After an excellent night’s sleep we got up at 7am (a lay in! Yay!) to say goodbye to Monteverde and travel to La Fortuna for a relaxing day.
We got a bus (which was very cramped) for a couple of hours to Lake Arenal, and then got a small boat across the lake to bring us to the area of Arenal. Marvin told us about its history, as La Fortuna is his home town. The lake was finished in 1972 and was initially created by the government to produce hydroelectricity. As the population of Costa Rica is only 4.2 million, the country overproduces electricity and then sells it to other countries, including Panama, for profit. Arenal volcano is still very active with four craters at a height of 1700 metres, and although lava hasn’t been seen at the volcano for over two years, it still smokes often so people aren’t allowed up there. The last big eruption was in 1992, and most of the town of La Fortuna had to be evacuated. Tourism didn’t come to the town until 2004. The mountain next to the volcano is meant to look like the profile of a man – Teresa and I spent a lot of time laughing about how realistic it is!
We stopped off at our hotel to drop off our bags, which is called Hotel Las Cabanitas and is very pretty! The rooms are all in individual huts and are really big, with three beds in which is plenty of space for Andrea and me. We then went into town for lunch and I then bought some souvenirs, including a really beautiful picture of the volcano painted and stone-baked on a tile. It is gorgeous but now I just have to get it home!
In the afternoon Marvin took Andrea and me to catch our own fish for dinner! We stopped off to pick up his car at his house which is just off the main street of La Fortuna, and we met his brother and sister-in-law. They seem really friendly and his house is bright purple and homely with lots of photos and pictures inside. It’s really interesting to see how people from different countries live, as although family values are usually fairly similar all over the world, the layout is always different!
We went down to a river in Marvin’s car to visit people who own fish ponds, and we had to fight off piranhas and sharks to catch our fish; it was really hard work… Not really. The fish had already eaten and wouldn’t bite, so the staff helped us get a fish each in nets and then filleted them for us, and we had some fresh fish to take home with us to eat tomorrow! We weren’t sure what type they were – small, silver and originally African – but they were only two American dollars each. Bargain, and I’d never find something like that in Britain.
In the evening we went to some local hot springs, called Los Lagos. They looked basically like a hot swimming pool, with a wet bar and a load of palm trees in the middle. At first I wasn’t so keen, as they were too hot, but then I discovered the amazing cocktails and the hot/cold pool where you can walk from one to the other as a therapy, and in the end I really enjoyed it. Apparently though we are going to some proper, natural hot springs tomorrow (there are loads of resorts in La Fortuna) so that will be interesting to compare.
We had a late dinner at the buffet in the springs, which was pretty nice however I had a slight panic as I managed to lose my cash card somewhere between the changing room and the restaurant. I was worried because there is no chip and pin system here so it would be easy for someone else to use my card, but luckily someone had handed it in to the reception – another lesson learned!
I am about to go and have the few drinks I missed out on yesterday, though it shouldn’t be too late a night as I am getting up early to go kayaking and then waterfall rappelling tomorrow! It should be another adrenaline-filled day.