Oct 12, 2012

Costa Rica Part 1: Arenal Volcano

Mark had a conference in Costa Rica for a few days, so we decided me and Henny would join him when he was finished in San Jose and see a little bit of Costa Rican nature.

We arrived at San Jose airport in the afternoon in the middle of a monsoon. Luckily, we had hired a driver ahead of time, and he was holding a sign with our name on it near baggage claim. I was really happy to see him after 8 hours of airport travel with Hen and some rusty Spanish and issues getting through customs. And double lucky, Mark had found the driver holding the sign with our name on it, so I didn't have to worry about finding him. Plus, I felt like a superstar seeing that driver hold that sign!

We hopped in the spacious van and ventured out on the road for our 3 hour drive north to Arenal/La Fortuna. The roads were pretty bumpy, but I would find out later that they were the best roads of the entire trip. Around 6:30pm, we pulled up to our hotel, El Silencio del Campo. I am a thorough nerd when it comes to searching for hotels. I've become even better (or worse, according to Mark) at it since little Hen started joining us on trips. After pouring over tripadvisor, expedia, talking to a few travel agents, and reading blogs, we chose this hotel because it was a) well priced b) offered privacy c) had hot springs on site d) had beautiful grounds e) had top reviews on tripadvisor and f) had nice accommodations (but not luxury).

El Silencio totally exceeded our expectations. We loved that we had an entire cabin to ourselves so we didn't feel so bad when our teething baby would wake up every few hours. The staff was so kind and really took to Henry. Also, we had the grounds virtually to ourselves because it was rainy season. But the joke was on everyone else because it only rained twice while we were there, both times at night when we were already in bed. The hot springs were perfect temperature - like bathwater - perfect for a fat little baby. The breakfast was included in the price of the room, and you could choose from 5 selections. We went with the "tipical", which was rice and beans, queso fresco, and eggs. Gah, I could eat that for the rest of my life!

The volcano was active, but hadn't erupted since 2010 (it used to be a huge attraction in CR because it spewed lava pretty regularly back in the day). We did see a little steam rising, but no red lava like a certain husband was hoping.

On the second day, we took a guided tour from Desafio to the Hanging Bridges, a series of 25 suspension bridges throughout the forest. Our guide, Hansel, was a champion nature lover. He showed us things we would have never been able to spot, like a sloth (!), a family of monkeys, cool birds, an eyelash pit viper, and other creepy crawly things I am trying to block from my memory. Henry loved being in the hiking backpack - he was either sleeping, or just looking around and checking out Costa Rica.

Passed out Henry at the start of the hike.

They call this plant the nun's torment.

The viper! See his eyelashes?

I thought this orchid looked like an older mans head wearing a dress. Do you see it?

 That wraps up Arenal...next up Monteverde!


hanner said...

bouge problems are hard, man (re: the hotel search. we are super picky now too!)

Team O'Connor said...

How fun! That looks like a dream. I love the pictures and can't believe how big your little man is (Henry). Haha. You look great!

emily said...

i love it all. so pretty. your hotel looks super dreamy. what a great trip!