Around late September I headed to La Fortuna, about a 4 hour bus ride from San Jose. You can easily get a ticket at the San Carlos Bus Terminal, it’ll probably cost you around $5-8.
I was lucky to grab a seat at the back of the bus, and especially lucky to be seated near this man…
I ended up staying at Arenal Hostel Resort (http://www.arenalhostelresort.com/) in the middle of the main strip NOT to be confused with the amazing Arenal Backpackers Resort which I stayed at later in the year. You’re greeted by the host Jessi, an older bald gringo who’s been sippin’ on the Pura Vida juice for awhile. The place has a bar/kitchen, although there were renovations going on at the time so it wasn’t in tip top shape. There is a pool, but it’s very small. Good for sticking your legs in or a quick dip.
The First night there, I decided to grab some dinner by myself (which is a little uncomfortable especially when you don’t have a cell phone to default to). September is considered low season so things are kind of dead. Lava Lounge seemed like the more popular joint, so I ate there and befriended the people next to me at the bar who all work at a rafting/adventure tour company. They invited me to a local karoake bar, so I hopped in one of their cars and off we went. Again, it was low season and it was practically empty. We have some beers and things get a little weird. All I wanted to do was leave at that point, but I had no idea where I was really and no clue how to get home. Shortly after, we left and I got home safe and sound. I pretty much relied on them for a ride home, not knowing who these people were or where the night would end #stupidgirl. The spontaneous yes man attitude doesn’t always work out in your favor, oh well! Can’t win ’em all.
When I get back to my hostel I can NOT figure out how to get in through the gate. I wasn’t given a key or anything so I assumed I was locked out. The center of the hostel is all outdoors, it’s where the entrance and bar/pool are (like the photo to the left). I wasn’t about to sleep on the street or park so I decide I’m going to climb the gate. After I make it to the other side I just cackled at the whole situation. In the morning I found out that nobody has a key to the gate, because there is a security guard on duty after 10 pm that lets you in … he must have been napping because I was hooting and hollering and probably swearing a lot. Good times.
The next day I went ziplining!!! It was me, and a Texan couple who had just gotten married and were on their honeymoon. There were 12 lines in total. I will never understand why people are afraid of ziplining. You are so harnessed in that it was difficult to feel afraid. I loved it, would do it again for sure. In total it was about $40, probably would be cheaper if you book it yourself and not through the hostel.
The one thing I really liked about Arenal Hostel Resort is that they have a free activity every day. That night it was a trip to the natural hot springs. You can pay a lot of money and head to Tabacon or Baldi Springs, or you can just do what the locals do. A bunch of us load up into the van, and get dropped off in the middle of nowhere. The driver just points to the trees and takes off, giving us no instruction. Luckily someone had a flashlight. We could hear the water so we knew we were close, but it was so dark you could barely see anything. We head down a path and see that there is what I assume was a tour group in the springs. They had two huge overhead lights and were drinking. Seriously so lucky they were there or we would have been in pitch black. We hang our stuff on whatever branches we can find and head in. It’s kind of layered and there are streams that bring you into the pools, so you just kind of sit and slide down into it. The water is soooo warm which was nice except for my glasses constantly fogging up. Some people we were with had a waterproof camera, but again I did not friend them on fb or ask for contact info. No pics, just memories 🙂
Hung out that night on the hostel patio overlooking the main road, just drinking and chilling with the others in my room. Turns out one of the Canadians is Portuguese….. and her family is also from Madeira Island …and our dads are about the same age and were both in the army in Africa. So I’ve concluded we must somehow be distant cousins, as I’ve come to realize pretty much everyone from that island is my relative. Gotta follow up with my mom on that one. Small world, hey?!
Friday morning started off with a guided hike through the jungle. We even passed through some areas where Jurassic Park was filmed. After that we met up with the other hostel folks at the river/water hole/whatever you call it. The hike banged up my thigh a bit. So basically, I’m a badass now.
Fortunately my tarzan swing was not filmed, as it ended in a belly flop – but this dude nailed it :
As you can see, it’s quite the view. We tried swimming to the waterfall but the current was too strong, so instead I just took a pic with it.
If you walk a little further down, there is a more calm area where you can actually swim. While we were there we met these 2 dudes who later ended up staying in my hostel in San Jose (you tend to run into to people multiple times throughout your trip).
We decided to be adventurous and walk back to the hostel. The roads were mostly gravel. and one of the people I was with had some knee issues. About 15 minutes later we were throwing up the thumbs trying to hitch a ride. This lovely tico and his pick up truck brought us back to town.
Back on a 4 hour bus ride to el capital, and my Fortuna adventure had come to an end.