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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Muy bonita!

La Fortuna, Costa Rica:

After almost seven hours of flying and four hours of driving along narrow, winding mountain roads, we made it to Costa Rica and the hotel, which features stunning views of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal from our room's window.

Or... was supposed to feature those views. Too bad it's tail-end of the rainy season and a thick cloud cover completely obscured the top of the volcano during the day. At night, you wouldn't have known a volcano was even there -- the fog is thick and dark.

Hot springs -- doesn't it look like something out of Jurassic Park?!

To say Costa Rica is beautiful is to state the obvious. During the 3.5-hour drive from San Jose to La Fortuna (and our hotel at Arenal National Park), my head kept whipping back-and-forth, side-to-side, trying to take in as much of the view as possible. Everything is lush and green -- like a postcard for the most beautiful place on Earth.

We've spent most of the past two days hiking through the rainforest and my legs are definitely feeling it today! One of the trails traces the lava path from Arenal Volcano's 1968 explosion, when the presumed-dormant volcano (locals used to camp on the very top of the volcano, assuming it was safe as it had been for centuries) exploded, killing more than 70 people in the first three days.

The volcano has been continuously active since that point, although the last major eruption was in 2000. One guide said that activity is slowing down dramatically now, to the point where it will be considered dormant again in just a few years.

The amount of biodiversity here is incredible. There's of course an enormous range of plants -- more than 80% of plants found in the rainforest are medicinal, including natural insect repellent and mosquito bite reliever -- as well as mammals large and small, a huge number of birds and a plentiful supply of fish.

Yes, it wouldn't be a true Erin blog without a mention of the food -- yum yum yum! Tropical fruits and beans-and-rice and fresh veggies and plantains...! Not to mention the huge quantities of delicious fish -- tilapia and sea bass and tuna, oh my!

Today we arrived at somewhat-sleepy Quepos, on the Pacific Coast, for a few days of fun in the sun -- more on that tomorrow. Internet access is sporadic but my posting schedule should go back to normal soon.

Hasta luego!