Costa Rica, check
Trip Start Jul 11, 2008
12Trip End Sep 30, 2008
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From Ometepe we headed straight into Costa Rica and had the shock of our lives when we stepped off the bus in Liberia, northern Costa Rica, to find a Burger King, a TFI Fridays and a KFC all within 50 metres. We were only about an hour and a half away from the border with Nicaragua but we might as well have flown across the Atlantic. Our second shock was when we checked into a shitty little hostel (sorry for the language, Nan, but there's really no other word to describe it) with saggy foam mattresses and not really even a light, and were charged 22 dollars for the pleasure. 22 dollars!!!!
The next morning we headed out of Liberia asap and made our way to the beach town of Samara on the Nicoya Penisula. Being on the Pacific side, it has some pretty sizeable waves so the town was full of surfer dudes and dudettes and they seem to have infected the place with their chilled out attitude to everything, making it a lovely little place to spend a few days. We rented boogy boards both mornings and caught a few waves the lazier way (boogy boarding is like surfing only you lie down and therefore dont need to poccess good balance or bendy knees). Am definitely going to be heading down to Newquay next summer to try that out again! Other than that, we swam, sunbathed and took a horse ride along the beach around the bay. Scott, being a natural with animals, was annoyingly good at it and looked like quite the cowboy by the end of the hour. I don't think I have the same ability, as my horse only agreed to move if ten year old boys threw coconuts at it, and that was the one time I didn't want it to move at all because I wanted to stay where I was and shout at the nasty little brats in Spanish.
From Samara we tried to get to Fortuna and Volcan Arenal in one day, but it went completely tits up and the less said about that the better. To cut a long story short we had to detour to San Jose for a night and then head back up to Fortuna the next day. We went on a bit of a shameless souvenir rampage in Fortuna, most of which we'll probably decide is tacky crap when we get home but for now the shopaholic in us has been fed. The best thing about Fortuna is the volcano that looms up behind it a few kilometres away. Volcan Arenal has been spurting out lava non-stop for a few years now, and as we were sat on the balcony of our little hostel at night sipping beer we could see the spout of the volcano glowing red.
The next day we took a hike in a huge thunder and lightning storm (I seem to remember someone saying not to go anywhere near trees when there's lightning about, but the trek leader didnt seem in the least bit worried). As night fell we saw the volcano from the other side - the lava flows away from the town, not towards it - and watched the little trails of red slide down the side of volcano in the distance. It moves startlingly fast. I guess that makes sense. We finished out time in Fortuna with a trip to Baldi hot springs. Like elsewhere in Costa Rica, the difference between there and the other springs we'd been to in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala was huge. We are used to little dug out pools with perhaps a small changing room and a cafe if you're lucky, but this was like Bath Spa... Tiles and huge pools and jacuzzis and hot waterfalls and sun beds and massages and wet bars and George Michael singing about Fast Love and all sorts from huge speakers...
i have to go now because the computer is being fixed at the hostel, but anyway we'll tell you about Puerto Viejo and a bit of Panama next time.
See you all soon and keep well xxxx