Next we decided to go further north to La Fortuna, a small town at the base of volcan Arenal. We tried our luck with Couch Surfers and were fortunate to find Ivan, a gentle and spiritual thirty-two year old man originally from Mexico. He was gracious enough to open up his one bedroom cabina to four girls, three Americans and one German.
Not surprisingly, we woke up the next morning to rain. Despite packing our rain gear, we remained optimistic that the day would hold out for us. As we started our hike up Serro Chato the surroundings were lush and green and the pathways and steps were created by the tree root systems. Not long after we started our hike, the rain began and from here did not stop for the entire day! We made it to the top of the volcan successfully and then descended down to the lagoon. The lagoon was beautiful and exotic but by this time not even my socks were dry and I couldn't imagine taking all my wet clothes to go swimming only the put my wet clothes back on. Katie and a few others on the tour were brave souls and dived in. They said the water felt great but after getting out it was a different story. At this point to stay warm we had to keep moving.
We made the trek back up to the top which was now like rock climbing up a mud slide. This part was really fun and the whole situation had become quite comical. We had fully accepted the rain and our adventure for the day had shifted from observing the nature of volcan Arenal to simply making it back down in one piece...and this was all before lunch. As we continued our descent down, the rain had escalated to a full torrential down pour, with water as high as our thighs. We were like kids playing in the biggest slip and slide of our lives. After another hour of waking downwards we finally made it to our stopping point for lunch. Never in my life have I been so drenched for so long and I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be dry again.
After lunch, the rain did not cease but we made it to the observatory to dry off and warm up with some hot coffee. Although we didn't get to see any Tucans, the area was full of brightly colored birds and beautiful tropical rain forest. We were amused for a while with a small raccoon/anteater looking mammal, which despite being a wild animal felt like our pet for thirty minutes. My favorite nature find so far would probably be the Rainbow Eucalyptus which has no bark and sheds layers to reveal varying colors beneath each layer.
The next day we woke up to sun and the volcan was fully visible. We joked that today would have been the perfect day for a ten hour trek. But our plans were to head north to Nicaragua since we were so close and had been recently advised by other travelers that it was well worth it. We imagined it would be four hours by bus, then over to boarder to catch a ferry to the island, Ometepe.
Our day went as followed: a very rocky six hour bus ride, two hours at the boarder, a cab ride to an hour long ferry ride, another hour long bus ride to finally arrive (in the rain) at our hostel. But sometimes the things you struggle to get to are the best in the end. We were able to catch the sunset on the ferry, and because of the recent rain, it was one of the few sunsets that we have successfully seen since traveling. It was mesmerizing and gave us time to relax and slow down after such a stressful day. We also met some locals who ended up being very beneficial in educating us about the island. Ompetepe is surrounded by the Lago de Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America. On the island are two volcans, Conception (which has erupted eight times) and Maderas (which has erupted once). The island has it own native people who came down from Mexico but existed during the same time as the Incas and Mayans.
When we arrived at our hostel, Little Morgan's, we were relieved to discover they served food and sold bottles of wine. We quickly had the pleasure of meeting the owner Morgan, a foul mouthed Irish guy who speaks good Spanish and loves American football. He showed us up to his work in progress, a three story "tree" house made completely of natural local wood. The first level was like a dorm room and could sleep around five, the second level has four hammocks and the highest level is a circle of built in chairs overlooking volcan Conception on the left and lago de Nicaragau and rain forest on the right. The hostel setting is beautiful and the vibe of the island is good. There is an undeniable presence of peace and friendliness here....we may be stay here longer than expected. There are ten times more pajaros (birds) and mariposas (butterflies) then there are humans and at night the luziernagas (lightning bugs) light up the dark paths as if offering guidance to us newbies on the island. We've found our own Avatar or Ferngully. Through the suggestions of other travelers and locals, our path has led us to Bone Fide. The finca (farm), has been running for eight years and is fully self-sustaining and organic, nestled below volcan Maderas over 25 acres. We fell in love with volunteering here the second we checked it out...more removed from civilization y mas profundo en naturleza.
More to come.... :)
Paz y abrazos,