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Published: August 20th 2006
Arenal Volcano, Jardin Zoo La Marina, Termales del Bosque, Manuel Antonio, Playa Dona Ana, Las Musas and the town of San Ramon… These are the places we visited during Craig’s first visit to Costa Rica. He experienced the climate changes throughout the country and got to see wildlife in native habitats, in a rescue center and in and around our home. He made friends with the local kids near our house and spent time with them getting to know the culture. All in all Craig’s first experience in Costa Rica was diverse and exciting.
Craig, our twenty year old son, arrived from Port St. Lucie, Florida by way of Orlando and Miami on American Airlines August 8th for a two week visit. We drove to the house only making a brief stop for bagels in San Jose and a roadside gift shop area off the auto pista. We chatted and caught up a little the first night then headed up to Arenal Volcano on Wednesday morning.
La Fortuna was cloudy when we arrived so we weren’t able to see the volcano. Bill and I feared this trip would resemble our first to the volcano when we didn’t see
Sangre de Cristo plant
The blood of Christ plant. Bill's favorite by far for the heart shaped markings on the underside of the plant.
it at all in our two day visit. We got lucky this time as after we checked into our hotel, Roca Negra ($35 per night, 2 double beds, no extra charge or hassle for dogs) the clouds began to rise and we could see the top of Volcan Arenal. We ate a pizza on the way to the night viewing areas in hopes of having dinner and a show but the clouds did not cooperate. We didn’t get to see the night eruptions on this trip but in our three days we saw plenty of the volcano.
Our second day in La Fortuna we decided to do the Arenal Hanging Bridges ($20 per person, Callista age 10- free). AWESOME experience! http://www.hangingbridges.com
There are several ‘hanging bridges’ suspended on cables and other ‘normal’ bridges thru the rainforest. We got lucky and had a beautiful day for the walk. Bill carried our backpack with rain jackets, etc. just in case the weather turned. It was a little heavy but great practice for his upcoming adventure to Mt. Chirripo. We admired the forest while we walked viewing a waterfall off one bridge. On one bridge a troop of howler monkeys decided to
Monkey at Arenal Hanging Bridges
I still have yet to capture a good pic of a monkey. It's my mission now!
view us. Apparently, we were a great source of amusement as they stayed and watched us for quite awhile. The hanging bridges are something I’d recommend them to anyone heading to the area. Keep in mind this was our third trip to Arenal and we find something different to do each time. Take your own rain jackets, just in case, as they charge way too much for them at the gift shop.
Returning to the hotel from the bridges seemed uneventful as I searched the trees for animals without luck. Bill suddenly slammed the breaks as two tour busses were stopped on a curve. He spoke a few choice words then ate them as we all saw why the busses were stopped. A family of coati’s were playing on the side of the road. There were six or seven of them climbing branches and posing for tourists. Bill pulled in front of the busses and I got out to snap a few pics of my own. One coati found me interesting and separated from the pack to come and pose for me. Really cool!
Back at the hotel the kids swam while Bill enjoyed watching U.S. programming on
the hotel television. (At our house we have Direct TV which has Brazilian programming. He hates it! ) We ate dinner at restaurant in La Fortuna. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name but it was a great place if you have kids. You can order pizza, (which the kids did) baby beef (Bill’s choice) or excellent salads (my choice) or chicken and much more. We saw two local police bring in two whole fish which the kitchen promptly cleaned and cooked for them. In my opinion they had everything a family with children would require to satisfy everyone in one place. We returned to the hotel after filling our bellies and turned in early. Well… Bill stayed up a while hoping to see The Sopranos but to his dismay it was an episode from their second season. We do miss renting Soprano episodes at our local video store in the states. Bill settles for Desperate Housewives to fulfill his drama needs now.
We left La Fortuna on Friday heading back to San Ramon thru San Carlos and Aguas Zarcas. Bill decided since we were passing right by our favorite, Jardin Zoo, it was worth a stop. http://www.zoocostarica.com/welcome1.html He is
Watching from our room
The family watching for the clouds to clear from Arenal Volcano. Excellant view from our hotel.
in love with Tapirs. Don’t ask me why but he really enjoys watching them. (Jardin Zoo La Marina is 8.5 km northeast of Ciudad Quesada, route between Palmera and Aguas Zarcas, $2 or $3 and worth every penny). I was hoping to see a sloth in the trees this time around (it didn’t happen). We all had a great time at the zoo. The highlight had to be the rehabbing monkeys. Craig’s favorite was ‘Crazy Mary’ who really showed signs of the trauma of her former life. We all laughed watching her crazy dance but it is really sad when you realize that due to her trauma she isn’t able to act like a ‘normal’ monkey anymore. I have hope for Mary and am grateful to all the volunteers at the zoo who take care of animals like her. My plea to everyone… please do not remove wild animals from their habitats OR purchase animals who have been taken from their homes.
Not far from El Jardin, continuing on our route to San Ramon there are areas with thermal waters. One we see on the internet is El Tucano Resort, not my taste exactly just as Tabacon Resort in
From the observation area at the Arenal Hanging Bridges. $20 per person, Callista free.
La Fortuna is not my taste. We headed a little further down the road to Termales del Bosque, http://www.termalesdelbosque.com. (Entrance for adults $8, children $5). On previous visits we had gone to Baldi Hot Springs. This place beats Baldi by far if you like a more casual natural atmosphere. If you are the spa type stick with Tabacon or Baldi for the more price conscience. For nature and fantastic prices…go for Termales del Bosque. We did not take advantage of their spa facilities but saw other guests after their massages and mud masks who were very pleased.
It was tough ride the rest of the way home after such a relaxing time at the hot springs. We drove home thru Zarcero where Craig got the see the famous topiaries, (No pics as we didn’t stop) and the beautiful coffee and cattle country that lays between San Carlos and San Ramon.
It was a great first adventure for Craig in Costa Rica. We spent the weekend relaxing and planning our next trip, Manuel Antonio. I’ll continue with a new blog on that adventure later. Time to start today’s adventure now!
Jen, Bill, Callista, Bear and Craig
We had to stop on the road as two tour busses were stopped. This is why.
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