Costa Rica-Day Six-January 2021-River Cruise, Rain forest hike, Volcano and Hot Springs!

 Day Six Thursday

Streams of light zig-zag their way through the dense forest canopy. The lucky beams that make it to the forest floor reflect softly off of the small collections of water left from the earlier rain. There is no silence or absence of activity in the rain forest. It is alive with sound. The rush of forceful waters cascading down the side of a hill into the stream below. The sweet chatter of birds back and forth high overhead. The rustling of deep emerald green leaves along the path as a gentle breeze floats through. The squeal of a monkey as it flings itself from tree to tree taunting another in an effort to play. Then there are the sounds you can’t quite discern and can only imagine once your eyes lock on an image. The skittering of harry tarantula legs as they push their oversized body deeper into the fresh damp earth. The twitch and faint flutter of bat wings as they adjust themselves during their daytime slumber on the truck of a large moss-covered tree. The march of a thousand tiny ant feet as they systematically carry leaves so large that the leaves themselves appear to have legs to a final destination unseen. The twinkling of brightly colored butterfly wings catching the cascading light as they float by. The buzz of the wings of the sleek green hummingbird. The scrape of an iguana belly as it claws its way around an outstretched branch.

The roots that dangle from the sky overhead must make a steady stealth sound as they slowly seek the mineral-rich soil to begin new growth. The air-plants in the junctures of branches overhead slurp at the last droplets of water greedily. The smooth black roots from the walking palm groan and stretch. The forest floor pulses with life. No surface is free from sharing with moss, flowers, roots, plants, or vines. If one were to sit still long enough on the rain forest floor, the jungle would slowly and steadily claim you as its own.

I have never been in a rain forest. It was as I had imagined it and so much more. The life that finds a way despite all odds is inspiring. The odd shapes and textures lend themselves to a feeling of science fiction. I half expected to see prehistoric creatures around every corner which is fitting since Jurassic Park was filmed in this exact area of Costa Rica.

Our day didn’t begin in the rain forest but with a three-hour bus trip toward the central portion of Costa Rica. The roads were pretty smooth but they twisted and turned for miles and unfortunately, one of our group became very glad for the bathroom on the bus as he visited often and later just stayed near it as motion sickness wouldn’t lessen its iron grip of nausea. We stopped at a German bakery which is quite popular in Costa Rica. There were a small gift shop and a display case of the tastiest desserts including Black Forest Cake and Pineapple Upside-down Cake. On the outdoor patio. which overlooked a lake and rolling hills, it had the shells of macadamia nuts as its ground cover and delicate flowers hanging from their vines overhead. It was misting and we shivered when we exited the bus. I didn’t expect it to feel cold, but if I had brought a sweatshirt I would have put it on.

As it was, I wrapped myself and Ryan in a towel I had borrowed from the resort while we went on a boat trip toward the base of the volcano; Arenal. I sat on his lap and people oohed and awed until I told them he was using me to block the wind and I was using him for his warmth. We have a nice symbiotic relationship going on. The ride was smooth along the wild lush banks that were indiscernible due to all of the vegetation. It was almost as if the trees, plants, and vines grew directly out of the water and just entangled themselves together rolling up toward the sky. Birds were aplenty even in the misty rain. We viewed a monkey or two along the way high in the trees. Below us, the remnants of a village destroyed by a volcanic eruption were now covered by 100-200 feet of water due to the man-made dam locking the waters in place.

The clouds were thick and the volcano we had driven to see had again disappeared in the haze. Toward the end of our journey, the rain abated and the clouds parted over the volcano allowing us to take pictures and marvel at the sight. What perfect timing!

Back on the bus, we traveled to a beautiful hilltop overlooking the volcano. We watched dozens of hummingbirds skitter around in the foreground and monkeys playing in the trees with the volcano as a backdrop. Lunch was served in the restaurant next to our viewpoint and was just as delicious as every meal we have had here.

After lunch was when we headed on trails into the rainforest. The path was carefully curated with brick pavers and metal hanging bridges. The plants were so unique that it was like stepping onto a sci-fi movie set. We were greeted by a juvenile spider monkey swinging through the branches trying to get an older less enthusiastic howler monkey to play. It was a magical experience to be there with so much active life surrounding you. I was hoping to see a sloth and a toucan but we had to cut our trail walk shorter than what was planned due to time slipping away.

On our way down the mountains, we stopped at natural hot springs. How they captured the springs to put to use as hot tubs were very creative and very beautiful. native plants and flowers surrounded small pools built into the ground with a cement-like stone shaped with seats and cup holders. Hot water cascaded down the hill from one pool to the next so that the highest pool was the hottest and the lowest pool was the coolest. There was a room next to the pools with barstools and a bar. They also had lockers to store your things, towels, showers, and changing rooms. Everything was very clean!

Now that we were all relaxed from the hot waters it was back on the bus to dinner. We went to a lovely resort set on the side of a hill. It was surrounded by complete darkness by this time so although one side of the dining room was only windows we could not see the magnificent view. Again dinner was fabulous and way too much food but like always my plate was completely empty at the end. Must be the Dutch in me.

Three hours later and we were back at our resort. It was the latest Ry and I had been up the entire trip!


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