Week 60 – Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

Happy Independence Day all! We’re spending the day in a different country, where they don’t serve us hot dogs and put on an impressive fireworks display. It’s quite the contrast to last year’s July 4th when we were in Montana, cruising in the RV blasting some Bruce Springsteen.

But we certainly can’t complain about this year’s location and the incredible day we’ve had today…but we’ll get there.

IMG_20170703_173219_649As planned, this week was mostly pretty low key, which was much needed coming off a crazy week or two with the race and then the impromptu trip to Guatemala. We spent most of the week relaxing in the AirBnb, getting some work done, running and biking and yoga’ing when possible, and trying to soak up the last of the time we have in this beautiful place. Not to understate how great our training was this week, it was a cooler week (by the standards of the recently extreme hot and humid days since we’ve been here), so we were able to get out for some pretty nice, long training days.

20170630_143707On Friday, Jim headed out for a solo 30 mile bike ride that took him out to a new beach. On the way out there, a few ATV’ers had pulled over to take photos of a large group of monkeys playing in a tree nearby. He, of course, pulled over and follow suit, getting some pretty great shots and videos of the cute little guys!

The following day, we set out for a 10 mile joint run through the jungles. We started out down a dirt road until we realized that road was leading us straight up hill, making it very difficult to maintain a solid heart rate and not overheat. We turned around and meandered through some towns that appeared much more “local” than the heavily touristed area where we’re staying. We 20170701_122813eventually made it down to the beach and back toward our place, completely drenched in sweat, only to discover that our power was out. So no fans, no AC and nothing cold to drink (MOST of Central America lost power so there weren’t even stores open to buy something cold!) made for a really tough time trying to cool ourselves down post run!

That evening, we set out to inquire about rental car rates for another upcoming trip and to grab a few things from the grocery store. As we were heading back, we decided we should stop and try the IPA from the local brewery that we hadn’t yet visited. This IMG_20170702_100015_523brewery (named The Angry Goat) is run by a guy from Wisconsin who brews all the beers right on site, and the IPA didn’t disappoint. We sat out on the swings at the bar that overlook the street and the large tree in front of us, and as we looked up, we saw baby monkeys playing overhead. We got to chatting with the people next to us and watching the monkeys, and before we knew it the sun had set and we’d each had a couple of beers. So we decided, why not make a night of it?? We (wisely) grabbed some dinner from the Canadian-owned Mediterranean place before heading to Zi Bar, a place with a dj and a decent mix of 20170628_180245-EFFECTSlocals and tourists. We enjoyed a couple of drinks there before we decided to start the dance party. No one was on the dance floor so we took the initiative, dancing in our semi-awkward fashion the the reggaeton music fusion they had going on (yes, we requested Despacito, and yes, the dj was annoyed). All in all, it was a really fun night, but we didn’t make it that late, leaving the bar around 11pm. Maybe it was the early start to the night, or the 10 mile run earlier in the day, or we’re just getting old.

Sunday was spent largely relaxing (i.e. nursing mild hangovers) and getting things packed up. On Monday, we picked up our rental car, after some trouble in doing so. We’ve learned that the rental car agencies down here often scam tourists on the “required” insurance, telling us that we need more than we really do, and then pocketing the commission for the upsell. So after a bad experience at the local Budget, we got a car from Alamo, loaded up, and started the drive. We’ve mentioned before that we’ve met some pretty awesome people via social media, namely Instagram. Well one couple that we follow, but have never met face to face, have a few properties they own down here, and are RV’ers during the time they aren’t down in Costa Rica themselves. Anyway, they 20170703_125207(0)had offered for us to come use their place for a few nights (it’s the off season down here so it wasn’t booked anyway), and we took them up on it. It’s about a 60 mile drive to their place from Playas del Coco, and it takes about an hour and a half to traverse the winding roads to get here. We did make one stop in a random town to grab some pizza, and we fell in love with that place. It was a quaint town with a park in the center and a bunch of families 20170703_161308out enjoying their lunch together. After lunch, we made the drive the rest of the way and were immediately blown away at how nice this place is! The housekeeper greeted us and let us in, the first thing we noticed was the view! The place has these gorgeous panoramic windows that look out onto Lake Arenal, and technically, the famous Arenal Volcano as well, but the rain clouds were blocking that view. The next thing we noticed was the sweet jacuzzi tub! As 20170703_163854people who regularly take 3 minute showers and spend our lives conserving water, having the chance to take a luxurious bath it just a dream! We can’t believe how nice these people are to share this place with us for a few nights! The remainder of the afternoon was spent writing training plans and just taking in that view as much as possible – including watching a storm roll in and a rainbow form!

20170703_183705That evening, we went to the microbrewery up the street that the people had recommended to us. It was a great place and we ended up staying there for a few hours drinking beers and playing chess. Costa Rica in general has made a lot of moves toward sustainability and this brewery makes all of their beer using solar energy; they’re also educating people on how to build sustainable homes. The waitresses were really nice, one of them taking us downstairs to show us where they brew and educate people, as well as taking us outside to show us the red-eyed frog. She caught one and let us hold it, he was awesome!

20170704_095213That brings us to today, probably the best day of the week and maybe even of the trip! That same waitress from the prior evening is a local and we asked her for some suggestions on things to do in the area. We had planned to go to Arenal Volcano National Park, but she said that there isn’t too much to see there, especially during the rainy season when the volcano is hard to see. She suggested we go to Tenorio Volcano instead, which we were a little uncertain about because we couldn’t see a route on the map to get there. But we committed to the plan! We started the day with a lovely breakfast near our place – we sat outside overlooking the mountains and the lake while they served us iced coffee, incredible scrambled eggs, and delicious cinnamon rolls and banana macadamia nut muffins. It was blissful. After breakfast, we started the drive north toward the volcano. 20170704_110712The drive started easy enough on narrow, paved, winding roads before turning into a bumpy, narrow dirt road. During that slow 10 mile stretch we encountered a questionable bridge that was being repaired, a herd of cattle being guided by a real cowboy, and countless dogs and chickens in the road. It was also the most stunning scenery in all directions and we couldn’t help but feel like we were in Jurassic Park. We were a little uncertain of our route but as we started seeing signs for our destination, we made it there with no issues. 20170704_173954It was a $12 admission fee to get in so we paid, and started down the rainforest trail. It was breathtaking. The lush greenery all around, the sounds of the jungle, the moist warm air…it was all so magical. At less than a mile in, we followed signs toward the waterfall and were greeted by a waterfall with the bluest water we’ve ever seen. It looked like it could have been photoshopped, it’s rare to see water that color in nature. We got lucky and had the place to ourselves to take a few photos, before a large group of people came in and crowded us out.

We continued down the trail, striking up conversation with some fellow travelers from the US and France. Some were there for photography tours, others to volunteer, and still others to couch surf, hitchhike, and explore freely. At 2 miles in we made it to the end of the trail where two rivers meet, combining the ph to higher than normal levels from the volcanic activity. You can actually see where the normal river water turns into the bright blue that you see at the waterfall…one of the many wonders of nature!

As we turned around to start the journey back to the car, it starting POURING. Like not a little sprinkle you find in Seattle, but big, thick rain drops. And lots of them! It wasn’t long until every part of us was soaked through and the trail turned into a rushing river. 20170704_135839But you know, sometimes you just have to dance in the rain. So we made the best of it, enjoying the fresh feeling of the rain on our skin and being thankful that it’s a tropical rain, so we didn’t get cold as we got drenched. Eventually we made it back, ducking into the backseat of the car to change into some drier clothes before climbing into the front. The two sisters we met on the hike from Kansas City were headed to a local pizzeria, so we 20170704_164015decided to join them. They’re the sweetest! We had a lovely lunch sitting outside, watching the rain and enjoying the cool air and warm pizza. They told us about their journey through Costa Rica so far and we agreed that someday we’d get to Kansas City so they can show us what a hidden gem it is there.

As much as we’ve been loving the beaches at Playas del Coco, we’re so thankful to have had this opportunity to get out and see more of the country. It’s just unbelievably gorgeous here and it’s definitely a place we can see returning to in the future.

Stay with us as we wrap up our final week in Costa Rica, before heading back to the States and to our next respective adventures.

Total RV Trip Miles: 17,502

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we turned around to start the journey back to the car, it starting POURING. Like not a little sprinkle you find in Seattle, but big, thick rain drops. And lots of them! It wasn’t long until every part of us was soaked through and the trail turned into a rushing river. But you know, sometimes you just have to dance in the rain. So we made the best of it, enjoying the fresh feeling of the rain on our skin and being thankful that it’s a tropical rain, so we didn’t get cold as we got drenched. Eventually we made it back, ducking into the backseat of the car to change into some drier clothes before climbing into the front. The two sisters we met on the hike from Kansas City were headed to a local pizzeria, so we decided to join them. They’re the sweetest. We had a lovely lunch sitting outside, watching the rain and enjoying the cool air and warm pizza. They told us about their journey through Costa Rica so far and we agreed that someday we’d get to Kansas City so they can show us what a hidden gem it is there.

 

As much as we’ve been loving the beaches at Playas del Coco, we’re so thankful to have had this opportunity to get out and see more of the country. It’s just unbelievably gorgeous here and it’s definitely a place we can see returning to in the future.

 

Stay with us as we wrap up our final week in Costa Rica, before heading back to the States and to our next respective adventures.

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One thought on “Week 60 – Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

Add yours

  1. Yoga’ing- that’s the verb I use, too 😉

    The DJ got annoyed with Despacito?? Forget him! I’ve never been prouder of you two 😉

    All of your pics are stunning, especially the waterfall and the two different colors of the water- amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

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