Bumpy road to Paradise

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Central America Caribbean » Costa Rica
December 26th 2010
Published: June 26th 2017
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Geo: 10.4797, -84.7156

This was our second full day in Costa Rica and we planned the longest trip for today. We headed northeast to see the Arenal Volcano and enjoy the hot springs, but our first stop for today was at a combination Butterfly and Toucan House and gift shop. We visited the butterflies first, but saw only a few. Most of the ones we did see were large with a beautiful blue on the top and a grayish brown underside. There were a few others, too, but this was not a particularly worthwhile stop just for the butterflies. However, they also had a toucan in captivity. We all walked into the cage with the toucan and were able to stroke it's soft belly. The toucan was very tame and would step onto anyone's arm if they just placed it in front of the toucan and pushed up gently on it's body.

This stop was about an hour into an expected two-and-a-half hour trip. The road is very windy and bumpy so I was glad to get out for a break. The next leg of the trip turned out to be sorta nauseating and just a little bit scary. The road winds constantly and the van bumped along almost all the way. That part wasn't much fun, but the a/c worked and we endured. A couple of times I saw some near misses on the road when cars were passing on blind hills, but we made it safely. Our driver for the day was Memo. His van is older than Chico's and not as comfortable. Chico wasn't available today.

When we arrived at the Baldi Hot Springs, it was after one o'clock so we took our lunch first--a buffet that had been picked over already. But we weren't there for the food anyway. We found the towel concession and locker rooms and changed for a relaxing afternoon in the hot springs. They were wonderful! The parking lot looked really busy when we arrived, but the place is huge and seemed to be much less busy on the inside. We just wandered from one pool to another as we liked. Erin and Yvette tried the water slide, but they each said that the tamest of the slides to choose from was still pretty intense. The hot tubs were just fine for me. We had arranged to be picked up by Andrew and Memo at 5 p.m. which came all too quickly. I left thinking that the unpleasant ride up to the hot springs was worth it. I don't understand how I can be so tired after just sitting in the hot water and enjoying the rush of the waterfalls on my back, but I leave pretty wiped out.

The ride back to the resort was better than the ride up. I think Andrew must have asked Memo to take it a little easier, or it was dark and trafficky so he had to slow down a bit. Anyway it was better. We had planned on going to the viewing platform to see the volcano, but it was so cloudy that we knew we wouldn't see the trail of red lava flowing down the mountain. We just headed back. We made a pit stop in the town of San Ramón and went into the local mall, Mall Plaza Occidente. The stores were similar looking but different brands than ours, and the food court had several familiar sights--KFC and pizza and burgers. We just stayed for a few minutes. When we pulled into the parking lot, the attendant handed Memo a card. I thought that it was to show the time we entered and we would pay when leaving. Actually, we we left, Memo just handed back the card to the attendant, who turned around and handed it to the next person arriving. Andrew explained that the card was to prove that we had entered the parking lot in a vehicle. Anyone trying to leave in a car without the card would be accused of stealing the vehicle.

Dinner tonight was a North American menu (pretty good) followed by the Men vs Women show. Erin and I watched part of the show, but the emcee translated very little so we missed some of the jokes. Ninny, the clown/acrobat from another show, now became a magician. He asked men, youngish, strong-looking men, to come up on stage. After a lot of playing around, he got them to sit on stools with each one facing a different direction out from the center. He laid each head down on the next one's legs, then removed the stools and left them in position as a human table. It was a pretty good trick, especially since he was using reluctant volunteers from the audience. I've seen that trick done before, but by professionals, so it was impressive that he used amateurs. Also, one of the games on stage was called the Human Jukebox. Eight people were in a row, and when the emcee pointed at them they had to immediately start singing a song. It could be any song, but it had to be different from any others used. Kinda cute. They used mostly Spanish language songs, of course, but about a third of them were English language. It's hard to get away from English. They seemed to have fun.

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