La Fortuna, Arenal, and back to San Jose

We decided to take the adventurous-sounding jeep-boat-jeep transfer to La Fortuna, our next destination, combining a trip through the mountains with a boat journey.  In actuality, it was way less rugged than it sounded: microbus-boat-microbus, in fact, as it’s very popular these days.  The mountain landscape is wonderful, though, resembling Switzerland, and even more so when we get to Lago Arenal, under the volcano.  We were unable to take pictures as the road is a bit sketchy, so here’s another annoying two-head shot on the boat section.  Pura Vida !
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The microbus drops us at the Hotel Dorothy, near the La Fortuna bullring.  Doesn’t look much, but it’s cheap and has a communal kitchen.  It’s sign also advertises Hot Water, which is a rarity in this price bracket.  This usually doesn’t matter, because we’re in the tropics and it’s ridiculously hot most of the time, and so a cold water shower is quite refreshing.  They also have ants, but that isn’t on the sign.
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Dorothy is also close to the local supermarket, where we are able to buy bread and, glory be, cheese !  This enables the construction of a cheese sandwich for lunch, and we’re happy bunnies.  Later, we wander round town, which is as touristy as Blackpool, though without the tower.  It’s full of high-class restaurants with menus priced in dollars, zip-line and white-water rafting places, and coffee shops.  It’s pricey, too, but that’s true of Costa Rica generally, which is quite comparable with the UK for food, beer and the like.
A big local attraction which you can see without being a) on a horse, b) in a raft, c) on a zip-line or d) bankrupt,  is La Catarata de Fortuna, a waterfall which runs near the volcano.  As we have had little exercise for some while, we decide to walk there, to mild consternation from the hotel staff.  It’s about five kilometers, uphill, in the sun, so it isn’t a walk in the park, but we make it, stopping only for a massive smoothie at a newly-opened restaurant and dog-rescue place.  There aren’t many people walking, that’s for sure.
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It’s nice when we get there, but the round trip takes us about four hours, broken only by cheese sandwiches by the falls.
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Later that evening we get a take-away pizza, and are eating it at Dorothy when we get to chatting with our neighbour, from Austria.  After the usual “where have you been, where are you going” chat, she opens the batting on a game of  ”well, of course, it’s not safe there”.  This involves telling the other party about some place they’re in or will be going to which isn’t safe, either because they’ve been robbed there or they’ve heard of someone being robbed there, and advising them on security measures to take.  I usually try not to engage too much because I don’t want to admit to carrying some money in my shoe in case I’m robbed.  Anyway, here’s a picture of the main square and the volcano, looking nice and peaceful and safe.  The volcano used to be active, but it’s been quiet for a year or so, which has put a crimp in their volcano trips.
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The following morning we left on the public bus for San Jose, changing in Ciudad Quesada, and arriving about five hours later.  We try to get a taxi from the bus station to our hotel, but the teachers are marching through town and the taxis can’t get there.  So we walk, which is warm indeed.  We’re staying at the Hotel Ritzli, a Swiss-run establishment, as it is my birthday today.  It’s near a church called La Merced, and this statue.
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We’re off to Panama City tomorrow, though not until 11pm, on the overnight bus.  The trip is a wopping 17 hours, with a border crossing at about 6am.  Oh joy.  By the way, Panama City, it’s not safe there, apparently.

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