Monday, June 14, 2010


So far, I'm very happy with how today has worked out. We woke up to nice weather. Overcast as always but not raining with some blue sky. Our shuttle came at 8 to take us on the taxi-boat-taxi ride to the Arenal area. We rode through the beautiful Monteverde area and I kind of snoozed most of the way. These bus and shuttle rides really put me to sleep and it was nice to be on a private van and not have to worry about my stuff or missing our stop. There were only 6 of us on the shuttle and it was about an hour or so to Lake Arenal. It is a pretty lake, not as big as some we've seen. Our van pulled up to the lake and there were 4 or 5 other vans already there. Each company seemed to have a few vans and a boat. We all grabbed our bags, mostly backpacks in the whole bunch and we boarded the boat for a nice little boat ride. We had great views of the volcano and overall it was leisurely and nice.
On the boat, they put people in groups based on where we were staying. Most people head to La Fortuna which is the town and then others head to hotels outside of town. It was just us and another couple in our van headed to Castillo on the lava side of the volcano. The other couple didnt have a hotel picked yet so I recommended ours and they stayed here too.
Our hotel is called Essence and its pretty new so its not in the guidebooks. The reviews on tripadvisor were so great that I was getting a little worried that my expectations would be too high. I was relieved when we arrived to find a nice little hotel on top of a hill overlooking the lake and the volcano. Kelly met us at the van with a smile and showed us to our room. I'm happy with our room, on the end of a strip of 4 or 5 other rooms. He gave us a little tour of the grounds, the building with our room, the next building with the kitchen with dining room table and TV room, and then another building with couches, a few other rooms, the back patio with pool and fire place. He explained that every night, the chef cooks a different themed meal and everyone can come and help cook and learn the recipes. Its such a smart idea. Tonight is Morroccan food and tomorrow night is sushi so we will definately stay at least 2 nights. Maybe we will stay for falafel the next night.
There is a nice little hike that we took after lunch that goes through some secondary rainforest. I'm not sure yet what exactly that means but it was very lush and thick.
There is a howler monkey hanging out in a tree next to one of the buildings and we can here a group of howlers on the next hill. Its very peaceful here, just chirping birds, howler monkeys and the rumbling of the volcano.
Hopefully the other people staying here are cool and friendly. I can tell that the main evening activity here is to hang out and wait for the clouds to come off of the volcano to catch glimpses of the lava and that will be a lot more fun with good company.

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