Volcanos and Monkeys

Published: August 6th 2012
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August 4th - Volcano Walk and Hot Springs!

Lovely place but as we back onto the Jungle Canopy it sure was noisy! In the middle of the night it sounded like every Monkey in Costa Rica was having a party on our veranda! Then the howling started – and I mean howling... a bit like a cross between a very upset dog and a loud donkey. Eventually died down a bit and we went back to sleep – tired today though.

We sat on the back Veranda first thing in the morning and watched the jungle monkeys moving about their business and a toucan on the tree next door (until a very upset Turkey type bird moved it on) and then went down to the restaurant for breakfast. Lovely breakfast – fresh fruit, scrambled eggs toast and pepper – just lovely.

There were people outside taking photos so we popped out and a sloth was moving about. An English guy asked if it was 2 or 3 toed – I almost replied I was photographing it not giving it a pedicure... but hey I'm on holiday.

After breakfast we went back to the rooms and got ready to go out – we had decided last night to either visit the Arenal National Park or to walk the 1968 Lava flow. As it was quite cloudy and you couldn't see the top of the Volcano we decided to do the Lava flow. It was a short drive – less than 8 km and we parked up and went to talk to the attendant. He was a very nice man called Guillermo and he explained the walk was about 2.4 km long. 2.4 km isn't that far is it? Hmmm... try it in the heat up a Lava flow.... though I must admit we got some great pictures and once we had got to the top we were very pleased with ourselves. Going down was interesting ad they had carved steps out of some of the lava flow... and as we got part of the way down it started to rain. Not rain like in the UK – which I'd describe as a sort of light mist – but heavy penetrating rain that soaks you to the skin. So out with the Ponchos and off we went. It was starting to look like something out of Predator and I must admit I expected to see Arnold Schwarzenegger round the corner at any moment!

Eventually we got back to the car park and drinks which was greatly appreciated. A strange thing was that Guillermo wanted all the cars lined up the same way round on both sides of the car park – we couldn't for the life of us think why? We stopped at the gate and he recommended a good place to eat – as we've generally found the recommendations this holiday good we took his suggestions on board.

After we left the car park we drove back to the main road and Christoper saw what I thought were Nepenthes (Carnivorous Monkey cup plants) hanging from a tree – but with my long lens I think they are some sort of bird nest? Will have to look it up when we get home.

Went back to the hotel and had snacks and drinks for lunch. As it was hot and humid it was pool time – so went in the swimming pool and then worked our way through the hot pools (15 of them) until we got to the hottest – which when I got out my skin had gone a very delicate pink colour. The water was lovely though and full of naturally occurring chemicals – if you scrapped your feet along the floor it was like rubbing it with a Pumice stone. Eventually we had swam and soaked enough so back to the rooms to shower and get ready for going out.

We went down to reception and inter-netted while Catherine and Eleanor got ready to go out. The place Guillermo had recommended was called Les Nenes and was in Fortuna about 7km from the hotel. Catherine and Eleanor picked us up from reception and off we went. Fortuna is a real tourist place and clearly aimed at the American market. The road is littered with hotels and restaurants – including a mini golf complex. - which I don't think is a native Costa Rican sport...

The restaurant was in a little back street but it was clean and locals frequented it and the meals were great – proper food – again we are surprised by the vegetables – carrots, broccoli and cauliflower (very European). Very reasonably priced as well.

We had a main course and then as we wanted to use the hotels facilities stopped off at a supermarket on the way back for some ice-cream/chocolate and beer! After we left the supermarket on the way back to the hotel there was a driver in the middle of the road doing about 30km an hour. We were very glad to get past him before he caused an accident. Back at the hotel we popped the ice-cream in the fridge while we browsed the Internet in the lodge – catching up with the news, emails and the latest Olympic stories.

Then back to the cabin/rooms so that the kids could eat their ice-cream – the bigger kids could have their beer and we could all watch a little of the Olympics – in what has been Great Britains best day since 1908! Well done to the British team.

Now as the time approaches 9.30 I can hear the gently snoring Catherine bird – and it will soon be time for sleep. Tomorrow we head off towards the Caribbean coast – which if we got as far as the place we are staying – Punta Uva – is about a 4 hour drive. Tomorrow is the last night we have to find as the last 4 nights on the Caribbean Coast we already have booked – and then it's back via Atlanta... still seems a long way away. Looking forward to another great day!

August 5th – Travel day

Woken up again by the Howler Monkeys – sod Ecology wheres my gun (knife or other killing implement!). We packed up and then went down for breakfast. Again very good – and also surprisingly busy as they had opened up the other part of the restaurant for breakfast. Sloth didn't put in an appearance.

We went back to the room and people made thought about going swimming but decided against it. So we checked out and headed towards Porte Limon (on the Caribean Coast) – long drive – it will take 4 to 5 hours to get there and the place we've rented is another 40 minutes further down the coast. We drove through lush green valleys, green mountains, green whatever, just about everything is green....

We had been advised to try one of the small roadside cafes so we stopped at one with a nice Range Rover outside – if it's good enough for a Range Rover owner then it's goo enough for me! We had some Tortillas with beef and cheese and 5 drinks and it came to a little over £11 pounds. Excellent value and the food was really good. I got chatting to the Ranger Rover owner and it seems he owned a company that made Billiard Tables! He also had a Jaguar XJR and a Land Rover Discovery so wasn't short of a penny or 2.He gave me his card and his name was Wilberth Viquez J. and his company www.billarespunis.com very interesting.

Soon after this we joined a bigger road heading to Port Limon and even though it was over 100 km away we managed a steady 80 km an hour.

Port Limon is nothing special – massive port town, containers littered everywhere. We did little more than a toilet stop before we carried on.

Once we had left Port Limon the road brings us alongside the Caribbean Coast – and the other side of the Gulf of Mexico. The sea looked great – and there was surf!

We drove down to Cahuita past a sloth sanctuary – ahhh. This is a really laid back part of Costa Rica... very different again from the Pacific Coast – which has an American feel and the Central Highlands which is made for tourists – this is much more Caribbean in nature.

Tried a couple of hotels but they were full and eventually saw some Cabinas advertised – with pool and WiFi – for one night until we move into our villa I think that will do nicely. Particularly when they work out at $25 a head including breakfast.

Unpacked a little – then into the pool – while certain members of the party WiFied. Pool was nice – the place had been bought about 8 months ago by a French family from Toulouse who had emigrated. They were now speaking French, English and Spanish!

Rooms were small but spotlessly clean – we'll see what breakfast brings!

After cooling down and relaxing after the long drive we decided to eat in Cahuita – so drove the 3 km back. Before we left we could hear the Howler monkeys settling down for the night – Johnny wheres my gun.....Parked right in the centre of the village and went to one of the local restaurants. Food was ok but they got Eleanors food order wrong – which is a bit of a disaster when she eats at normal pace compared to the rest of us gannets... We'd finished before they brought her correct order.. so watched as she eat – made some people hungry again!

Stopped at the Vaz #2 supermarket and bought some sweets and water for later.

Then back to the Cabinas for more Internetting and the couple of beers I'd also bought...

Eleanor and Matthew sloped off to watch the rest if I Robot – Christoper was internetting and Catherine was checking out the bed...

So another fun day done. We've done a lot of Costa Rica now – people are incredibly friendly – if you talk to them they will spark up conversations.

Tomorrow onto our last stop at Punta Uva.

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