Leave Atenas around 7:00, 90% of our roads were wet, narrow, and "barfic" (those prone to car sickness). We traveled through several towns including:
- San Jose Norte
- San Juanillo
- Llano Bonita
- Then I'm not so sure (I think we got a little lost)
- La Fortuna
- Landing at the Observatory Lodge at the Arenal Volcano around 3:00 pm.
Our stop in Zarcero was memorable. Looking like it was designed from Dr. Seuss (that is straight out of the travel guide), there are numerous cypress topiaries in fanciful animal shapes - designed by a local landscape artist Evangelisto Blansco. In addition to the topiaries, the grey catholic church in the back drop is really quite spectacular. An interesting fact about Catholic churches (90% of Costa Rican's call themselves Catholic - the official religion in the country's constitution) - the entrances face west, thus leaving the congregation facing east which is the direction of Rome. If ever lost in the fog - look for the front doors on the towns catholic church to get your bearings. The other memorable event for me in Zarcero was a local bakery that served stuffed chocolate donuts. I left Costa Rica with few regrets - having eaten only one donut was one for sure! Can a person survive solely on chocolate stuffed donuts in Zarcero, Costa Rica?
Officially named the "day for the adventure racer". The day started with a two our hike through the cloud forest with the couples, a few others, and our tour guide David. A talk through the forest and eight suspension bridges gave all of a us a good look at the flora and fauna, and my wife even enjoyed the suspension bridges which she was anxious about. The zip lines followed - nine of them through, under, and over the cloud forests reaching speeds close to 50 mph hanging at times 290 ft above the ground. It was a blast! The couples split up and did their own thing: Mclean's took off to another zip line, suspension bridge, and swing location - it was closed so we aren't sure what they actually did? Hall's tried to go on a coffee tour, but instead tested the liability coverage under their rental car agreement by side swiping a vehicle - they point the finger at each other for fault, Allen's went to an unbelievable orchid plantation - 400 different species - all of which were so small the tip of a pencil gave us perspective - BORING! THEN, we grabbed a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop - great time and photographs at this little business. Then, a night hike through the rain forest with head lamps. Locals say 80% of the mammals are nocturnal - we saw one, and 1,000's of species of insects - we saw 10 or so - most of which were around the pond wall outside the entrance to the park. Jonathan commented "if there are thousands, why did we only see three?" Though he wouldn't say it, there was a feeling we got ripped off. Jonathan is convinced the animals left several years ago as human's moved in.