The growing volcano

Trip Start Sep 28, 2007
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Trip End Jun 25, 2008


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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Sunday, November 11, 2007

A very bumpy ride from Monteverde had us at the shore of Lake Arenal.  An artificial lake from a hydro-electric dam, it couldn't be in a better location.

Crossing it on the ferry, the active Volcan Arenal looms in front of you and lush vegetation comes down to the waters edge.

Volcan Arenal reawakened in 1968 and rocks and gas exploded out the side of the original volcano, destroying villages and killing around 80 people. The town where La Fortuna is today was unscathed and was renamed La Fortuna to reflect its lucky escape.

Today the volcano is one of the 10 most active in the world, sustaining 80 eruptions  of gas and lava a day.

Actually comprised of two volcanoes: the dormant and the active, the dormant used to be higher but in the last year or so the active peak has overtaken it.

It is an incredible shape, a very steep cone with two visible peaks, and we were lucky it was not covered in clouds most of the time we were in the area. The intense sunset view of it was fantastic. I kept running out of the internet cafe to photograph it.

Unlike the liquid lava at Volcan Pacaya near Antigua, the lava from Volcan Arenal is solid as silica and sand are mixed with the magma.

We went on a night tour to the western side to see it spurting out glowing rocks that split and splinter as they come down to create a light show. At one point the whole right silhouette looked like it was hung in fairy lights.

Before it got dark we had walked for a short time in a reserve. A long way short of the 'volcano hike' it was billed as, we had seen the profile of a toucan against the blackening sky and fire flies. Overall though, we felt very ripped off.

After that a group of us went to the Baldi resort hot springs. I'd never seen anything like it. There were pools with bars in the centre, flashing lights and loud cheesy pop blaring.  Also more subdued pools all with sloping sides for lying against and some with really cold pools in the centre for resetting body temperature. Another feature was a spa pool with waterfalls to pummel your shoulders and jets so strong joint dislocation was a risk.

It was a massive complex and they were still building more, including a Mayan pyramid and hydro slide.

I knew it really wasn't going to be my kind of place when the changing area had huge mirrors right in front of the changing bench, no doubt to assist you plump and preen for your big night out at the pool. All it needed was a line of makeup lights along the mirror and it would have been a bona fide dressing room.

Still, hot water is hot water and I had a lovely soak, sipping my illegally smuggled in water bottle in the shadows to avoid confiscation. They wanted you to buy drinks there for god knows how many US dollars a sip of course.

When we were leaving the area we saw a toucan and a sloth in the same tree. Fantastic!
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