Costa Rica November 2001

November 17, 2001 – November 25, 2001

We flew into San Jose Airport around 1pm. We had arranged that there be a driver waiting for us in the airport to take us to our hotel by the Arenal Volcano. This drive should’ve taken about 3 hours, but it ended up taking a lot more!!!

The roads going to the Arenal Volcano area are dirt roads in very poor condition. They are only one lane in each direction with a lot of pot holes – HUGE pot holes. When there was a bus or a big truck coming in the opposite direction it’s necessary to get out of the way and give them room to pass, but that’s difficult without an area to move over to. There were no painted lines to separate the lanes, and to avoid the potholes they drove on the side (or middle) of the road had less. While we were on our way to the hotel, it started raining really hard. When we got to a point where we had to cross a bridge, the road had completely disappeared. The bridge didn’t exist at that moment, it was completely under the water and it was impossible to cross, so the driver had to take a different road. It ended up taking about 6-7 hours to get to the hotel, but in the end it was worth it. The driver had taken a road that went through little towns. We got to see people outside their houses, kids playing in the rain, the types of houses the people of Costa Rica had in this area, etc. We got to see the "real Costa Rica", not the "touristy Costa Rica".

We finally arrived at the hotel, got checked-in and went to our "room". We had reserved and paid for a private room with bathroom, but were given a room in the backpackers lodge with shared bathroom. We decided to go to reception, which was a 10 minute walk away, outside in the pouring rain, and try to get the room we reserved. After about an hour of Satcha talking to the people in reception, who didn’t want to give us a private room because they claimed that we didn’t pay for it, and the travel agency back in Milwaukee, we finally got our room. He told me later that when he was checking out the bathroom in the backpackers lodge he saw a HUGE spider and he thought I would freak out if we stayed there -- he’s right, luckily I didn’t see it!!!!

We had a lot of fun and did a lot of sightseeing in the Arenal Volcano area:
  • We saw the volcano.
  • We went hiking in the rainforest around the hotel where we found a beautiful waterfall.
  • We went to the hanging bridges and walked in the tops of the trees in the rainforest.
  • We went white water rafting, which was very fun!!!
  • We went to the hot springs. This was incredible!!!! I’d never experienced anything like this. It was a beautiful environment with the luxury of relaxing in natural hot springs

After spending 4 days at Arenal Volcano, we went to the beach area where we stayed at an all-inclusive beachfront resort in the town of Tamarindo (north-western Costa Rica). The water was pretty cold and there were a lot of waves, but we braved it and swam in the ocean. We went on a kayaking tour one day, which took us around the coast where the inlets were beautiful. They were deserted areas surrounded by trees…we even heard monkeys!!! This was the relaxing part of the trip; we sat around the pool during the day, went walking around the town and basically did nothing!!!!