Saturday, January 18, 2014

Costa Rica: Arrival and First Adventures

Friday, Jan 17, 2014

We arrived in Panama City at 2:20pm. When we walked out of the airplane, it felt like we were in a sauna. Here I am, black turtleneck, long sleeves, and heavy long sweater. How did all the other people dress for the weather and they boarded the plane in Chicago in freezing cold weather same as us? I took off my sweater. Now I am carrying my coat, scarf, sweater, backpack, purse, and luggage. Next time I will layer clothing in such a way that I can be in a summer outfit upon arrival.

Costa Rica...arrived at 3:45pm.  Cloudy here with drizzle. This special guy Adrian spent 4 hours with us, driving us to our hotel in Fortuna. He told us that Costa Ricans are easy-going, friendly people. They commonly use the phrase pura vida to describe how they’re feeling. He drove us up a mountain 3800 feet above sea level on the way to Fortuna. In fact, we were driving in the clouds, and at times it got quite scary winding in and out on a narrow mountain road in the fog and rain.

Then we stopped to have a real local Costa Rican dinner at a small Mom & Pop restaurant (locals call this kind of restaurant a soda). Delicious. We had casado pollo. Casado is rice, beans, salad, and fried plantain. Then you add grilled chicken, beef, or fish. This is a very typical Costa Rican food. Adrian said he can eat that for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So could I.

Finally we arrived at our accomodations for the next two days—Lomas del Volcan (hill of the volcano), a rustic mountain cabin, yet extremely nice, clean, and well furnished. Also, a balcony with a view.
So our first day starting at 6am O’Hare airport, we arrived at our destination after 8pm at our lovely and scenic cabin at Lomas del Volcan in Fortuna. No late night adventures for us...we pretty much went right to bed!

Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014
Woke up to soft rain. Back porch view is BEAUTIFUL… lush and green! I could stay in this little cabin for a whole week decompressing from work and deadlines.

Arenal Hanging Bridges Tour

Since our tour started at 7:30am, we had an early breakfast. It was super nutritious and delicious! Beans and rice, fresh pineapple, passion fruit, and watermelon, baked plantains, sausage (an unfamiliar variety), and some finely chopped vegetable dish.

We had a fantastic guide named Carlos who is passionate about the whole ecosystem. This region is a Wet Tropical Forest (different than rain forest). Some areas near here are called cloud forest. Last night’s mountain drive must have been through a cloud forest. The whole time during our tour, Carlos was always looking for interesting birds, monkeys, trees, sybiotic plant life...all too interesting yet hard to remember all he said. He says he could easily give an eight hour tour, and I believe him. There were so many trees with more than one other plant growing on them, some as a parasite, but others  in a symbiotic manner where one plant helps the other to thrive.

During our walk, we were at three different tiers of the forest. We crossed hanging bridges at each tier of the forest—ground layer, mid layer, and canopy layer.

Both in the tropical forest area and at our cabin, which is at the base of Arenal Volcano, we would normally have great views of the volcano, but alas, the fog has obscured it. Yet I love the mist and gentle soft rain.

As we are sitting at our lovely porch, Tom is noticing so many birds that are different than what we are used to in the US Midwest. So our serene resting place has become a place of bird watching while we are sipping our coffee.