Christmas in La Fortuna

December 26, 2014 - 1:41 am 3 Comments

This morning, a young Moroccan girl from Montreal joined the group. She says that she narrowly avoided disaster when the ticket agent at the airport wished her a good time in California and she realized that she had booked a flight to the wrong San Jose. That must happen a lot. A pregnant German woman also joined our trip. The third person, a German guy, never showed up.

Jorge told us what to expect for the rest of the day and gave us more options for the next few days.

Jorge Talks to the Group

Jorge Making It Happen

We hopped into a small bus and off we went to La Fortuna. Windy mountain roads took us through the hills, past coffee plantations and countless furniture shops. In the small town of Grecia, we stopped at a church made of Belgian sheet metal.

Iglesia de la Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes

Along the way, we stopped at a souvenir shop where they make oxcarts in the back. Oxcarts were the traditional mode of transportation in Costa Rica until cars came along.

Oxcart Wheel Painter

Oxcart Paint Scraps

Oxcart Paint Cans

In the van, Jorge told us a bit about Costa Rican history and culture. He explained that we were driving north, closer to Nicaragua. Jorge explained that some Nicaraguans are hard-working, productive members of Costa Rican society, but most of them are lazy and work the system. Many cross the border Costa Rica illegally, and there was a pretty good chance we’d see border control and have our passports checked at some point. I asked Jorge if it was easy to distinguish Nicaraguans from Costa Ricans, and he said it was, based on the darker color of their skin and their accents.

And about 30 minutes later, we were in La Fortuna. The small town sits next to Arenal Volcano, a perfectly conical mountain that is unfortunately obscured by clouds, as it often is this time of year. It’s violent eruption in 1968 drew the tourists and led to the establishment of this town. The eruption killed only 6, leading the locals to name the local town La Fortuna, or “The Fortunate”.

At lunch, I sat with Jorge and bonded with him over our common tour leader experiences (I was a leader for Trek America in 2004) and girl problems. He’s a good guy. Our Costa Rican waitress was flirting with me hard, but she didn’t speak a word of English so she didn’t have a chance. 😉

Then a short taxi ride to Catarata La Fortuna, a scenic waterfall in the forest near Arenal. The heavy, moist air made the hike down to the falls was slippery and wet. Once an hour or so, it would rain for about five minutes and then stop.

Catarata Fortuna

Catarata Fortuna

Our dinner activity was a soak in the hot springs at Los Lagos Hotel & Resort. Jorge’s first mention of it made it sound like a natural setting, but it was more like a group of neon-lit thermal pools complete with a full service bar. After a couple of other tour groups showed up, it was like spring break. We got Jorge nice and schnackered. Definitely a unique Christmas experience.

Los Lagos Hotel & Resort

Tonight, I have my own little wooden cabin at our hotel just outside of La Fortuna. Since the guy from Germany never showed up, I’m the odd man out in the group, and it seems that I will be getting my own room from here on out. Yay.

I get up at 6:30am tomorrow for a full-day excursion to Caño Negro, a protected nature reserve with monkeys and sloths and exotic birds.

    3 Responses to “Christmas in La Fortuna”

  1. Yonas H. Says:

    I witnessed so much racism against Nicaraguans when I was in Costa Rica. They wear it right on their sleeve, too. It’s almost as if they’re proud to hate the Nicaraguans, it’s so weird.

    When we were in La Fortuna we got insanely lucky — one night the clouds cleared completely *and* we saw hot lava flowing down the top of the volcano. I will probably never again see that in my lifetime!

  2. Jeff Says:

    Wow, that IS lucky. I never got a chance to see the whole volcano. 🙁

  3. Gaylord Pait Says:

    Great pictures…. especially the waterfall. Man, I’d love to see one of those one day. Anyway, I’m curious about the German dude who didn’t show up, was he the baby daddy?

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