Imagine that you had spent months planning a trip to Mount Rushmore and after driving several hours you arrived to find it hidden by clouds for the entire time you were there. You might understand our feelings during our trip to Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna, Costa Rica then! Over the week that we spent in the Limón Province of Costa Rica visiting our teacher friends Ashanti, Miguel, and Yerlin, we made arrangements for a mini-trip to see the volcano.
We made our way to La Fortuna, passing through grazing land with my favorite “field friends”, Costa Rican cattle and their ever-present BFFs, cattle egrets. From the lowlands of Limón, we curved through mountain roads hitting some construction along the way and also much needed roadside snack stands before eventually pulling into town three hours after leaving Guácimo. All of the research I had done on the area showcased over and over the magnificent views of the volcano from every area. Our plan was to do some hiking around the base of Arenal over the lava fields of previous eruptions. So many internet photos showed not only the volcano smoking, but also visible lava flowing. I was so excited that our hotel, the Volcano Lodge http://www.volcanolodge.com/en had perfect volcano views and I was picturing myself in the pool with a nice drink watching the action, resting after my mountain hike.
But alas, fantasy did not touch reality on this excursion. As we pulled into the town of La Fortuna, our friend Miguel shook his head. Where I only saw a sky full of fog, he told me the great volcano usually towered over the city.
Ever the optimist in cases of inclement weather, I thought it might burn off so we ventured on toward the volcano. As we approached the entrance to the hiking trails in the park, our bad luck continued. It began to rain. Hard. As we pulled over and took in the rain forest shower, the fog began to envelop us as well. As I sat disgruntled in the car thinking about no volcano views and no hiking, I started munching on some chips and was joined by feathered friends who would have loved to have taken refuge from the rain in our car and share my snack. I didn’t realize that would end up being our only nature encounter of the day. So sad.
As we drove around the base of Arenal, waiting for meteorological change, we came to terms with the fact that there would be no hiking in the rain so we returned to the hotel. The grounds of Volcano Lodge were gorgeous and would have been so amazing to stroll around if it were dry out. The massive wall of fog reminded us constantly that it was just not our day. After playing cards on the patio of our room for awhile we ventured over to the restaurant and bar. It looked like our luck was about to change. Not only were there some very interesting drink specials going on, but on the TV of the bar, the Green Bay Packer/Minnesota Viking game was on! We had certainly never expected this as American football games on TVs outside the US are not exactly common. As so we spent the next three hours cheering on the Pack and sipping rum concoctions. But as I said earlier, it was not our day, and we ended up watching our Packers fall to a terrible Viking team. Talk about adding insult to injury! The only thing that helped make it better was the terrific meal at the hotel restaurant that night of seafood fettuccine and filet mignon with an espresso sauce. Not exactly the rice and beans we associate with Costa Rica!
The next morning as we prepared to head to San José and then back to the US, the sun shone brightly and we thought for sure the fog would lift as a beautiful goodbye to us. No such luck. The best view we got was still about a third hidden from view. It did make for a great morning though for strolling the grounds, using the pool, and lounging under the world’s largest fern.
It was disappointing that our whole trip’s purpose was crushed by the weather, but I guess they don’t call it the rain forest for nothing.