December 29, 2002 (Sunday)
Today was our day for making the long drive to
Rincon de la Vieja, which we planned as a 5-6 hour
After getting an early start with the Chapmans, we stopped at a small local
zoo and saw a variety of Costa Rican wildlife (they breed tapirs there). From
there, we continued our drive passed Arenal, the largest and most active volcano
in the country. Normally topped with clouds, Arenal's crater was often visible
to us on this clear day. The last eruptions were in 1993 and 1998, and people
gather at night to see lava flowing down the slopes.
From there, we continued our drive on a long,
unpaved road around Arenal Lake. We stopped at "Toad Hall" for lunch,
which was an oasis in the middle of nowhere (great food, nice shop). We also
saw our first howler monkeys, and a coati along the road.
We continued and stopped in Liberia at a grocery
store for food upplies, and then began the 18 km trip on a rough, unpaved
road to the Buena Vista
Lodge. Along the way, we stopped to see the "Buena Vista Rodeo",
which was just beginning. It was quite a scene! We stood out as the only tourists
there, and were specifically recognized by the announcer! The rodeo was fun
for a while, but we only stayed for 3 bull riders (we wanted to arrive at
the lodge before dark). All 3 riders
stayed on their bulls, and we enjoyed seeing the bulls then chase all the
local kids who ran around the ring.
The final part of the drive was longer and rougher
than we expected, and we arrived just before dark. We stayed in 3 cabins (split
with our 2 families). We had a buffet dinner, played games, and made plans
for the several activities offered by the lodge.