Costa Rica Day 5 - Liberia

Published: January 14th 2022
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It’s our final morning in La Fortuna and it rained heavily in the night. The volcano has disappeared completely behind a thick blanket of cloud and our last chance of seeing it in its entirety has gone. Never mind, it’s time to move on to another volcano – Rincon de la Vieja.

Today’s drive is 80 miles, the first half of which skirts the shore of Lake Arenal. So, the plan is to go slow with plenty of photo stops, arriving at our hotel in Liberia around lunch time. By then, the temperature should be 32 degrees. Luckily, it has a pool!

After a breakfast of fruit and gallo pinto (rice & beans) for us, whilst watching the birds eat their breakfast of bananas, we set off. The drive round the lake is underwhelming; there are very limited opportunities to actually see it due to vegetation and even when we can, the road is too narrow and winding to stop safely.

Once we reach the north west corner of the lake, the road takes three sides of a square to join Route 1; the Inter American Highway. Google Maps sends us along a short cut (the 4th side of the square). It’s unpaved, very bumpy and very steep. At the top is an enormous wind farm, and then it’s over the hill to rejoin the actual road. It’s like entering a different world; we leave behind the cool, green rainforest and all of a sudden we’re on the hot, red plains of Guancaste – cattle country.

Soon, we reach the highway and drive the final 25 miles to tonight’s destination – Las Espuelas - a roadside motel in Liberia. We reach the motel 90 minutes before check-in. There is no chance of an early check in. No matter. The old man has important candy to crush, while I decamp to the pool. 100 laps later, we can finally check in.

After the old man has faffed sufficiently, we head into town for a wander and dinner. By now it’s gone 3 and the combination of no lunch and a long swim are taking their toll. A read of Lonely Planet’s guide to Liberia has left us with low expectations. We park up in the centre of town and head for the old man’s restaurant of choice. It’s shut. More faffing before we finally settle on a nearby Indian restaurant (Masala). By the time the food comes, I’m shaking so much I can hardly feed myself. But it’s worth the wait – Palak Paneer; cheese cooked in a spinach sauce with cumin rice.

After we have taken the obligatory photos next to the Liberia sign, we return to the motel for an early night. This travel malarkey can be hard work sometimes.

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