Costa Rica Days 6-7 The grass is greener
You may have noticed that we have been missing in action for the last couple days. Well we made a bit of a road trip inland to Arenal, home of an active volcano. I guess we figured since redoubt didn’t blow, that maybe we would get to see one here in action. We had no internet access in the abyss, I apologize. So this will be a long one.
The first thing we noticed, the farther inland you go the greener it gets. It also gets quite chilly, I mean we had to put up with temperatures in the low to mid 70s, it was quite torturous for Playa Flamingo residents such as ourselves. The drive itself was about 70 miles and 4 hours. You drive much slower here, and the last 1/2 of the drive was through windy roads with about a dozen one way bridges, similar to the road to Hana in Maui.
We had a great time there and stayed in a place recommended by our host, known for its hot springs, Arenal Parasio. It was a full fledged resort based on the volcano Arenal, with a myriad of activities available to all. We chose to participate in three, the mineral hot springs, the canopy tour, and little horseback riding.
We started with some time in the hot springs, and that was extremely relaxing. There were about 15 different springs you can sit in, and the farther up you went, the hotter they got. They are said to offer healing and rejuvanation to the skin, and I think they greatly helped progress the healing of my scarred noggin. We enjoyed they peace and quiet and view of the volcanoe, and they piped in music to each spring. There were very few people and we had each spring to ourselves.
The next morning I scheduled a canopy tour, which to expatriats, is a zip line through the jungle. Unfortunately it rained all night long, the first moisture we have seen since we have been here, and it rained hard. So we cancelled our early tour and scheduled a later one. The one we did had 11 zip lines. We were in a group of 6 tourists. It was funny, I noticed as we walked up to the staging area, gear on, the line was very quiet and somber, almost like a funeral. By the end, we were all buddies, laughing and goofing off, funny what a life experience will do to a group.
The zip line was breathtaking, literally, it took your breath away. I had visions of a nice slow leisurely tour above the jungle, looking at beautiful scenery and taking pics. Alas, I was greatly mistaken. Zip means fast, very very fast, and yours truly was first up. I should have had a clue when 3/4 of our 10 minute safety briefing was spent on how to stop and “never stop with you feet, I don’t ever want you to use your feet to stop, you could get hurt, don’t use your feet”.
Needless to say, it was an expierence of a life time . Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to hold a camera during the trip, but I tried. Prior to going they load you up with equipment including a beautiful hard leather glove, again for stopping. One side effect of the glove, when it is wet out, they leak and they leak all over you and your face, nothing like a leather juice to add to the experience. That made the whole experience exciting, the rain and fog dripping, and smacking you in the face at mach 3. Oh another thing about stopping, you are suppose to start stopping when you see the signal from one of your two guides, the trick is you have to see the signal. Some of the zips were so long and through so much greenery and rain and fog, that you may not see him until it was too late, then you were in panic mode applying the brakes. It was exhilarating. Tracy was very scared, but she did awesome and even had enough courage to keep her eyes all the way open by the last 1/2 of the trip. I even saw her smile several times.
After cleaning up and having a bite, we decided it was Tra’s turn to pick, she picked a horseback ride up the volcano. Now in my mind I pictured a nice easy horse ride, where the guide pretty much does everything and I just have to sit in the saddle. Tra loves horses and riding, me not so much. If it doesn’t have a key to start it, then it is not my thing. I have never really ridden a horse, nor have I desired so. Well I cannot say that anymore. Now let me make something clear, before each activity we sing a statement saying that we know this is dangerous and that we could die, but I have done that in the states as well. So I assumed they we would extremely safe like in the states, harnesses, pre-fabricted trails, more like the mini horse ride at the fair. I could not have been farther off. Our guide gave us a 5 minute demo of how it is done in Costa vs. the U.S. Apparently there is a difference, I really couldn’t tell.
The ride was fantastic, hard but fantastic. We went down some steep valleys, and up some steep valleys, we galloped and trotted and rode, In fact a couple times Tra and I went the wrong way, our guide had to call for us. So there was no close watching or tracking. We had complete control. You could tell the horses knew where to go, but they also had their own minds and would do what we told them to do. My horse loved to eat, and he ate the whole way, and got ticked at me when I told him to move. I also had to learn on my own that when you gallop, you should put some weight on your feet, if not, they go flying out of the stirrups, just like mine did.
By the end I was a full fledged goucho, and I now know why gouchos walk bow legged. After the ride, we were both in pain, especially in our horseback riding regions. I apparently have a little saddle rash, not sure what that is, but I know I don’t like it. It sure would have been nice to sit in a hot spring, but we had already checked out and had to head home.
What we learned:
1. Bring long pants for horse rides
2. Bring a light rain jacket for Arenal.
3. Take your time and enjoy the view.
4. Never trust sugar free ice tea.
5. Mineral springs rejuvinate the skin.
6. It is awesome to explore.
7. Sometimes, the grass is greener.
There is so much more I could write about, but this one is becoming much too long. We are still alive and loving it, and just trying to figure out how to get all the kids here with us. Here is a video of a copule of zip lines. Pura Vida!