Volcano Land: Arenal Part I

I have to tell you guys, I went back and read my post (from when I studied abroad) on my old blog...and it sucked. I took hardly any photos on my own and barely left the resort my program was lodging us in. I guess there was no reason to go explore (except, you know, the fact that I was in Costa Rica for a once in a lifetime experience) since the resort had it's own really nice thermal pools and a trail to a volcano viewing deck. Also I was hungover basically that entire weekend -- something I wouldn't admit three years ago but now seems too pathetic to not share. It's strange how much I've growing up I've done from 21 to 24.

Here are two photos I have from my last trip.

Pretty sweet view.

I printed this one out and have it up in my office because I love the colors in it so much.

Anyway, this time was different. First, ain't nobody got money to pay for resort room rates right after graduation/marriage. No one. So I booked a room through the amazing Airbnb. Next, I took photos and even made it to the national park instead of Andrea and I luckily made it out to the town of La Fortuna without a hitch. We dropped off our bags and car and walked around town for a bit. I was slightly hungry so I suggested we split a lunch meal (at like three in the afternoon). We got some of the most yummy chicken nachos I've ever consumed in my life. We followed up the nachos with Pops, a Costa Rican ice cream chain, and ate our melty treats in the town square.

Oh hi there, volcano.
Neither of us were really hungry come dinner time, so we figured we'd at least check out one of the cool looking bars in town. I sipped on a rum and pineapple slush -- and I mean that in the best way possible -- while my sister and I chatted with some friendly locals. They were probably wasted (or on their way) by the time we sat down, but they were all typical Tico-nice regardless. I don't remember any of their names, but one of the guys made a lasting impression on Andrea while talking about footbal and futbol. She and I commented how football is kind of boring to watch because it's a constant start and stop and so slow whereas futbol is fast paced and dramatic. And you know what this guy did? He defended football. He said it's slow because it's strategic.

I'm gonna borrow my sister's reaction real quick and say that I've never heard a football fan defend futbol before. And here was this man who loved futbol (is my lack of calling it soccer pretentious yet?) defending this American sport to us. Take notes, people!

We were back in our room by 9:30pm and I was asleep by 10. The next morning I felt like I was flashing back to every bad drinking decision I made three years ago. But before you judge, know this: I wasn't actually hungover, I was just beyond dehydrated. I think I literally sweat out all the moisture from my body the day before. That's what happens with the humidity is high and you forget to drink water, I guess.

After our beautifully plated breakfast (more than I expected from a hostel), Andrea and I drove out to Parque Nacional Volcan Arenal. We decided to hike up to the observatory point where we could have watched lava flowing had it been 1992 before then looping down to see a 400 year old tree.

After taking in the panoramas that no camera can ever really capture (I suggest clicking through to see the original size of this pano shot), we began the trek to the tree.

Pretty sister.

Baby face central.

Half way through the hike we heard rumbles. At first, Andrea thought they could be airplanes but before we knew it, we heard the sheet of rain start to fall. The weather and rain were warm enough that we could handle walking through it without jackets. We also had the umbrella of treetops to catch most of the falling water. Eventually, though, the rain became strong enough to break through the leaves and we were forced to throw on our jackets. We ended up getting caught in the middle of a decently strong rain but luckily neither of us was upset by it. It was really awesome to be there with my sister. I never once had to worry that the hike was boring her or that she wasn't enjoying herself because of the rain or lack of wildlife sightings. She was perfectly content walking through the jungle, sometimes in silence.

Looking redder than normal.

We came around to the huge, old tree. There's actually not a whole lot to it if you're not easily amazed at old things, but for us a 400 year old tree was worth seeing. 400 years! That's older than the US. This tree was a seedling the year Pocahontas got married (that's just about the most interesting fact I could find about 1614) and survived countless years of volcanic activity and human exploration. For me, that's beyond cool.

This is just half of our day in Arenal! I still have to tell you about the warm river, driving around the lake and eating some pasta I'm still sort of dreaming about.

Until Friday!
♥ A

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