Welcome to the jungle....

I'll let you finish the amazing musical reference that the title implies! I know that I owe y'all another post or two on the Germany experience, but since I am currently sitting at the base of a volcano surrounded by tropical flowers, I think I'm going to put that on hold and tell you about Costa Rica
instead! Flew into San José on Monday, picked up a hearty SUV and drove on really twisty, turny, bumpy, crazy roads for a couple hours to Arenal Volcano. I jinxed myself by proclaiming that I've never really had motion sickness and, of course, karma had her way with me...I spent a solid handful of hours praying for the drive to be over and focusing on not losing my tuna sandwich.

We made it to La Fortuna in one piece, sampled some local Costa Rican cuisine and went for a swim to rinse off the inevitable travel grunge. A surprise downpour caught us in the pool and gave us our first taste of Costa Rica in the "Green Season," aka the rainy season. So far, the sudden bursts of intense rain haven't affected our adventures too much, managing to always occur when we're already indoors or near a convenient grocery store or church where we can take cover!

Unfortunately, the flaming top of Arenal has remained shrouded in an intense cloud cover, but supposedly the light show of flowing lava is quite cool to see at night. Often, it's almost impossible to even tell there's a large land mass there to begin with...the clouds disguise it's massive bulk on a fairly regular basis. We did hike around the base and saw some old lava flows from the last major eruption in the mid-nineties. It was actually a little hard to imagine that the black, porous rocks had ever been molten and flowing like mud down the side of the mountain.

We continued our hike down to the base of Fortuna Waterfall, where we were able to take a (very!) refreshing dip in the pool at the base. The pounding water battered us around a bit against the rocks and some brave souls were proving their recklessness by jumping off a large log sticking out over the pool. I really wanted to jump myself, but found myself too self-conscious to clamber out on a slippery log in my bathing suit...too many opportunities for wardrobe malfunctions!!

Adrenaline junkies have plenty of options in La Fortuna, with ziplining, waterfall rappelling and whitewater rafting to choose from...not quite what I was in the mood for on this relaxation vacation. So, instead of zipping through the rainforest canopy attached to a cable, we hiked a really cool trail that brought us up to treetop level via a system of hanging bridges and
occasionally steep, winding paths. The bridges hopped and swayed underfoot and looking down, you could see the amazing diversity of the rainforest foliage from a bird's perspective. Pretty awesome!
We then did a bit of a wildlife safari at an eco-reserve and managed to spot a colorful frog or two, two sloths (that were so high up in the trees that they really just looked like really furry, massive coconuts), a couple caimans, tons of butterflies, a lizard that can run across water on its hind legs, and a primate hand (or foot) that he kept dangling in our view while he lounged, just out of sight, in the crook of a tree. 

Finally, we capped off our Arenal experience with a relaxing few hours in volcano-heated hot springs! Nothing like relaxing with an icy daquiri while your muscles turn to mush in a bubbling volcanic pool to really feel grateful to be here! La Pura Vida indeed!

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