I’m exhausted after three days of all play and no work. What a life, right? We have two days of six-hour classes and a paper due Friday, though, so it’ll get a little less fun soon. We don’t have class until 2 today, though – our only day without morning class – so I woke up at 9 and laid out for awhile, then swam in the pool for the first time since I’ve been here. I’m still sort of sick, so I was gasping like an asthmatic after like 2 laps, but it felt good to get out and swim. Everyone is at the library right now writing their essays, and so I felt like a total slacker not doing my essay right now…so I’m in the cafeteria and I’ll start my essay after I write this.
Anyway. We went on a “field trip” yesterday to the Arenal volcano and Baldi Hot Springs. Everything is so inaccessible here – like, it’s only 9 miles from Alajuela to San Jose, yet it takes over a half hour to get to the capital. It's because the roads are so curvy since they have to get through all the mountains, and traffic is just sometimes really slow. The scenery is awesome, though.
The volcano was still in the Alajuela province, but we left at 8 a.m. and it took 3 and a half hours to get there. We stopped at an artisan shop on the way and took a few detours through cities, but I just wanted to get off the bus after being on it for over 10 hours this weekend.
I don’t usually get carsick, but the roads are so winding in Costa Rica that everyone was feeling pretty nauseous by the time we were done. One of the girls actually got sick, but the rest of us were just glad to be on solid ground.
We went to another Italian restaurant for lunch. I don’t know what it is about Costa Rica and Italian restaurants, but I’ve had pizza three days in a row now and it’s all been really good. We ordered Pizza Hut Sunday night after we got back from Puerto Viejo, since the cafeteria wasn’t open and it was too late to get a taxi and go out. The Pizza Hut here is better than the Pizza Huts in the U.S. The cheese is better and the crust isn’t as greasy, two things I can’t stand about Pizza Hut in the U.S. It was actually amazing.
After lunch, we went hiking near the volcano. The volcano was dormant for 400 years and then erupted in the 1960’s, wiping out the village that was right next to the volcano. It’s erupted pretty much every day since, and we got to see the rocks rolling down the volcano and the smoke rising from the top. We obviously couldn’t go near the summit, since it’s an active volcano, and we couldn’t go on the actual volcano but we hiked pretty close.
We had the option of going on the long hike or the short walk once we got to the volcano, and all of us elected to take the long hike. A few people should have definitely taken the short walk, because once they realized we’d be walking through the forest and hiking on lava rocks, they started complaining nonstop. It was awesome. The first part of the hike was really easy, just walking through the rainforest. The guide warned us about snakes, so everyone was staring at the ground instead of looking through the trees, which was especially funny when Janelle freaked out after seeing a dead leaf and Alex almost went through the roof.
After walking through the forest, we finally hit the lava rocks from where the volcano erupted in 1992.
(The sign on this picture says, "Danger - Area of High Volcanic Activity. No Trespassing." If you click on the picture, or any picture on here, you can see the enlarged version. Our guide let us go past the sign, which was pretty badass.) We had to climb up the lava rocks, and a lot of them were loose, so we had to call down to the others when we stepped on a loose rock so nobody would trip. Again, a few of the girls were complaining about having to climb the rocks, which was pretty annoying…but climbing near the volcano was just one of the coolest things ever.
The scenery was gorgeous. We could see the Lago Arenal from where we were, which was a good 10-12 km away from the volcano, and we were so close we could see the rocks rolling down the ash on the slope. We got to the top, took pictures (“we made it!”) and made our way back down.
We were all pretty sweaty and tired by the time we were done, so we got on the bus and went to the hot springs.
It was more of a tourist trap than a natural hot springs, I think, but it was still so relaxing. There was an insane water slide that was so fast, my body wasn’t even on the slide by the time I hit the last curve – I just kind of careened into the water, and everyone was on the other side of the pool, dying of laughter every time someone flew into the pool from the slide. There were maybe 10 pools of all different temperatures, but the coolest one was about 100 degrees and the hottest was about 115. With my splotchy back sunburn, it was a little too hot for me in the hottest pools, but we all just relaxed and soaked in the pools.
We were the youngest ones there by about 30 or 40 years, except for one couple who looked like they were on their honeymoon and were full-on making out in the coolest pool. Everyone else was old and European. There was a wet bar, but the cocktails were 10 dollars and a Corona was 6.50, so nobody bothered getting a drink. Again, so much on this trip is so chill. I’m used to doing a million things at once and being super busy, so I’m trying really hard to learn to relax and just enjoy myself. It’s been great.