The people of Costa Rica refer to themselves as "Tico's" (Tica's for girls) in place of the more formal "Costaricennes". It's a name they gave themselves because of their tendency to add the diminutive “tico” to the end of words. For example, “un poco” means “a little” – in standard Spanish, the diminutive is “un poquito” (a little bit), but Costa Ricans often say “un poquitico.”
This distinguishing linguistic item is, of course, lost on me, as I'm mostly just adding an extra "o" to words and just leaving it at that. Foro exampalito: "Donde esta el roomo key cardo" is something I ask my wife each time we leave for the swimming pool.
Mostly, in return, my guess is that people just think I'm el stupido. My wife at least confirms this for me regularly so I'm guessing I'm right.
At the breakfast buffet this morning here at Arenal Springs I encountered a roundish bulb looking kind of yellow orange in colour fruit. I had no idea what it was. Mikey told me it was a passion fruit. Passiflora! My favourite slurpee drink in Israel! But I'd never actually seen one and thought it only came in slurpee machines. Imagine my delight to know that such a thing actually exists in nature!
But how to open this bulb to get to the passion fruit inside? Again, Mikey was helpful and told me to simply cut it in half. The accompanying photo shows my reaction at the mass of seed infested gelatinous slugs that inhabits the interior. I slurped them all up, mind you.
The Arenal volcano fills the view of the picture windows in our room here at the Arenal Springs Resort & Spa and pretty much dominates your every gaze from anywhere in the vicinity. It's simply a magnetic and majestic thing to see a truly iconic cone shaped volcano. The volcano is named after our hotel. Or vice-versa. I can't quite tell from the brochures.
It last erupted in 1968. (The volcano, not the hotel, I mean). It smoked for about 42 years after that but then started wearing a patch and hasn't really smoked much since 2010, except for Tuesday's when it plays poker with some of its neighbouring buddy volcanos.
Until then it was in the Top 10 most active volcanos in the world! And that's saying something, as anyone who's ever tried to get their professional volcano tour card can attest.
We had a lazy day until later this afternoon and our trek to see the volcano and its adjacent rainforest, so we headed for the pool to lay down our base tan. When the restaurant chef came out to declare us truly well done, we headed into the little city of La Fortuna to check it out.
As Eminem noted, the city at the base of the volcano changed its name from something else to La Fortuna when the volcano erupted in 1968... in the other direction.
We are looking for what is referred to as "typico" food for our meals. That can be found at restaurants calling themselves "Soda" - little hole in the wall kind of places. We ended up at "Garra-Pata Covina de la Lena" for lunch.
It's an Israeli-owned but Tico run joint that advertises itself as having the very best smoked pork ribs in town. Debbie and I enjoyed the "Volcan Di Arrozzo" instead - a delicious volcano of rice with veggies.
The sign in Hebrew outside saying simply 'restaurant' likely draws in Jews from around the world (never mind that they have the best smoked pork ribs!) but in fact the Tico carving the ribs at the bar b q pit only knew how to greet us with 'Ma Nishma ?' (what's happening?) and then was pretty much lost when we replied 'Kol Beseder'. We all agreed to just use Spanglish after that.
The volcano of rice set us up nicely for the volcano and rain forest trek to follow, also known as "Things that can kill you in Costa Rica". Led by Carlos and his apprentice Hector, we scrambled up and down for a few hours, desperately trying to find some. With success! Indeed, pretty much the first thing we spotted was a pit viper. I use the word 'we' liberally here.
'We' actually means Carlos or Hector. The other 'we' were the ones who more likely would get killed by what they found for us to look at.
Top four things that can kill you in Costa Rica:
No. 1: pit viper
No. 2: pitted viper
No. 3: seedless viper
No. 4: cars driven by Tico's
Only 600 people annually are actually bitten by a snake in Costa Rica. Of them only 1 will die. So really, when we head into the rainforest it's just another spin on the roulette wheel of life and the odds are pretty good, unless you're that one poor guy each year, in which case the odds are 100% lousy.
The Refugio Silencio rainforest we visited on the slopes of the volcano gets to be a very dark forest indeed and Carlos made it clear that we needed to be out of it before nightfall (and when it falls here, it really falls quickly), unless we wanted to increase our odds.
Here is what we saw on our rainforest trek today:
Leaf cutter ants
And something else we learned: even the Tico's refer to the iguana as "chicken of the tree"! Apparently that is just so obvious that you couldn't miss it.
Our luxe resort is about 5 minutes out of town. To celebrate our luck I n not joining either the 600 Club (or the even more elite but somewhat less sought status in the 1 in 600 Club) we went into town to eat at Carlo's favourite place: Nene's Ceviche House. Where our waiters Danny & Luis gave us new names - Miguel, Ali, Natalie and .... Debbie.
Tomorrow, more opportunities to be killed! What fun we are having!!