WARNING: Reflections From the Past in This Mirror May Be Distorted!

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Its all about perspective….. + 7 years.

The two biggest anticipated stops of our ‘Jaco-Hiatus’ were just ahead of us…..  Arenal Volcano and Monteverde Cloud Forest, & I couldn’t have been more BESIDE myself with excitement to share with Ray a few of the places that I ‘seem’ to have remembered meant the most to me when I had visited Costa Rica in 2009.

If only my memory served me correctly.   What a difference a day can make…… or several years, for that matter.

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Stunning Lake Arenal

Tuesday, February 23rd:  

Ahhh….. the smell of – LAKE.   You can take the girl out of Minnesota folks, but you can’t take the Minnesota out of the girl.   It will always and forever be for me fresh water over the ocean.  Driving up that day towards Laguna de Arenal I couldn’t help but be slightly taken aback by the first site of that 88-sq-km lake.   It was absolutely incredible how that view hit you in your front view window like a bug that decided his mission was make it a direct hit into your line of site and BHAM….. teal clear blue water as far as you could see.  It is amazing that not only is this the largest lake in the country, but it’s also mostly man made as it tripled in size back in 79′ to build hydroelectricity for the region.  (Lost a few towns in that man-making path too….

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Wings at EQUUS Barbeque– BEST EVER on Lake Arenal

but not too worry, many ended up getting some pretty epic premium lake shore property out of the deal!)  And wouldn’t you know it, it also is home to some world class wind bringing with it also world class kite boarders and windsurfers.  You can imagine Ray CHOMPING at the bit to get out there!

……So instead, I took pity on Ray’s piercing ‘I WANNA KITE SURF EYES’ & turned into a little barbeque shack along the road and ‘chomped’ on some of the most incredible chicken wings I believe I have ever eaten in my life.  Perhaps it was the view, or that they were wood fired right in front of us by an 88 year old Tico man, and run by the same family for more then a quarter century- but I joke that we are going back to Laguna Arenal JUST for these wings.  Forget the Volcano, the WINGS are the winner to this destination so far!

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COSTA RICA CRUISIN’!

SIDENOTE:  In fact, we will be headed back for these wings this Easter weekend. before we depart Costa Rica. Don’t judge.

With food in our bellies and the lake on our right the sun up above and the volcano slowly coming into focus ahead we followed the road as it weaved in and out …. incredibly Maui-esque and so hypnotizing.  I can honestly say it is some of the most striking ‘Costa Rica Cruisin’ we have witnessed.    Our first look at the ARENAL VOLCANO! Click here!

Then it occurred to me. I don’t remember it being so incredibly AWE struck at this scenery in Arenal and most definitely the town of La Fortuna.  In fact, the last time I was here for a past job I was luxuriously escorted through a few $250.00+ nt property inspections, privileged to stay the night at one of them and onward the next day to plummet towards more property inspections and tours.   This time, we were rockin’ up to our $25.00 AirBnB and felt like we had already DEVOURED the place.  (well, at least a few chickens already  at least)

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My kind of HIKING….. 485 steps DOWN to your destination. But then what goes down, must come up?? ;)

But already I felt that I had seen a different side to Arenal and La Fortuna, and I was ALL IN.  The AirBnB we had chosen was perfect and even had a view OF the Volcano from our front door (yes, swanky hotels make you pay big buckaroo’s for that one!) and was right in the charming and ‘perfect for the Wyatt town’ of La Fortuna.  I say this because it was just big enough to keep us busy, lots of restaurants (cheap sodas) but just manageable enough to be able to get around and get stuck in.  We could cross hiking off the list of things to do for the next couple of days….. (still a bit ‘hiked out’ from Rincon de la Vieja bamboozle)……

“But what’s that you say?  There’s a waterfall just down the road with a 20 minute hike you say, with STEPS??  SOLD!”   

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How can you top a picnic set up like this??

So off we went to the waterfall called La Catarata de la Fortuna which is $12 (although not quite as untouched and raw & FREE as in Rincon) but was still equally as magnificent and a tad bit BIGGER and we were so ecstatic to be able to take part in its beauty.   Click here for video of the waterfall!!    We went later in the day which we felt helped significantly with the crowds, but still managed to find a spot tucked away after we swam beneath the falls to have one of our favorite ‘Grams and Gramp’s’ style picnics.

Which led me to think, if my perception of Arenal had changed so much….. had I ‘talked’ Monteverde up too much?  This was to be the grand finale & I was talking it up with 4th of July Fire works.

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Ray, says ‘ He tasted…. but was not wasted!’

Thursday, February 25th:

We had a 3 hour drive from La Fortuna to Monteverde Cloud Forest and although unfortunately the barbeque place with the smoke pit chicken was closed (still too early), fortunately for us– the Mircobrewery WAS OPEN!  (never too early.)  It was Lake Arenal Brewery at Microcerveceria Hotel.  They gave you a taster of EVERYTHING including even their chili and pineapple brew, and we were loving it…… Great pit stop and incredible view.

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Wait, are we on a boat??

Not but 30 minutes later were we up and onwards towards  ‘the bumpy bumpy’ 24km steep climb dirt road up to Monteverde when it all started coming back to me…..  Excitement kicked in, anticipation as THIS WAS THE CLOUD FOREST PEOPLE.    I remember the magic, the mountain & the sensation as though you were on top of the world and the …………. BUNKBEDS?

Oh.  Dear me.  Well, at least its charming…. and the sun it out!  However as we walked out to explore the ‘ah hem’ town of Santa Elena no more did we step into it then we realized we

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It was pretty…. PRETTY COLD. This poor man to the right of Ray could’t even look up he was frozen solid.

had already ‘seen’ it.  Ok….. well thats done- and CHECK.   Ok….. so I was pulling at strings here, Ray was getting antsy and I was not going to give up on the Cloud Forest Finale just yet.  ….. Um, lets see…. the SUNSET!   That magnificent ball of fire I remember seeing set that horizon a light the last time I was here……   So we grabbed a bottle of wine, went to the top of the world (passed the luxurious hotel I stayed at LAST TIME sans bunk beds) and almost got blown off of this cliff but Ray humored me as we stayed as long as possible as we weathered out the chill in the air (to us, its been along time since it had dropped past 60!) …. and watched it dip into the sky and the huddled in our bunk bed to keep warm wondering what on earth people saw on Monteverde??

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Zip lining through the clouds….. ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!

No matter what happened, we were potentially ALL THE WAY UP here in these dang’ clouds for one thing.  The next morning waking up – even regardless of the wind and rain I had my ‘sure thing’ in the bag….. Selvatura Park.  Even after all these years it couldn’t and WOULDN’T let me down. This is where zip-lining began, and this is what I wanted to so share with Ray.  With 13 separate ziplines, and one being over 1km long + a Tarzan swing?  I know by now that Adrenaline Rush = Ray’s Happiness

And I was right.  It was an incredible day…. even the frozen of a tundra town couldn’t get us down that evening.  We were on a high.  That park still is absolutely insane…. even after all these years.   I was just a whole lot more scared this time around…..

Which makes me realize, don’t ever expect to go back to your past adventures and think you’re going to have the same experience.

BUT you may just the same poses…….

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2009 @ Selvatura Park

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TODAY @ Selvatura Park…. what are the chances?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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