Today is another travel day, after breakfast at the hostel, we journey to Monte Verde. We start with a 45 minute drive to a lake then we transfer into a boat. Costa Rica has no natural lakes so we’re are actually sailing across a reservoir. Our guide on this voyage, Ale, tells us how the volcano erupted and that on this side everything was covered in ash and volcanic rock. The lake is called Arenal, named after Old Arenal, the town that stood here until 1968. The damage done by the eruption was so extensive that they decided rebuilding wasn’t worth it so they built a dam and flooded the area. Apparently when the water level drops you can still see the church spire protruding from the surface. Even creepier is that people dived down and reported they saw the remnants of a graveyard, which would be whole different kind of adventure in itself. Unfortunately the water has become quite opaque down there from silt, making it unlikely you’d ever see much now.
Once we reached the other side we boarded a new bus and continued our trip by land. The road this side was bumpy and the windy had picked up but we stopped after just 30 minutes to eat lunch and watch some adorable ducklings trying to clamber into a little pond. So cute.
We arrived at the small town of Monteverde before lunch and it has quite a different feel to La Fortuna. Here the hotel rooms stood as two story units with balconies overlooking gardens. In La Fortuna we were on the third floor of a terraced hotel that looked out onto the main road and the church opposite. Monteverde feels rural and slower paced.
We went for a meal, a short walk through the village, at Soda Bonanza. The owner greeted us with much gusto and treated us exceptionally well, he clearly knew how to deal with tourists. The chap offered us all a shot of alcohol that contained a turtle egg. It’s supposed to make you sexually virile and one of the boys bowed to peer pressure and, after a to and fro on the environmental and ethical costs of such a thing, one of the guys downed it. He claimed after that it wasn’t too bad but his face was priceless at the time. We ended up shelling out twice as much money for food here as we had spent so far. It was good food mind and the fresh fruit juices came in a glass and a half there was so much of it.
We had no planned activities for the afternoon and several of us opted for a short trek to climb some trees. When we arrived there, sweaty and out of breath; it was all uphill, we were faced with a small queue. These were ficus trees and vines had grown down from the canopy and created a web around the trunk before proceeding to devour the tree. Eventually all that is left are these crazy hollow trees that are ideal for climbing. The turtle egg guy went up to the top and got stuck prompting many jokes about it being due to his newfound ‘virility’. I tried the climb but I’m short and felt that the climb up would be easy but climbing back down was going to be a struggle so I settled for half way.
Later in the day we went on a night walk. It was pretty good but it’s luck of the draw as to what you get to see. I did see two tarantulas which put me on edge as I have a distinct dislike of spiders. We saw a sloth sleeping in the tree, I have to admit it could have been a brown bag or a stuffed bear for all we could tell. Plus I’m pretty sure sloth’s are nocturnal. I think an armadillo ran past but I didn’t see it, I did see an opossum scurry between two trees but it was gone before I could get everyones attention. Our guide for the walk did head off and find a tiny red eyed frog for us to look at. The best part of the walk was arriving at the top of the hill and out from under the cover of trees. There were so many stars to see and even Mars was visible. I could’ve stayed there all night we had to leave to make way for more groups.
A pit stop en route to the hotel for takeaway pizza rounded out the day. As did giving the hotel dog, an overweight pup, a good scratch. Bed time, big day tomorrow and an early start.