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Sat Oct 12 2013: Landslides on the way to Arenal

After a couple of days at the beach, we are doubling back towards Liberia and then heading towards one of Costa Rica's most popular attractions: the Arenal volcano. The Guanacaste province that we are currently riding through is the driest part of CR. I guess everything is relative because it's still rainy season and we're still encountering daily afternoon showers. :(

Bridge helps break up the monotony of a stretch of the monotonous Pan-American

The road and scenery get more interesting once we hop onto the road to Arenal

When road of life throws you a curve, just lean into it

Stopping for lunch to admire the scenery

Rding around Lake Arenal up ahead. It's an artificial lake made by the Arenal dam for hydroelectric power!

Passing through Nuevo Arenal. This town was relocated when the lake was expanded in 1979.

And then, oops...!

Neda had the whole route planned for the day. It was supposed to be a 250km day so we left pretty late in the morning hoping to arrive at the town of La Fortuna, just outside the Arenal Volcano, by early afternoon. Unfortunately, only 30 kms away from our destination, we found the way closed due to a cave-in and construction vehicles were on the scene rebuilding the road. There was a dirt road to our left and it looked like we could have detoured around the roadblock, but this guy told us two people just died in a landslide in that area earlier.

Because that was quite the opposite of what we wanted to do, we turned back to Nuevo Arenal and stopped for the night as the rainclouds were rolling in for the day.

I found us some cheap accommodations in Nuevo Arenal! $20!

We love it when we find a good place for a great price. This hotel was actually a restaurant with a few rooms attached to it, and we sat out on the patio with a couple of cervezas on the main strip watching most of the population of Nuevo Arenal walk by us.

Trivia: Neda has a sticker of the Indian deity Ganesh on her bike from our ride up the Indian Himalayas.
Ganesh is known as the "remover of obstacles". We'll see how well he does tomorrow...

The next morning we asked a guy in town how to get to La Fortuna. He tells us to go back the way we came from and that there should be no construction. So we take his word, ride back 20kms and see the exact same construction site. We forgot the golden rule of asking for directions in Latin America: ask at least three people and if more than one person gives you the same answer, that must be the right one...

So we're doubling back and instead of waiting for the construction to end, we're going to take the long way around, looping all the way north to Upala, around the Tenorio Volcano to arrive from the other side of Fortuna. It's a 250km long detour and most of it was in the rain. But at least there were no landslides.

From our experiences in India and now in Costa Rica, I think Ganesh means "detour around obstacles"...

Rainy season puddles

We arrive in La Fortuna without incident and plan our next day's activities. There are tons of things to do around here - all the brochures were advertising zip-lining, biking, rafting, tubing, horses. We settled on the most budget-appropriate activity: hiking up the volcano. Neda's favorite activity! Mine... not so much.

Arenal is too steep to climb, so we're hiking up Cerro Chatto, just to the South-East.
From there, there is a small lake in the crater that we can swim in and get some good views of Arenal

First part of the hike is fairly flat and easy-going. We pass by some older hikers who had to take a break. Haha. Old people...

Neda finds a great natural parasol

About 45 minutes into the hike the trail gets muddier and steeper.
While we stop to catch our breath, some college kids pass us.
I thought I heard one of them mutter "Old people", and then laugh...

We get to the top and had to wait a while for the clouds to part to see Arenal


Once we got to the rim of Cerro Chato, it was a very short hike down the steep jungle-covered crater walls into the green lagoon of the caldera below. Because the crater was larger than I thought. It didn't really feel like you were inside a dormant volcano, but it was still a great refreshing dip after a couple hours of hot and humid strenuous hiking!

Swimming in the rim of the Cerro Chato crater

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