October 30th and 31th, 2011
The Arenal Volcano has been erupting since the mid-60s, just gently letting lava spill out over the surrounding landscape. It is supposed to be something to see, so I decided to go and see it.
The road was pretty simple, so after breakfast I started towards the Northwest (yes, away from Panama. Don’t worry, it all turned out okay).
The ride was actually pretty pleasant once I got off the four lane highway and onto smaller roads.
I did not have to ride up this river, which was a good thing.
I was headed for the town of La Fortuna, which is pretty close to Arenal, and there was a Hostel there related to the one I had stayed at in Alajuela. I admit to still being a little unsure about Hostels, but the Alajuela Backpacker was pretty pleasant and I thought I would give it’s sister/brother hostel a try.
The gate was closed and locked when I got there, so I checked out the town a little.
After a while I went back to the hostel, it was open now. It was pretty nice, although it was also way more expensive. Like, “I probably shouldn’t even stay here” expensive, which was distressing. For my part they supposedly had a camp option that I should have asked about and didn’t. Why am I lugging that Nomad all over anyway?
But there was a restaurant on site, which served above average and not particularly good food and had American Football on TV.
and that wasn’t all that was on the TV.
I slept fitfully, the room had AC, but it was the kind that needed a remote to adjust, and there was only one remote present, at the registration desk. So for adjustments you had to go and get the guy from the desk, he would bring the remote to your room, made whatever adjustment you wanted, and then take the remote back. It was not a great system.
In the morning I got up and packed. Arenal looms over La Fortuna, but the cloud cover was only another hundred feet up or so, and for the most part the volcano was completely invisible.
There it is…sort of.
But, poking around in my Lonely Planet, I had heard there was a beach (Marino Ballena) on the Pacific coast where sea turtles came and laid eggs in October and November. So I decided to head that way.
Most of the day’s ride was between eight and ten thousand feet. The cloud layer was around nine thousand, and it was raining under it. So it was an odd day of riding up and down through the clouds, rain below and sun above (sun and coldness).
That there be cloud. It was mostly below me at the time, since I don’t take many pictures in the rain anymore. The camera doesn’t like it.
Looking down the mountain.
As I got closer to the beach (specifically the Marino Ballena National Park) I realized I didn’t know if they allowed camping. The I realized I didn’t have internet service on my Kindle for the first time since….Alaska maybe? I had become so used to just looking stuff up on it, that not being able to was something of a shock.
I did some quick mileage calculations. I was in the town of San Isidro. I could reach the park in daylight, but if there wasn’t anywhere to stay I would not be able to get back to San Isidro until after dark, and it was the last large-ish town before the Ocean. So I found a hotel, found some dinner, and found out that you were allowed to camp on the beach inside the park. It wasn’t far, and I was excited to head there the next day.