Sunday, August 29, 2010
Monteverde to Arenal Volcano. 65 miles. August 25th, 2010
This without exception was our most grueling drive to date. We knew we would have to drive the same route out of Monteverde to get to the volcano and the stretch of road between Monteverde and Tilaran is just jaw jarring, not to think about the stress on the RV. Ourfirst stop was a small woodwork shop that we had passed on the way in specializing in rosewood carvings. There was some beautiful wood carvings all done on site by the owner. We settled on purchasing a small bowl, cutting board and a wine holder, all exceptional quality and then it was on to see Danilo at the farm. This was a welcome break from the drive. Danilo has built a fantastic barn for his 4 horses, two of whom are pregnant. This barn looks better than some of the houses that we have seen. Lucky horses! We also checked out the rest of his property. Winston had a great time, running and sniffing everything. The beagle in him comes out so much more in the countryside with it's unique animal smells. We stayed about an hour and it was with reluctance that we set off but we knew we still had a long way to go. After Tilaran we circled Lake Arenal and across the dam towards the volcano. According to one of our guidebooks we would be able to park at the Observatory Lodge. This entailed another off road, bone shaking experience of about 15 kilometers. As we got closer, we could hear the volcano and see clouds of smoke erupting from it. There are 7 active volcanoes in Costa Rica, Arenal is the only one that erupts with molten rocks and lava, 2 others emit gases and smoke and the other 4are currently sleeping. We were looking forward to stopping and getting a break. It was 4:15 when we arrived at the lodge and the guard informed us that no-one but guests could get in after 4pm. We begged and pleaded but he was rudely adamant. We asked for him to call the manager for us and he refused. Perplexed we inquired if there was a restaurant at the lodge and we were told yes, but that is also for guests only after 4pm. We later found out that was not true but for whatever reason, maybe the guard had some bad experience with Rvers (hard to believe) or just didn't want to let us in (we tried to stay polite with him) but the reality was we had no where to go. We had parked just below the gate entrance and decided to cool our tempers, walk Winston and think. Darkness falls around 6pm here and we knew we could not drive back down the road we had come. In addition, I was frustrated because I so wanted to have a good view of the volcano in the hope that we could see a true eruption. Let me tell you, I was wishing evil on the guard as I vented. As we walked down the road just about a block, we came to a small private park operated by 3 men. We chatted with the man at the entrance and explained our our dilemma. No problem, said Lion (his name, no kidding), you can either park where you are or come into our park. We have an observation area and I will light the tiki torches so you can view the volcano. Our faith in the local people restored, we decided to leave the RV, where it was and take hime up on his offer to view the volcano. We walked back to the motorhome, ate, fed Winston and took off again for the reserve. Winston was allowed also. To get to the observation area, we had to cross a very rickety, wooden suspention bridge and follow the lit tiki torches to the viewing area. We sat and sat. The volcano seemed like it was almost within our reach and we listened to it huffing and puffing with intermittant explosions of fumes and smoke. We were fascinated but I really wanted to see molten red rocks and lava. By 9:30, we were tired and stiff from sitting. Manfred, their resident biologist stopped by and so did a young french couple who proceeded to set up their tent. They were going to watch all night. Tom and I decided to call it a night and go to the RV. We settled in, gave Winston a treat and I opened my book to read a little. "BOOM"!! I swear we felt the RV rock a little. "That was the volcano" I said gloomily "and we missed it". Sure enough, if we had only stayed another 30 mins. It was supposedly spectacular with a huge burst and 3 distinct rivers of flowing lava and I missed it. When we come back with Danny and Nicole, I am praying that I will see one. As we slept we could hear the spurts and hisses that the volcano constantly makes, how cool is that!