Skip to Content

Day 11 – Erupting Arenal Volcano and a Steamy Hot Springs Night

Day 11: Sunday, May 22, 2006

7:18 am

Oops, I did it again, got a little drunk last night.  Had a good time though.  Let's see, at 11 am, I went to the local spa.  I first had a ” gentleman's facial.”?  It was an hour of various oils, lotions, massage, and a mask being applied.  Afterward, my face felt like a baby's bottom, very soft!  The facial was done by the owner who was quite nice.  It included a pimple popping session I didn't expect, and was rather painful.  Next was a pedicure, which included pushing back my cuticles clipping off the surrounding, calloused dead skin, and filing off the dead skin on the bottom of my foot.  For that part, the young girl wore a mask, lots of dead skin was flying off, and so I could understand why.  Afterward, my feet left softer and looked cleaner and prettier .  No wonder girls like to get this stuff done.  Last, was a massage.  I had asked for the volcanic rock, however ended up getting what seemed to be a normal massage, though with three scented oils.  The room was cool and candlelit.  Nice music played.  Classical, I think.  I opted to try something new, and took off my boxers.  Boy, starting face up, I had to do everything I could not to pop a boner once she got started.  I was seriously trying to meditate, including recitation of a four line poem from the book I'm reading.  It was a good massage though.  The whole experience was splendid, indulgent. It ran me $150.  I got a discount off the total cost though, which saved me about $18. At the end, I asked if a tip was normal, and was told whatever I wanted was okay.  I pulled out a $5 and gave it to the girl.  Later, I realize that didn't seem like much – ¢2500.  I started to feel guilty, I had thought about tipping ¢10000 ($20).  That would be a good bit for her I'm sure.  I started feeling cheap. Eventually, I forgave myself and forced myself to let it go.  3 pm was the volcano hike/tour.

Our guide was Oscar, he loved his job, and volcanoes, was very enthusiastic.  One of the best tour guides I think I've ever seen.  He brought a (tele)scope with him, so we could easily see the lava break from the top crater, and tumble down the face of the volcano.  We walked through vegetation 36 years old that grew from the last lava flow, and from soil (where there was no lava flow).  Over volcanic landscape of rocks the view was awesome, no clouds covering the peak, we saw it clearly, the whole time ~ 4 hours.  I saw my first toucan, through the scope.  Very colorful, silly looking birds.  At twilight, full moon appeared and you could see the rocks tumbling were red, molten lava, awesome.

The sunset over LakeArenal was great too.  Next, we hit the hot springs of Talbacore, a resort/spa.  At the start, I was with a few people from the hile, I then splintered off.  I set up a tab at a bar by the springs, and ordered a mango daiquiri.  They gave me 2, it was a happy hour special, 2 for 1.  I looked around for a girl to give it to.  I spotted a pretty girl alone sitting against a waterfall.  I offered her the extra drink, and she was appreciative.  I grabbed a seat next to her and we started talking.  She was on vacation before starting her high school teaching job, freshman English.  Her name was Bona (Bow-nah).  She had a nice, petite body, looked great in a bikini.  At one point she put her head back against the waterfall, and I looked over to see a very sexy picture with the water pouring down her body.  Alas, she mentioned being on the trip with her boyfriend, Drew. We kept talking, and she invited me to continue pool-hopping with them.  There was an Israeli girl, Katie hanging with them, and a real estate guy, from Manassas, VA. I got a second drink, Cuba Libre (rum, coke, lemon) for Katie and I.  And last drinks were strawberry daiquiris and I gave one to another girl we were with.  Before they kicked us out around 9:15 pm, I got a pic under a hot waterfall with Bona and Katie, hope it comes out well! That'll be my big pimpin' pic.

A couple of American doctors invited us back to their lodging, Volcano Lodge, for more drinks.  It was a bachelor party trip for 2 of the 3 guys.  One of them was a 28-year old neurosurgeon at Mt.Sinai in NYC, another a radiologist.  They had a patio view of the volcano that was picture-perfect.  The red, lava-topped crater was glowing red in the night's sky.  The moon was full, and whiter than I'd ever seen it before.  Simply glowing. They had a laptop, so we were playing music.  They had lots of liquor, I was drinking vodka and cokes (2).  At one point a neighbor came out and asked us to be quiet.  I was surprised that was it, we were quite loud.  It was wonderful, the weather was perfect. We got a ride back to town in an SUV from a guy who was also staying at the Volcano Lodge.  Got to bed at 2 am.  Woke up at 7 am.  Another slight hangover, more feelings of tiredness though.  Must drink less tonight.  I ordered huevos rancheros, oj, coffee from Soda Viquez adjacent to Hotel Fortuna.  The owner, Mario, is quite friendly.  Breakfast was good.  I'm waiting the 8:30 am transport to Montaverde.  And I need to crap.

I took the jeep/boat/jeep trip to Monteverde.  The jeeps were actually mini tour vans.  The section to LakeArenal was smooth, paved, and filled with views of the volcano.  I was sitting next to two Canadian girls. The boat ride was about 30 minutes, quite smooth, beautiful green countryside.  The vans waiting for us on the other side, took us on a 1.5 hours bumpy ride by little towns and farms, coffee, milk cows, goats, tomatoes to say the least.  Very picturesque.  One of the three vans broke down 15 minutes into the trip. Our van driver would stop for us, and then catch up to pass the other van.  He was a speedy driver.  We pulled into Santa Elena on time, 11:30am.  I guess all the roads around here are unpaved. Lots of motorbikes and 4×4's.

After booking two nights in the Pension de Santa Elena (dorm, $5 a night), I reserved a spot on the 1:30 pm Sky Trek canopy tour.  At the last minute, Jen, one of the Canadian girls decided to go.  I was happy about that because I could share the experience with her, and hopefully establish a bond, get to know her a bit.

The initial climb up to the first line was a bit worrisome, as was the first (short) zip.  As they got bigger, higher, faster (zips 1-10), I felt more and more confident.  It was amazing. On many lines, we couldn't see the end.  Just zipped through the clouds, trees, rain.  There was thunder too.

Crazy, awesome, thrilling, adrenaline rush.  It was hard to take it all in, I had to remember to turn my head.  On the fastest one, you (I) could get up to 40 mph.  It felt that fast as the rain hitting my face started to hurt, and my jacket ballooned and howled in the wind.  On the longest one (½ mile), in the midst, I said aloud my Buddhist meditation,

Waking up each morning, I smile
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me
I vow to live fully each day
And look at all beings with eyes of compassion.

It felt great to say it aloud.  Great.  Special.  There's a power to saying it aloud.  And I got pics of Jen, and me and others.  We talked some more, she's been to university for anthropology, recognized it doesn't suit her, took massage classes and waitresses. She snowboards at Blackcomb/Whistler.  Before we stopped, I asked if she was interested in dinner.  She said it was her last night before San Jose and home, and said I could join her and her friend (Meegan or Megan).  I said yeah in a way to indicate that was my intent, not that I was just interested in dinner with her.  So I'm writing now, meeting with them at 7 pm. I wrote Kai another email.  He'll be down for 9 days soon after I've left.

Monday morning I'm going to try and catch the 6:15 am bus to the Monteverde Reserve, tour, get the 11 am bus back, and hopefully do an afternoon ATV tour of the countryside. I'm thinking it's possible cause I wore my boots today, from about 1 pm to 4 pm without too much trouble.  At one point, in the rain, halfway through, my top of feet began itching like crazy.  I couldn't do anything, so I tried to take my mind off it, and it seemed to work.

Bus ticket times

Mon, Fri         –          5:45am to 11am
1:30pm to 5pm

Get ticket 1 day in advance to reserve seat.  Need to get connection to get to Tamarindo.


5:45 am  wake/shower/dress
6:10 am  get bus ticket
6:15 am  bus to Monteverde
6:45 am  guided tour
11:00 am   bus back to Santa Elena
book pm activity, ATV, horseback ride, hike through town, butterfly garden, serpentarium
Total paid: $46 for canopy tour (Visa)
Withdrew ¢50,000 or $100 cash

Last Updated on December 3, 2018 by Dave Lee