During this section our trip to Costa Rica, I had anticipated zip line, visions of soaring over the canopy of the rain forest within the shadow of Arenal volcano, and I wasn’t disappointed. Each day when I came out of my room in La Fortuna, my eyes turned to Arenal to capture a clear picture, but I never did. I was raised about twenty-five miles from Capulin volcano in New Mexico, so I have volcano-loving in my blood!
Day 8 – January 14, 2020
The day started with a unique breakfast to us in New Mexico—eating delicious food outside, but that was a highlight during this whole trip for me.
Our destination for the morning was Místico Hanging Bridges in the foothills of Arenal volcano. I ended up not taking my Canon Rebel camera because of possible rainy conditions but used my iPhone, and it did rain!
Again, Enrique shared his knowledge of plants and animals along the way and referred to his trusty bird book! He pointed out “Walking Palm Trees” that fascinated me.
Throughout our hike, we crossed sixteen bridges over the rain forest. Here’s a map of the park:
Some longer bridges swayed with the people’s weight and movements, and that was a little alarming. It ended up being a four-hour hike, raining off and on, and my shoes hurt for the first time on the trip.
Standing on one of the bridges, Enrique spied an Eyelash Viper curled up in a tree a safe distance from us—how amazing. I was so glad it wasn’t close to us!
“The eyelash viper, known for its beautiful ‘eyelashes’, is also well-known for its aggression and lightning fast strikes.
An eyelash pit viper bite contains a dose of hemotoxic venom, capable of killing adult human beings and large mammals. Their bright colors help them camouflage in bushes, berries and fruits.
Mostly found in central and South America, this snake can be highly aggressive and fatal when their survival is under threat.”
After our unbelievable trek through the rain forest, we ate a late lunch at the Smithsonian Observatory:
“The Smithsonian Rooms at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa are named after the U.S. Smithsonian Institution scientists who began coming to the area in the 1970s to study the Arenal Volcano. Our lodge was originally built to accommodate the groups of scientists, students and occasional tourists who visited Arenal and La Fortuna, Costa Rica.”“The Smithsonian Rooms at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa are named after the U.S. Smithsonian Institution scientists who began coming to the area in the 1970s to study the Arenal Volcano. Our lodge was originally built to accommodate the groups of scientists, students and occasional tourists who visited Arenal and La Fortuna, Costa Rica.”
I enjoyed arroz con camarones for lunch – rice with shrimp! I added a guanabana shake and coconut flan—what a decadent meal but I enjoyed it to the max!
The view from the observatory deck was breathtaking but cloudy so we didn’t get a clear shot of Arenal volcano, probably the best place to photograph it! We were so close to it there! We ventured out on the deck when it wasn’t raining then ducked back inside. Coatimundis and turkeys wandered around on the lawn below the deck and we took lots of pictures.
On our travels that day, we stopped at a waterfall, but I didn’t go down—the four-hour hike did me in, so Liz and I had a nice visit. We picked up Victoria, got our bathing suits and went to La Paz Waterfall Gardens “The Springs Resort & Spa” for a lovely soak in the many pools and a relaxing evening.
A topic of conversation all day centered on our activity the next day: the zip line. We had some in our group who definitely decided not to go, but a couple people wavered all day, so us veteran zipliners gave speech after speech trying to entice them. Who would go? Who would not? We enjoyed a late dinner at the spa and ended a wonderful day and anticipated another highlight of this trip—zip lining across the rain forest the next day.
Day 9 – January 15, 2020
Zip line day was finally here, and it was a rainy day, but, hey—we were in the rain forest. Three newbies of our group decided to go, and I loved seeing their expressions after each zip line–totally enjoyment and awe!
Lin and I had done a zip line in Juneau, Alaska in 2007 and the equipment was totally different. We wore heavy gloves and used our hands on the cable to break the ride. It was much simpler this time!
Our fun-loving group immediately clicked with the crew at Sky Tram Adventures, laughing and teasing as we had the harnesses and equipment put on. We rode up the hill in a small tramp and received training before we started.
The rules were simple:
- Lean back and knees up
- When the line wiggles (by one of the employees watching you come into the platform), spread your legs as you come into the landing platform to break
- If you stop before the platform, turn around go hand over hand back
So away we went! There were seven zip lines, and the first one was short and easy to practice on. On the next one, it seemed to go on forever and it rained, but my glasses protected my eyes. I traveled really fast on that line and also burned the nail on my right-hand thumb because it was too close to the pulley! I learned where to put my hands and had no more problems afterwards. Then next one, I did some crazy antics: I broke too quickly and then started wiggling my legs. After that, I just let it go and went like a bullet! The workers on the platforms really stopped us!
A couple of people rented cameras mounted on their helmets, so, thanks to Liz, here’s what it really looks like: https://youtu.be/73OjUH09L50
The employees’ shirts said, “Xperience Creator,” and they certainly did it! We had so much fun with Pepe and Juan.
Flying above the canopy of the rain forest, seeing Lake Arenal and the Arenal volcano over my shoulder and enjoying the sight overwhelmed me!
As a group, we bought our pictures that Sky Tram Adventures took and some are included in this post.
That evening after our action-packed day, we returned to The Springs Spa for another great soak and social time with our group. My zip line adventure met all of my expectations.
Day 10 – January 16, 2020
After breakfast, Lin, Marian and I opted not to go on the chocolate factory tour—it was a hard choice, but instead we returned to downtown La Fortuna to shop and enjoy the local flavor.
Lin had square danced on the plaza in 2001 when it was dedicated, so we took pictures of him standing next to the plaque. The church, San Juan Bosco church interested me, so I visited it and took lots of pictures.
After shopping, I topped the day with a guanabama ice cream cone from Pop’s and our time in La Fortuna’s plaza ended.
After our group returned from what was a fabulous tour a chocolate factory, we left the hotel and traveled around the lake, heading towards the beach in a four hour drive. We saw coatimundis a long the side of the road and beautiful lake scenery. We stopped at Lajos Restaurante for lunch on the lake. A short distance from the restaurant, we stopped at a German Bakery for delicious German sweets.
As we drove Enrique continued his instruction about the area we were driving through: We took a shortcut on a rough road and cut off fifteen miles, driving through cattle country. We experienced a change in climate heading towards the dry western side of Costa Rica. We drove along the peninsula of the gulf of Nicoya.
Enrique shared a story of the area: Costa Rica supported Taiwan in the United Nations, so they built a bridge over the gulf of Nicoya, named the Friendship Bridge. Six months later, continental China wanted support from Costa Rica and built a soccer stadium which took one thousand Chinese to build. The bridge became the Ungrateful Bridge.
Sadly Enrique shared the itinerary for the last four days of trip. It hit me—we’re on the last leg of our fabulous trip! Oh, my God!
Then we arrived at our hotel on Coco Beach, Hotel El Colono, and ate dinner at Papa Gallo (Father Rooster), an outside restaurant. It was Victoria’s birthday, so we started a three-day celebration of this big event.
Sometime along the way, Lucy began an enjoyable directive as we loaded the bus, “Lin, get on the bus! Jerry, get on the bus!” This became our mantra for the rest of the trip as we loaded and unloaded the bus . Also, sometime during our adventure, Marian named us the “Dirty Dozen, and we applauded her for our nickname
Whew! We just enjoyed three action-packed days in the rain forest of Costa Rica, and I didn’t want it to end!