Friday, April 29, 2011

4/24/11: Alajuela - La Fortuna, CR. 6 hours, 100 miles.






Head out of Alajuela to take a tour of Doka Coffee Estate a little ways out of town. Get lost on some backroads, but I find the place about an hour after leaving. The tour is awesome, I am a nerd for shit like this. And nw I know how and where good ass coffee comes from. I buy some beans and souvenirs for my folks and have a bunch of free samples of coffee at the end of the tour. I also get the email of the super cute tour guide (we had been talking amongst ourselves in between stations during the whole tour), which reminds me I need to stop being slow and send an email/Facebook find her, before she forgets who the hell I am.
Next, I head to Volcan Poas. It is like a larger, deeper version of the crater lake at Irazu, so I hear, and as I wind my way up yet another mountain, it gets foggy and pretty cold. I dont mind, Ive been in some pretty hot weather lately. At the entrance, the girl working says that fog has set in and I probably wont see anything. Apparently, if you dont get there in the morning, the fog rolls in and you dont see doodoo. She said I could buy a ticket and try to see something, or return tomorrow on the same ticket. I think for a minute as the line of cars builds behind me, and in a rare move, I decide to pass. I've seen so much, including a similar volcano yesterday on this long trip, and while I am still doing what I can to see various things, my mind is set on going home. I leave feeling a tinge of remorse, which quickly disappears as I head toward La Fortuna, and yet another volcano, Arenal.
A couple of quick hours later, after some of the best mountain/waterfall scenery Ive had so far ( and losing pressure for a moment in my back brake pedal - scary), Im getting closer and closer to La Fortuna, with Volcan Arenal looming in sight. It is impressive, I can see why it is the most visited spot in CR. Unfortunately, the spectacular lava flows for which the volcano is known has stopped a few months ago. The volcano is completely dead right now, no puffs of smoke, nothing. LA Fortuna is nice enough, and Arenal Backpackers Resort is really nice, clean, big, with a great swimming pool and AC. I see a BMW 800GS from England parked in the lot, with stickers all over it, obviously on a round-the-world trip. I meet Joe and his sister a bit later on. They are doubling up for a couple of weeks while Joe shown her around CR. Joe has been from England through Africa, and all the way up through South America, now on his way through Central America and up to Alaska. Pretty cool stuff. I take a walk around town, which is completely set up to take tourists on tours. I realize that without the volcano spewing lava, my disdain for hiking, my not wanting to go to the hot springs in hot weather, and having already seen plenty of nice waterfalls, I wonder what exactly Im doing here. I am already planning to head to Monteverde to go ziplining. I've already paid for 2 nights though, so I will have to find a way to keep myself occupied for an extra day, which shouldn't be to hard.
The next day Im hanging out in the pool talking to some folks and I figure I should do something. They talk me into paying 9 bucks to go see the Fortuna Waterfall, promising that I wont be disappointed. Im not, it is awesome. There are 422 steps built into the side of the jungle and the views on the way down are awesome. At the bottom, the waterfall is crashing down hard as hell, its really powerful. I cant imagine what its like in the rainy season. The water is clear and really cold, in a good way, and I try swimming into the falls, but the current pushing outwards from the crashing water is too strong to overcome. At one point the few people who are there have left and I am the only one there. I savor the moment and head back up the jungle stairs, back to the bike and back to La Fortuna, completely satisfied. I blog, go out, eat, all that stuff and get ready for the ride around Lake Arenal and down some more bad dirt road to Santa Elena/Monteverde for one purpose alone - to go ziplining.

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