After a long, bumpy drive full of run-ins with crazy Tico drivers, wrong turns, and long stories, Paul, Cam, Brit and I all made it to La Fortuna around 7:00 pm on Friday night. We quickly checked into our Arenal Hostel Resort and headed to Baldi, a resort where you get a full Tipico Buffet dinner and can swim in the pools fed by natural hot springs from the nearby Arenal volcano and order drinks from the swim up bars.
It was a bustling tourist attraction, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed. The hot springs were mostly relaxing, but one of the large slides was less a slide and more of an encircled free fall into water. Not so relaxing. The resort was a maze of hot springs of various temperatures, pool sizes, and attractions. The pools close at ten, and after the long day on the road, we didn’t take long to fall asleep once we were back at the hostel.
In the morning, we wanted to see more of what La Fortuna had to offer, so we ate breakfast at a nearby Soda and investigated our options. There is a beautiful waterfall nearby so we decided bypass the advertisements for canyoneering, climbing, and whitewater rafting to check it out. After a relatively steep, partly unstable hike down, the towering waterfall was a beautiful site. The water was cold and we went for a swim before hiking back out the way we came.
By the time we got back to the hostel we walked around town, made it back for lunch time and happy hour at the hostel bar so we ordered food and drinks before relaxing on the hammocks at the hostel and getting back on the road.
A few more hours of crazy Tico driving, missed turns, and long stories brought us to Espriritu Santo Coffee Plantation in the rain. They didn’t seem to be taking full tours out in the rain, but the nice guy who met us at the door was happy to tell us everything he could. He hastily pulled out some coffee for us to try and shared his 21st cup of the day with us. He eagerly told us everything about growing coffee and showed us a video about the co-op for the growers and pickers in the area. After teaching us about tasting coffee, he took us to the gift shop to taste coffee liquor and Costa Rican grain liquor. I don’t know how the last one was coffee related, but he was really happy to take a shot of it with us and we aren’t a group to turn down free liquor. We bought enough coffee to make my bag the seem like the bottom-less Mary Poppins bag, except mine only has bags and bags and bags of coffee in it. We wandered around the planation to learn more about growing and all agreed this this little gem was one of the best stops on our trip. Then we were off again to find out hostel in San Jose.
We checked into our hostel (that conveniently had a free shuttle to the airport) for our last night before heading into down town San Jose. A far stretch from the remote beaches of Nosara from where we came, the streets of San Jose were bustling in the night life. But we quickly got lost in the maze of one-way streets that make little sense; five lines going eastbound before one going west and scarcely a street sign to be found. The prostitutes became our guide posts as we drove around the city in circles for about 2 hours before finally giving up, finding public parking and a cab to take us to an awesome hostel with great views of the city from its rooftop bar and restaurant. As we sat on the rooftop, we shared food, drinks, and stories of our trip and prepared to say goodbye the the country and culture we’d been learning about, traveling through, and taking in for a week and to each other as we journeyed our separate ways.
The next morning, we bid Paul farewell as he left for Xela, Guatamala to learn medical Spanish and work at a clinic. Then Brit, Cam, and I flew back to Fort Lauderdale where we finally parted ways: Cam and Brit back to South Carolina, and I back to Texas to begin studying for my bar exam.
One day back home and I already miss the sunsets on the beach. Pura Vida.