The town of La Fortuna bears many resemblance to small towns in the Philippines. The plaza is the center of the town with the church across from it - just like in the town where I was born and raised.
The St. John Bosco Church.
A long time ago someone told me to enter every church I see when I travel because the probability that my prayer would be answered is higher. Well, I don't really ask anymore, I just say thanks.
The plaza across from the church. It was too hot to linger outside and walk around the plaza.
We roamed around the perimeter of the plaza, visiting shops and tour company offices mainly checking prices for certain tours. We weren't really interested in signing up for an organized tour. We figured the town is small enough that it can be explored by ourselves. We just need transportation. Along the downtown area there are designated areas for taxis. We didn't see much buses, just taxis. And the taxis are in line, so everything is in order. You get the first taxi in line. We got lucky, we found William. I'll tell you later why.
We asked William to take us to the Arenal Volcano Nat'l Park. Wasn’t far, but the road was not paved, it was like riding in a bumper car. Upon inquiry he said they have to change tires every 2 months because of bad roads, but the gov’t subsidizes this – he reasoned must be cheaper for govt to do this than to pave all the roads. He ended that with a sheepish grin. We were here for an authentic Costa Rican adventure and that is what we’re getting, including the bumpy gravel and dirt roads.
We paid our entrance fee and he drove up until the parking area. Then we asked him if he could pick us up after 2 hours and take us to the waterfalls. He agreed. And not only did he agree he didn’t want to get paid until the end of the day - see we got lucky. We jotted down the mileage and kept the tally with us. What an honest guy, isn’t he? We are foreigners and he trusted us. He doesn’t even know where we stay. We could have easily turned around and called for another cab you know.
With our paid entrance we were given a little brochure that had maps of the trails. We took this trail first and then realized that this would not take us to the observation point. So we backtracked and studied our maps again and eventually found the right trail. The trails in this part are not long. The longest if I'm not mistaken was only 2 km.
We're nearing the observation point at this stage.
Arenal Volcano, in Spanish Volcán Arenal, is an active andesitic stratovolcano in north-western Costa Rica around 90 km northwest of San José, in the province of Alajuela, canton of San Carlos, and district of La Fortuna. The Arenal volcano measures at least 1,633 metres (5,358 ft),. It is conically shaped with a crater spanning 140 metres (460 ft). Arenal is geologically considered a young volcano and the age is estimated to be less than 7,000 years. It is also known as "Pan de Azúcar", "Canaste", "Volcan Costa Rica", "Volcan Río Frío" or "Guatusos Peak".
The volcano was dormant for hundreds of years and exhibited a single crater at its summit, with minor fumaroles activity, covered by dense vegetation. In 1968 it erupted unexpectedly, destroying the small town of Tabacón. Due to the eruption three more craters were created on the western flanks but only one of them still exists today. Since October 2010, Arenal's volcanic activity appears to be decreasing and explosions have become rare [wiki]
On the walk back to the to entrance of the park, we were taking it slowly and chatting nonstop until we saw some guavas all over the ground. We saw that the trail we took was lined with guava trees and there were ripe fruits.
We found a new use for the umbrella.
Exactly two hours later and just as the rain was starting to come down, William was pulling up to bring us to the next destination.