Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Honeymoon Recap Part 3-Arenal

As we left Santa Theresa, we were torn, we wanted to blow off our planned trek to the volcano to stay a few extra days, but most hotels in Costa Rica require a non-refundable deposit. In order to not lose our money we had to leave.
The drive to Arenal was much less eventful than our first drive. The only thing significant about the drive was the beautiful Costa Rican country side and the opportunity to stop and buy an aloe vera drink that I had become addicted to on the trip. These stupid things are delicious. If you buy the aloe light you can enjoy it for only 30 calories. If you buy a cold one you can expect a deliciously refreshing taste of aloe, sugar and yummy squishy pulp in your mouth. But I digress.

I had read that Costa Rica had a lot of American ex Pats however, on the Nicoyan peninsula we had not met many Americans. As we skirted the outer edge of Lake Arenal we realized this must be where they all lived. There were tons of real estate for sale signs all in English, like you see in the states "Homes from the 200's,"  "Lake View condos," "Great community". The homes up there were significantly bigger than we had been seeing along the road with more American looking architecture.  While, I applaud them for defecting to such a lovely tropical country, I think I would choose something smaller and closer to the ocean. It is hard not to day dream about moving to your destination while on vacation. What a cool place to retire.

After around 5 hours of driving we pulled up to our hotel. The Lost Iguana is set in the rain forest just a stones throw from the Hanging Bridges. We checked in an were shown to our room. I am aware this is not actually a word; but it was GYNORMOUS. I was complete with a patio hot tub, huge en suite and amazing view of Arenal Volcano.
As we sat on the deck and marveled at the view it occurred to me that the outside sounds were almost deafening. The sounds of frogs, birds, bugs and whatever else was out there was absolutely spectacular. I had been to rain forests before but never one so dense or loud. I felt the vibrations of the forest actually slowing down my brain waves and turning me into a pile of awesome, mellow-mush.
view from our room

The next day, Rob made my dream come true with a couples massage in the most spectacular spa I had ever been to. Most spas try to emulate the feel of the rain forest by pumping in sounds, but here we were in the reality listening to the sounds of the rain forest. The building was a beautiful eastern temple built from dark rain forest wood. We relaxed in the sauna, drank mint tea and were shown to our open air massage room complete with a wood burning fireplace. It was amazing. I could go on about all the little things that made this experience awesome but I think you get the picture.

To cap of our relaxing day we visited the natural hot springs at Ecothermales. It was smaller and more private than the other more well known ones of Tabacon or Baldi but that is what we wanted. As we continued our relaxation nirvana in the hot springs, I noticed I had lost the key they gave us for our lockers. It was rubberbanded to my wrist then suddenly it wasn't. Since I knew there was not a chance in hell we would find it. This prompted a very embarrassing admission of guilt to the staff. It just so happened they could not find the duplicate so they had to bring in the handy man and grounds lady to break open my locker. I felt so bad, but Costa Rican's are so nice I could tell even through our language barrier that they were not holding it against me. How incredibly gracious of them! I was THAT girl. I deserved any wrath or annoyance I received. When we got home later that night I jumped in the shower to rinse off. As I let down my wet hair I realized I had wrapped the key into my bun. Now I was even more embarrassed because I had to go back and return it, admitting my complete absentmindedness. In typical Costa Rican style they acted grateful that I had brought it back.

Picture of me with the key bun...also in case you are wondering there was zero retouching done on my husbands abs/pecs

The next day we did the loop to the hanging bridges then drove into La Fortuna to visit the La Fortuna waterfall. The Hanging Bridges hike was super fun. The suspension bridges are an architectural marvel. They are suspended across several deep ravines. We saw katamundi, a few tropical birds and tarantula holes. Although, I was on the lookout to see a toucan. We had seen every animal I had wanted to see on this trip except that. To no avail. However, it was a beautiful walk through the woods. The entire trek I felt like I was in a high tech rain forest museum exhibit and they were pumping in the sounds on full blast.

The La fortuna waterfall was amazing as well. I am sure it is the biggest waterfall I had ever seen. You had to walk 554 steps to the bottom of the ravine to experience it fully. When we were down there it started to rain heavily and we got drenched. I felt like this was the true rain forest experience I had imagined. The advertising material had mentioned that this was the place if you wanted to see a toucan, but again I wasn't able to find one.

The food in the Arenal area was good. All the food in CR was great, but we found the food in Arenal to be a bit overpriced and not as fresh as in Santa Theresa. The last night we had a delicious steak dinner at Novillo steak house. Everywhere in Costa Rica is open air, as we were shown to our table it started to rain again. By the time we got our drinks it was a complete down pour. The water was rushing off the shingles and pelting the plants in their mini atrium. The ferns lining the edge of the restaurant were getting pounded, swinging back and forth from all the wind and rain hitting them. This continued our entire meal, I was glad I had brought a light sweater with me. Moreover, the heavy rain seemed to symbolize the end to our wondrous trip.  Ok, A little cheesy but when I reflect, that is how I feel!

The last morning we reluctantly packed up and headed to breakfast at the hotel restaurant. As we sat there we were discussing all our favorite parts of the trip. I lamented a little that I never got to see a toucan, although was very grateful for all the cool wildlife I did get to see. Just then I glanced over at the bird feeder and there sat, you guessed it, A TOUCAN! 

I guess this guy came there every morning around 7 am. He hung out for 3 glorious minutes as the staff tossed fruit at him. When he was full he abruptly turned around and soared from the feeder into the woods. Just then about 10 birds flew back to the feeder. Our waiter explained that the Toucan is a very mean bird, he will eat the babies of the Montezuma bird who is his cousin. He will attack any other bird if they get in the way of a his meal. He is the king of the birds in the rain forest. I had no idea he was such a jerk. He is a gorgeous bird, but what d-bag. 
This was an umimaginable way to call our honeymoon complete. We are definitely coming back to Costa Rica for a second maybe third honeymoon.


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