Arenal: Alajeula Region, Costa Rica

Arenal Adventure

December 25, 2014

We boarded our bus to head in land towards Arenal, a large active volcano located in the interior of Costa Rica. It was a nice drive, watching the the landscape change from arid to more forested. I love trying to soak in the feeling of Latin America, how people live, where they live, their houses, their daily routine. Trying to imagine what they are doing, getting food ready for almuerzo (lunch) or headed to work, It is a very different life than we live in the United States. More people living ruraly, smaller homes, more engaged with the outdoors. Then again they don't have the frigid winters like we have. That said, this was more of a trip to learn about the environment and different regions of Costa Rica, as opposed to a cultural immersion. It was my responsibility to draw my kids into the culture, through food, language and engagement the best I could. During all of the bus rides, our guide kept us engaged with information about the areas and then quizzing us for chocolates.

Our first stop was Lake Arenal. We all hopped on a boat to tour around the lake with vistas of the volcano and sights of the wildlife that reside in the area. It was a nice tour, but after 15 minutes the kids lost complete interest and started goofing off.  The entire ride was probably 45 minutes, with 30 minutes of it trying to keep my kids from throwing each other off the boat. Once this trip was done we got back on the bus where we continued our journey and stopped for lunch along the way. The restaurant had a nice lake with fish and the kids went to feed the fish, but were then attacked by fire ants. There was a lot of screaming from this experience. Our trip continued to the La Fortuna where we went zip lining. The zip lining was with Sky Trek Arenal. They have 7 lines the highest being 656 feet and the longest is 2493 feet. Upon arrival we were all fitted for the zip line. Unfortunately our youngest was too short to join so he hung out with my mom who didn't want to go anyway. We took a Gondola up and promptly took pictures as the view was amazing. We were given a practice run, this is where my dad bowed out, and we were ready to start.  Once we started, a rain cloud came in. However, since we started, we had to finish. Zip lining 2493 feet with rain pelting your face is not the best experience, but the height and views of the jungle below were worth it, scary but worth it. The staff was great and accompanied my kids for the long rope lines in fear that their weight would not carry them all the way through. It's about 2.5 hour tour and really worth the adventure, plus half way through there's a juice bar on one of the platforms.

We were all a bit wiped out after our day adventure and boarded the bus on our way to the hotel. We arrived at theTilajari Hotel for the next couple of nights. Another hotel that needed a bit of a face lift, but our rooms overlooked a river where there were caymans resting on it's banks. You don't get that at many places and for the kids it was very exciting.  We had to walk a little to the dinning area, but along the walk were trees with star fruits hanging and mangoes growing. It was exciting to show the kids their natural tropical habitat instead of the where we get them at the grocery store.

December 26, 2014

Today was another really wonderful adventure. We were taken to Rio Penas Blancas where we did a river float with Rio Safari Tours. Not sure the actual outfitter, but this link will give you an idea of where to book or what to look for. There are two options on this tour. The first is to go in the dry boat, which most of the adults opted for (except my husband) and the second to go in the wet boat, which most of the kids opted for. We were given paddles and instructions and started our journey down river. The guides
pointed out the wildlife along the way. There were howler monkeys,
sloths, toucans, caymans, herons, plus an array of plant life. midway through the tour we stopped off at farm on the river banks where we were given a snack and learned about their farming methods and way of life. Upon returning to the boats, we found out why the wet boat was just that. There was a water fight and my middle fell into the river with caymans swimming around. They loved it. It was a nice relaxing way to see a lot of the flora and fauna and wildlife in Costa Rica.

We dried off, ate some lunch and then were off to our next adventure at The Golden Pinapple Tour.
Our guide for this tour was amazingly funny and kept us engaged and laughing. He also gave the kids pineapple "lollipops" (fresh pineapples, that he cut up) during the tour. It was nice to again show that kids where food actually comes from.  If anything, the tour is worth it for the freshness of the pineapples. They are so sweet and juicy, not like anything you can get in the supermarkets in the States. After the tour you do get a chance to eat more pineapples and have a drink.

We were done for the day and went back to the hotel to pack up for our trip to the caribbean coast.  I had heard this was not the best place to go in Costa Rica as safety can be a bit of an issue, but was excited to see what was in store as we were to be staying in a "jungle hotel."

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