This morning, we got up early to begin our first full day of Costa Rican adventures as a complete group. Our destination for the day was three hours north of San Jose in the town of La Fortuna, where there are quite a few activities centered around the Arenal Volcano and Lake.
|Strategically hiding the van parked behind us|
Keeping our priorities in order, the first stop of the day, once we arrived in town, following our three hour drive, was to get lunch. We chose a local “soda” with large ants as its mascot, called Soda La Hormiga. Most of us ordered some variation of rice, beans, and chicken. Tanner ordered a hamburger (for which the “fritas es necessito”), but was a little disappointed when all they brought him was a hamburger bun without the patty. Apparently “plain” doesn’t translate well.
In all seriousness, Tanner’s Spanish (as imperfect as it might be) has been a huge boon for us already in our interactions. He often acts os our goodwill engine, anytime we stop in a new place or interact with someone, quickly making new friends.
The first activity of the day was a visit to the Arenal Volcano National Park, and a hike to some (inactive) lava fields nearby. On the way back, we spotted a bird walking across the path that looked almost tall enough to look me in the eye. He moved along quickly, and we declined to pick a fight. We also discovered good climbing in the Lion King style “tree of life” we passed along the way.
|There's the van|
On the way out of the park, Tanner drove over what looked to be a turtle crossing the road, which elicited shouts of indignation from Katy and Kasey. Kasey said, “He spun like four times!” Tanner was insistent that it was only a leaf, but made no headway. Have you ever heard a dad threaten to “turn this car around”? Well, Tanner actually did. And wouldn’t you know it, we returned to find... a leaf.
Our next stop was the La Fortuna waterfall - our first glimpse of which was stunning. Not wanting to waste any time, we quickly descended the 500 steps to the falls and jumped into the pool below. It was one of the craziest waterfalls I’ve ever had the opportunity to be that close to. A few of us tried to swim into the base of the fall itself, but were unsuccessful due to the incredible amount of current pushing outward from the base.
|A 200ft drop is difficult to capture|
We started the long drive back home and had gone about half an hour when Haley realized she had left her phone in the bathroom at the waterfall. After a few minutes of strategizing, we decided to return, hoping someone would still be there and she could retrieve her phone.
|Our turn around point - one of many one way bridges|
On the way there, we started devising various plans to retrieve her phone, if by chance no one was there to assist us. The biggest issue would have been access to the locked bathroom - although Joe was confident he could scale the outer wall and climb through the open roof. Our biggest concern was whether we could get onto the bridge that crossed the ravine at the entrance.
When we rolled into the parking lot, there was a single, elderly man (ostensibly the security guard), sitting in a plastic lawn chair. He looked quite intimidated when our big white van rolled up, the doors flew open, and a few of us jumped out, ready to stage a retrieval heist. Luckily, after a few words of explanation, he looked relieved and produced Haley’s phone from under the counter and returned it to her. We thanked him profusely and then headed home. We arrived in time for a late pizza dinner, and a happy ending to the day for all.