Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Day 3: Goodbye Arenal, Hello Tenorio

We started the day by driving to Volcan Arenal National Park. We made a pit stop here to hear about the history of Arenal. La Fortuna, the town we have been staying in, got its name during one of the recent volcanic eruptions. La Fortuna means “The Fortunate.” Since all the ash and lava erupted on the opposite side of Arenal, La Fortuna was spared.

This picture commemorates one of the most memorable events of the trip so far. As we drove into the park, we encountered this branch blocking the road. Luke, Ethan, and our guide Johnny jumped out of the van to move it. However, none of them saw the hornet’s nest (white bunch on the tree). Ethan accidently stuck his knee into the nest, and immediately realized his mistake. From inside the van, all we heard was yelling and the three of them running and flailing their arms. Ryan, Bert, Kassie, and I quickly understood what was happening and had to close all the windows of the van. We finished just in time, as several hornets were trying to fly into the van. Everyone was okay and only Ethan suffered minor injuries (about 10 stings).

We hiked for about 30 minutes to reach the newest lava field. This lava field was formed during the 1992 eruption and it took 7-9 years for the lava to cool into this dark rock. The view was absolutely spectacular and we all enjoyed sitting at the base of the volcano and admiring its beauty and size. This was the first time since arriving that the entire volcano was clear of cloud cover. It was an absolutely beautiful sight.

Fun picture in front of Volcan Arenal, except a few of us missed the memo. Really enjoyed the view and hanging out with this group.

Red Towel at the base of the Volcan Arenal.

After hiking back to the vans, all of us signed a red towel to give to Johnny as a sign of our gratitude. He volunteered his time to lead us on our hike and to tell us of the history of this volcano. Johnny did so without expecting anything in return. The Ticos (name for Costa Ricans) truly are a loving and welcoming group.

After finishing our hike, we returned to La Fortuna for the last time. This picture is one of my favorites. I will never forget how Arenal dominates the city of La Fortuna. It truly put the power of nature into perspective. This was the first day clear enough to see Volcan Arenal from La Fortuna.

After leaving La Fortuna, we headed towards the city of Upala. Along the way, we found a fresh pineapple stand, and Luke hopped out to buy some for us for the next few days at Tenorio. Luke bartered his way to a great deal, and we pulled away with 5 pineapples and 3 papayas.

We arrived in Upala and had about an hour to explore the city. This city is way different than La Fortuna, as tourism has no influence here. The people spoke exclusively Spanish, which made for a fun challenge when ordering smoothies. Although, many of us felt uncomfortable at the time due to being minorities and meeting a few interesting characters, Upala really opened our eyes to what a typical Costa Rican city is like.

This was the drive up to Tenorio National Park. This rocky, bumpy, and narrow road created a very entertaining ride up to the park. Believe it or not, this road is actually an upgrade compared to what Ron and Luke have driven in years past.

We arrived at Tenorio National Park and settled into our new home. This large classroom with 13 mattresses on the floor is what we will call home. This picture also shows another important aspect of our trip. Each of us had to give a “brief”, or presentation, on an important aspect of Costa Rica. Here, Ethan educates us on Costa Rican National Parks, like Tenorio National Park, and what we can expect to see over the next few days.

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