Costa Rica: The volcano shaking all senses - Arenal (Part 1 of 5)

Plane - car - waterfall. Action!

After a tremendously long flight of 12 hours from Amsterdam to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, Jenthe and I jump into a little van and experience by far the worst traffic jam in our lives. In San Jose, thousands of cars are simply queuing for several hours for a distance, which should not take more than 30 minutes. Our driver is, however, listening to some reggaeton radio and has apparently no worries in life...
Long story short, we have not spent much time in San Jose and frankly, if you have a limited time, it could easily remain a transit place.

However, Costa Rica is something to see. It is the most environmentally friendly country in its region, it has no army and geographically, standing over the clashing of massive tectonic plates in the core of the Earth, it possesses a special energy, which explains the spiritual seekers all over the place.

The following day, we rent our 4x4 vehicle and head to our first destination, La Fortuna, which is the village  to stay, when you want to visit the Arenal volcano national park. Jet lagged we may be, we throw our bags in a tiny (really tiny!) Airbnb with a view at the volcano, put on some swimming suits and go right into the local waterfall, as we only have 2 hours until closing time. I have never swam in a waterfall and I am quite hesitant in the beginning, but hey... closing time is soon. And it is a good feeling.
As soon as I jump into the cold water, I immediately tune into a roadtripping mode. 

La Fortuna is a place where we would love to stay longer, if we had the chance. It seems like a bit of a hidden gem. It is not very developed, but we ask around and find a super cool bar with live reggae music and premium artisanal Costa Rican beers, which can serve even the most demanding Belgian taste.
A proper Caribbean vibe in the feet of an active volcano! 

First encounter with Sloths to melt your heart 

Still jet lagged, we head for an extra early morning tour of the "sloth territory". I am kind of excited since I have a special affection for sloths and I have never seen one in their natural habitat. I usually don't fancy taking tours with a guide but I quickly accept the idea that in Costa Rica we cannot spot the more rare animals without one. What's more - this is the only way local people make a living, and on top of that - they are always incredibly sweet. 

There is something about Costa Rican locals and guides in particular, that they have this innocent and childish vibe. Maybe because I cannot imagine that a person who spends their life looking for sloths and frogs with a binocular around their neck, can have any vicious thought. Furthermore, they are always so excited. Any time our guide spots a sloth, he is elated and enthusiastic as if it is the first sloth he has ever spotted... while they see at least 30-40 of them every day. Costa Rican guides are the sweetest!
As for me, I must admit that the first time I spot a sloth, I have a few drops of tears out of happiness.
This fluffy ball who hangs on its branch, scratches its fur, home to its own bacteria ecosystem, munches on some leaves and just chills, having this constant smile on its face, made me just cry out of happiness (in the middle of a colorful oasis).

The volcano reveals its secrets 

Finally, we make it to the volcano Arenal park itself. I have visited volcanos in Bali and Tenerife, and I expect a huge amount of rocks with some grass and rough bushes here and there. However, I have never seen a jungle so wild in the foot of a volcano. I am in awe. After crying over a sloth, I see a giant, 400-year old Ceiba tree and I no longer know what to do with myself.
I just feel so privileged to inhabit the same space with this tree and I am full of emotion.
Why can't we just love, preserve and learn from nature, which is a system so perfect and human power can replicate what nature can create, but it can destroy it in seconds...

A promising start of our Costa Rican road trip.


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