Up to CostaRica, 2022 main page

Wednesday December 7: Boston to San Jose

Friday December 9: La Fortuna

Thursday December 8: San Jose to La Fortuna

I Wish I Grabbed My Big Lens

We slept fine last night, but not as long as I would have liked. I woke up around my normal time, but due to the time zone difference it was about 5:30 rather than 6:30. We stayed in bed until the alarm at 7:30, but I don't think I really slept for those two hours.

We got up and had a leisurely morning. Breakfast was good, and the service was very good. Based on things so far, this should be a very enjoyable trip. One good thing about doing an organized trip like this rather than just winging it ourselves is that although it costs more, we end up staying in much nicer places than we would probably be staying at if we organized it ourselves.

Today is primarily a mellow travel day, so we're getting a fairly late start (meeting the driver/guide at 10), so that we could sleep in a bit.

Last night was fairly clear, I think, but this morning it is mostly overcast, with a few patches of blue sky showing through here and there.

†- -

We're at the end of a very nice day.

We drove over the mountains and then around up to the north side of the country. About 3/4 of the way there, we stopped for lunch.

I expected that we would do a little looking around, and then have lunch, so I didn't bother digging out my big lens or my tripod. This was a mistake. We spent an appreciable amount of time being shown around this sort of bird preserve with gobs of good bird pictures, as well as some frogs and other creatures. My normal camera lens was really not up to the job of taking these pictures.

Red Eyed Leaf Frog
Red Eyed Leaf Frog

It was starting to get sunny at that point, but it was darker under the trees. They said we picked a good time to arrive, as it had rained a bit that morning. Our guide suggested insect repellant. Amy and I used it, and it seemed to work well. Sam didn't, and later needed to as her legs were getting eaten.

I used Amy's camera a bit, but it was being very frustrating. Often, it seems like it should have focused fine, but then it would focus on who knows what and leave the main subject noticeably out of focus. Unfortunately, while the camera has a very long zoom, it does not have a manual focus option.

The place is known for raising butterflies. We went into a big netted area where we were swarmed by butterflies. They had iridescent blue wings on the inside, but very drab on the outside. Unfortunately, they closed their wings when the settled, so the blue was almost impossible to photograph. On the wing, they moved around too much for a photo, and when they settled, they closed their wings to expose the drab part.

Owl Butterfly whose Wing Looks Like a Snake
Owl Butterfly
Owl Butterfly
Blue Morpho Butterfly
Cacao Seed Pod
Jim and Amy trying Cacao Seed
Butterfly perched on Finger
Hummingnird Nest
"Snake Head" Butterfly

Sam and I were wearing blue shirts, which the butterflies seemed to really like. We had them landing on our shoulders fairly often.

After doing that for rather a long while (and seeing a sloth, a bat, and some other creatures (e.g. a Walking Stick about a foot long), we ended up at a covered pavilion (brand new), next to some bird feeding stations, where we had a very nice lunch, with typical Costa Rican dishes. Of course, there was a lot of bird activity at the feeders.

Covered Pavilion Where We Had Lunch
Bird Activity During Lunch
Aracari Bird at Feeder
Green Honeycreeper at Feeder
Blue Gray Tanager at Feeder
Blue Dacnis at Feeder

After dinner, our guide showed us a butterfly caterpillar, and gave to us to "hold". The thing was huge! It was probably about as thick as my thumb and about 5-6 inches long. I can't imagine what size butterfly it would turn into. It felt really strange crawling on my hand. When the guide gently removed it, I could feel its tiny legs trying to hold on. It felt really strange.

Huge Butterfly Caterpillar

After that, it was about an hour further to get to the Arenal National Park, and our resort: Arenal Springs Resort and Spa. This would be our home for the next two nights.

The place is really ritzy. When we first walked in, they greeted us, let us wash our hands, and then a guy handed us a clean towel (which was strangely enough slightly damp) with a pair of tongs. Then another guy gave us each a fancy glass of juice to welcome us in.

At check-in, he gave us each a wrist band, which functions like a room key that you can't lose. They had piled our luggage in a glorified golf cart, and a guy drove us and our luggage to our hacienda. There was a small glitch, because we couldn't unlock the door, so after unloading our luggage, he drove back to reception, and shortly thereafter returned with three more wrist bands, which this time worked.

Using wrist bands to open the door felt very much like we were in the villainís lair in some James Bond movie.

The room is small but very nicely done. The main room has two beds, and a small TV table. Next to it is a bathroom with the shower being an extension with a low wall, and a small door.

Main Room

We got settled, and then went down to the pools. Amy and Sam wore their bathing suits, and I brought mine.

At reception, they had given us 3 cards, one each. The idea is that you could exchange the card for a towel at the pools, and then you got a card back when you turned in the towel. We had to return the 3 cards at checkout. This was a good way to give us access to the towels without towels "walking away". They also had a changing room with lockers, where I changed into my bathing suit.

They have a series of about four geothermally heated pools, at varying temperatures. The basic idea is that the water flows into the highest/hottest pool, and then overflowed down a chute to the next pool, which was a bit cooler, etc. The highest one was estimated to be around 104F, i.e. hot-tub temperature. The lowest pools had underwater stools placed around a sunken bar (i.e. the bar countertop was only a little higher than the water level, but it was at normal countertop height for the bar tender). They also had some cool (not heated) pools, which not surprisingly were rather empty of visitors.

Poolside Bar
Sam in pool
Jim Chatting with Strangers
Jim and Sam in Upper (Hosttest) Pool
Lowest Pool at Twilight
Sam and Jim in Lowest Pool
Amy Under Small Waterfall
Sam Under Small Waterfall

After hanging out in the warm pools for about an hour, we went back up to the room, got cleaned up and changed, and then went down for dinner.

Restaurant with Christmas Trimmings

This is a very nice, ritzy place, and I am enjoying staying here. I'm sure it it pricey, and we would not have picked here to stay if we were winging it ourselves.

Tomorrow we will do a hike in the morning, and then we'll be going through some rope bridges up in the canopy. Then it will be back here to do some more hot-tubbing before dinner again.

Up to CostaRica, 2022 main page

Wednesday December 7: Boston to San Jose

Friday December 9: La Fortuna