Of course, the drive from Monteverde to Arenal was a bit of an adventure. Not in a bad way so much as in a long way. We gassed up in Cobano and then headed to Paquera to see about the ferry. The line of cars looked too long for the next ferry (which was still about 90 minutes from leaving), so we grabbed some lunch at a local soda (after trying without luck the ATM next door) and drove on to Playa Naranjo to check that ferry. This time no line at all -- the ferry had just left. So we ended up driving up to Quebrada Honda and across the bridge.
We drove for a couple hours before the gas gage moved -- dirt roads in not the best of condition kept us going a bit slow. Sarah remembered reading that Costa Rica and all it's diversity of climate and ecology was crammed into a space smaller that West Virginia. She was a bit shocked at how much longer it takes to drive across Costa Rica than West Virginia. We left our beach house a bit before noon and got to Arenal Observatory about 8:30. Another long travel day for Robert, but he put up with it very well. On the way around Lake Arenal, we could see some orange glowing bits that were lava on the slopes of the volcano. But the next day it was completely covered with clouds.
|The Arenal Observatory folks have an animal feeding station right outside the restaurant. So while we couldn't see much of the volcano the next day, we did see lots of birds and this pesoto.|
|They also have some nice trails on the property and a hanging bridge between our room and the restaurant. So we walked around a bit and tried to stay out of the car after our long trip the previous day.|
|The 21st also started out very cloudy -- this is the view of the volcano out our window. But the sun started to peak out after breakfast and the clouds on the volcano started to clear.|
|Robert made new friends with Locke, Amelia and their parents at Arenal. The international language of cars and trucks served Robert and Locke. After breakfast, we headed to the trail down to the waterfall with our new found friends.|
|It was a very pretty spot. And Robert walked a lot of the way on this jungle adventure. We saw a line of ants with a major ant highway crossing the trail about halfway back (hard to photograph well).|
|After some required photos of the now clear and smoking volcano, we headed to the butterfly garden.|
|The butterfly garden tour started with a snake that the guide assured us was not poisonous before he handed it to Robert. The butterfly gardens I remember touring before were not nearly so well maintained. This one was clean and much less crowded than I remember. But butterflies flying around are just as hard to photograph as I remember.|
|The guide pointed this guy out to us in the frog portion of the butterfly garden. They also had several poison arrow frogs and some very large toads. But Robert was getting hot and we knew will had some driving ahead of us so we hopped back in the car for our drive to Monteverde.|
The car we rented from budget was a Toyota RAV 4. I was pretty impressed at how it handled the roads we subjected it to. We did manage to loosen the skid plate, but had that repaired in Monteverde with a couple tie wraps. I was also impressed with the relative ease of renting the car, getting it in Mal Pais (close to Montezuma) and returning it to the airport -- without a huge one-way rental fee.