Volcan Arenal

Travis and I had another "we've got the van so lets go exploring" weekend.  This time we did an overnight trip to Arenal to see the volcano and the lake.

Volcan Arenal is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, or so the guidebook tells me.  It was covered in clouds while we were there, so we didn't see the lava flows that pour down the mountain at night.  But we did see what we assumed were huge rocks bouncing down the ash slopes kicking up clouds of ash and steam as they went.

We stayed at the Montaña de Fuego, which was sort of like an all-inclusive resort with a spa and tours, their own walking trails and jungle, and even a herd of horses.  They gave us red bracelets which we had to show when we went to the restaurant or talked to anyone in reception.  Weird, I thought.  The cabins were good though and we had a great view of the volcano from our deck.

Montaña de FuegoVolcan Arenal

We drove around the lake and had our first encounters with Costa Rican wildlife in the form of strange raccoon/possum looking things.  I looked them up online when I got home, they're coatis or pezotes in Spanish.  They were scavenging for food that people dropped out of their car windows.  Teaching small animals to beg for food on the road seems like a dodgy undertaking to me – just asking for them to be run over or the queued-up cars to crash into each other.  But there weren't any furry corpses on the road and no banged-up cars, so it seemed to be working.

PizotesScavenging

We also saw lots of birds.  Buzzards lined up on the cabins at the hotel, waiting for something to die.  A flock of cattle egrets perched in a tree looking like enormous white flowers.  White herons.  A kingfisher.  And, most exciting of all, a toucan, sitting on a letter box by the side of the road, looking wildly exotic to us despite its prosaic surroundings.  I couldn't take a photo, but I've found some pictures online.  We're pretty sure that it was a Keel-Billed Toucan, which looks like this…Cool huh?

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