La Fortuna and Volcan Arenal
23. April: Today we wake up late feeling miserable! We go together for a coffee at a thatched-roof restaurant just around the corner. I set out to try to find a way to get to Monteverde. The air distance between La Fortuna and Monteverde is only about 30 kilometers, but there is a lake and hills in-between and the roads are so bad that the trip by public bus takes something from 8 to 11 hours! There are two other options: shuttle bus and horseback. I check out some tourist offices and there is a bus leaving at 11:30. I rush back to our room since time is short, but still in bad shape and so we decide to stay in La Fortuna for another day. I have never ridden on horseback before and this option immediately appeals to me more than the bus.
I set off once more, this time to get some water and coke. It's not as easy at is seems since there are no general stores or supermarkets to be seen on the main road. In one of the side streets in the local, un-touristy part of town, I find a small shop which also has some biscuits. We sleep through the afternoon, I seem to have a sort of a cold.
I watch her standing outside and she signals me to take a look too, Arenal's actually fully cloud-free!! Is she psychic? I'll never know how she did that, since it is rare that the top of the volcano is free of clouds at this time of the year!
There was a small fluffy baby rabbit in the garden and we had some fun watching and patting it.
We're back at the thatched-hut restaurant, they have bikes for rent at 12$ for a half-day, 2$ for the hour. Don't feel like biking now, and after some dithering (I was hesitating for some reason) we decide to take a taxi to a lookout-point called 'El Silencio Mirador', the taxi driver wants 4000ñ, we bargain him down to 3500ñ. It is quite a distance to the Mirador. He is a great driver, actually looking into the trees and stopping when he sees something: We saw a toucan, monkeys and other birds, and he also had binoculars we could use to look at Arenal.
The Mirador itself is at the end of a rough dirt track on private land and there is a barrier where you have to pay an entrance fee. You have a really great view from it but unfortunately by the time we reached it, the top of Arenal was in clouds again. The driver leaves us enough time to watch. It was such a nice drive that I pay him 3800ñ.
We again set off to look for a trip to Monteverde and land up at 'Cabinas Herbi' who has the best deal at 35$ per person. He himself is a very nice and friendly guy and I would try his rooms if I was to ever return to La Fortuna. By now the sun was setting and bathed the volcano in a wonderful glow.
We had pizza at a pizzeria on the main road in the direction of Arenal, it was clean but rather costly. They had salsa music playing at the beginning and offered us a free drink each. The pizzas were small but good enough. We search for a salsa disco later but have no luck. Back at the room I manage to fix the alarm clock's alarm which didn't work anymore after I had dropped it in San Jose.
I was anxiously looking forward to the horse ride to Monteverde the next day.