning at 8:30am.

Back at the Casona we packed up while enjoying the sun and the amazing views of the lake. And we cheered on the volcano to let go of it's cloud cover but it didn't pay any attention to us. We arranged for a taxi to pick us up and take us to the car rental shop in La Fortuna. Here we had a bit of an issue with the folks at AOL who told us their car was being used and it would be $25 cash for the cab and they wouldn't call our cab until they had cash in hand. Geez! So we complied and about 30 minutes later a truck with the AOL logo on the side came and picked us up. The driver didn't speak English so we never got our cash back and when I emailed the company later I was told there was a miscommunication and that was the price for their car, a taxi being more. Hmmmm. We felt a bit jilted for sure.

After grabbing the car we had a pretty good lunch at La Choza de Laurel which is a big open air restaurant known for their casado's - big plates of grilled meat, rice, plantains, beans and vegetables. The food was good and it was cheap but the service was like molasses- don't go here if you are on a schedule. We weren't on a serious time line but it was going to be a very twisty 3.5 hour drive to Tamarindo, which was putting us to arrive after dark- not ideal but still doable.
We loaded up and hit the road, saying goodbye to the cloud forests and volcanoes and headed to the beach. We drove around Lake Arenal to the north and then due west to the coast. We'd have to wait till the morning to see our surroundings but our condo was huge and we were excited to experience another new area!

All photos of Arenal can be seen here