Costa Rica: Day 5

Aug13, 2014 - Miercoles

Today we slept in again. Following breakfast, we met up with our guide, Eduardo, to travel to Cerro Chato.

At first, the trek from the hotel to the Cerro Chato trail was rather easy. Once we arrived at the start of the trail, it become more difficult.

On the way, we encountered a crab (una congrejo). Interestingly, there's a trail nearby named for them that we went on the other day, without seeing any. There were some small waterfalls, though.

The climb up Cerro Chato was steep and at times treacherous. Muddy, rocky, and wet. But not as bad as if it had rained earlier. We paused for breath and water occasionally, with a few pictures here and there.

About an hour and a half later, we got to the top. It was a foggy view of the lake inside the old volcano crater. We paused, then descended inside of the crater. The inner descent was much more treacherous, at times seeming impassable. No time or space for pics on the way down.

On the way down, Kyra slipped into the mud and got her side and inner leg all muddy. Way to go!

At the bottom, we looked about, took in the scene, and headed back up.

Hiking like this is a mix of hiking and rock climbing. Going up it may be so steep you have to use your hands, and look carefully where you place your feet. It takes more strength going up. Going down, you have to look ahead and plan out your descent. Up is pretty much just the challenge in front of you.

Up the crater and down the volcano were rather straight-forward. We met some people going up who were already tired. They left too late, really. It was getting much hotter.

We completed the 5-6 hour trip in only 3.5 hours! Perhaps we didn't linger as long as others, but it did seem we were rather quick.

We attempted to nap after lunch, but were a bit too sore and missing home for that. Kyra had a massage (I insisted).

The massage was located at a separate building. It was a small building with 3 rooms or so. There was a waiting room and two massage rooms. When we arrived, the door was open, and the massage therapist was waiting outside for us. I sat down on a couch to write this journal entry up to the prior paragraph.

Let's just say I got interrupted.

The door was still open when Kyra and the massage therapist went in the other room. I sat, writing, when suddenly I saw some rapid movement out of the corner of my eye. I saw a Costa Rican squirrel, which was brown and red, run through the doorway underneath a screen blocking off the waiting area from a nail salon area.

I pulled the screen back and set it on the floor, angling it to move the animal back outside. Once I found it and scared it out, instead of going out, it jumped over the barrier and under the couch. Great.

I tried everything to get that bugger out. I found some towels and tried to shoo it out. Then I found a bag and tried to scare it out. At one point, it ran straight at me instead of the door, and we had a little dance in the waiting area, with me shaking a towel at it to make it go away.

Eventually, Kyra and the massage therapist were done, and the therapist came out. I had too look up "squirrel" (una ardilla) so I could explain what was going on. At this point, the squirrel was behind a coffee counter, and wouldn't move. The therapist grabbed a trash can and tried shooing it out. It ran under the couch again, and then she somehow got it to leave through the front door.

The whole time neither Kyra nor the therapist heard any of the scuffling. I even moved the couch at one point! And the squirrel frantically tried to escape by going through the window. They didn't hear any of it.

After the excitement at the massage house, we had dinner and a short hike around the hotel grounds.

Tomorrow we return to San Jose.

Costa Rica: Day 4

Aug 12, 2014 - Martes

Today we intended to get up early and do some light hiking, but the howler monkeys stayed quiet, so we slept in late (7 am! - 8 am CDT).

We had breakfast, then sought out our horse guide. We had some small stubborn horses to ride around the trails. Initially, we had to get used to the horses. Mine and Kyra's were constantly vying for "first place". They were a bit difficult to control.

(Side note: I was speaking Spanish to most of our guides, and it was a bit difficult to talk about horse stuff. I didn't know the words relating to horses! I managed to use similar words to get across what we needed to know.)

We saw quite a bit of the grounds. After about an hour, the guide, Herman, asked if we wanted to continue, and we did. We got to a certain point where our guide told us to stop and turn right.

Right? Where? (See picture.)

It was a treacherous path going along a small gorge to the stream below. We were all nervous, the horses especially. We egged the horses on, according to our guide, and descended. It was curvy, muddy, and precipitous. Once to the stream, the water was quite high and flowing rapidly. My horse did not want to cross.

(The last three pictures are looking down.)

Eventually we set forth, and I had to raise my feet to keep them from getting soaked. The horse very carefully trod across the stream. We made it up, and we were both a bit shaken. Kyra followed shortly after, probably with a similar experience.

The other side was not as bad, but still quite tricky for a wet horse. We curved around and passed under a hanging bridge (the one we couldn't cross with the horses).

On the way back, it was like before. We got a very good picture of use on the horses with Arenal behind.

This evening we will take it easy, likely taking a short hike. We have a big day tomorrow scaling Cerro Chato.


In the afternoon we hiked many trails we took on the horses, including one small one called Los Congrejos (the crabs).

In the evening, we went on some trails we visited the second day, and we saw some more animals, including monkeys.

Costa Rica: Day 3

Aug 11, 2014 - Lunes

We woke early to howler monkeys. With no Daylight Savings Time here, the sun rises very early. I decided then we should get up and hike in the next mornings.

We had breakfast, then went on a hiking tour. We saw two snakes (incredibly venomous), a waterfall, large rodents (coperas?), birds, a lizard (salamander?), and two hanging bridges. Oh, and a toucan, too! The tour guide spotted these tiny snakes; I don't know how. We saw a farm toward the end, and rode a tractor wagon back to the hotel.

We had lunch, followed by a nap. After the nap, we went with another couple, Tzvi and Ettie, whom we had met during the morning hike, on an evening hike.

First, we drove to a spot where monkeys congregate. We saw one, and moved on to hike the old lava flow, which was fortunate because the trail from the hotel was closed, unbeknownst to us. It started to pouring on our first attempt to hike the lava flow, and we had to wait under the guide shelter.

It was very rocky, with lots of pebbles on the path. Tzvi and Ettie had a bit of trouble (they're older). At the top was a spectacular view. We were told there was a town underneath the lava flow... We saw another snake, too.

It was getting very dark, and it was difficult making it back to the beginning of the trail. It had rained off and on, lightly, after the first downpour. One of the hikers fell. I found out she is from Barcelona, Spain.

Finally, we went to see some tree frogs. It was very dark by then, and we needed flashlights. Once equipped, we headed into grassland, passing through a fence. The lady who fell before tried to walk over the barbed-wire gate and tripped over it. She didn't seem to be badly injured, if at all, other than from the impact of the fall.

We saw quite a few frogs, perhaps 5-6. Very small, delicate looking. On the way back, it poured again, and we had to wait by a little shack (two men were inside; it was very rundown). We finally got back to the hotel for a late dinner. Exhausted and drenched, we slept well that night.

Our guide's name was Christian. We found out he would work shifts of 4 weeks or something like that, and he kept in touch with his family by smart phone applications. Otherwise, he wouldn't hear or see them for the whole time. His "weekend" off was coming up soon, so he was looking forward to seeing his family.

Costa Rica: Day 2

Aug 10, 2014 - Domingo

We woke early and had breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Breakfast was not as spectacular as dinner the night before, but it was still very good.

Our flight to Arenal volcano was at 11:45 am, so we left for the airport again. I thought the flight would be fun, but I got very sick (no vomit!) since it was a very small airplane prone to air disturbance. Kyra was sick, too, but she seemed to expect it. I slowly recovered over the next few hours.

The ride from the airport in La Fortuna, a small town nearby the volcano, to the Arenal Observatory Lodge where we were staying was not terribly interesting. About half of it was through an unpaved road that would wash out with the rain, creating big potholes, causing the ride to be very slow and very bumpy. I was glad I didn't drive, not that I was able to, since I was still sick from the plane ride.

We arrived and ate sandwiches from the airport, then rested. After, we made it to the pool and jacuzzi -- it was very beautiful. We explored a bit and had dinner at the hotel. A travel group arrived at sunset, and we watched it with them.

That night we slept better, but still a little rough. Some of the birds were quite loud, and the howler monkeys woke us up the next morning.

The volcano is gorgeous. It's shrouded by cloud often, but we had a few clear views. It's not too hot or humid. Really, lovely weather. No scorpions so far!