|LaFortuna offers a wide variety of ways to play. We had choices of mountain biking, white water rafting, canyoning, bungee jumping, horseback riding, night hikes at the volcano to view lava, windsurfing and kite boarding on Lake Arenal, hikes to swim in the locally famous La Fortuna waterfall, and more. Since the canyoning was simply rappelling down waterfalls, and I've been rappelling before, I decided to pass on that. I also didn't need to do another rafting trip, and I felt a little too tired for a strenuous hike. I was looking forward to some rest time, the volcano hike, mountain biking around Lake Arenal, and fun at the bungee complex!
I set out this morning with a group to do some biking along the road that follows the shores of Lake Arenal, a manmade reservoir that supplies a good portion of Costa Rica with drinking water. I was remembering our family trip to Mackinaw Island where we biked around the lake-level road that circled the island. That was kind of how the tour company had described the mountain bike ride the evening before. Then the tour guide asked our van if we wanted an easy or hard route, and the younger ones in the group were all about hard. They wanted exercise! I inwardly sighed, knowing I was in for a good workout not having ridden in several years, but was happy that the mountain bikes would have many more gears to drop down into than my old road bike. Further, the van followed us as a sag wagon along the way, but I didn't plan to use it. I knew I would be last up the hills, but would take solace in that I could outrace anyone on a downhill. Ultimately, I was satisfied I only had to walk parts of two hills.
The morning was misty with the volcano and lake still shrouded in clouds. The tour guide fitted us onto to our mountain bikes with helmets and gloves, and away we went straight up the steep first hill on a pot-holed road of crushed rock and dirt. The views and scenery were lush, but we really didn't have the full benefit of a sunny day. Our guide was even able to pick out birds and animal life along the way. I even enjoyed racing some of the downhills, remembering my old biking form.
Then, it began to rain, cold and hard. We were all getting filthy from the trail and soaked. As I topped one hill and scouted a route to the bottom, I saw some of our group ahead huddled around a downed bike, with Tanya further up the road to slow traffic. Apparently, Mark had taken the downhill, which ended in a curve, too fast. He fishtailed and flipped off his bike, sustaining a nice road rash up and down the entire left side of his body. Fortunately, all his limbs were working and nothing seemed to be broken. We waited around for awhile while Mark tested out his arms and legs and the guides got the fist aid kit from the van. (Take note, Rara Avis!) Eva, Tanya, Nina and I were getting cold standing in the rain waiting, so we took off up the road, leaving Mark to be cared for by Daniel the guide, Richard the driver, Blaine, and Sid. We made it to what we thought was the end of the trail and waited for the others.
We were surprised to find Mark, though now swathed in bandages, had continued to ride. We women would have thought it wise to take some recovery time in the van, with the shock of his accident and all. The guide confirmed that this indeed was the end of our 7 miles of trail, and that we would have the choice of riding or vanning back. Being wet and cold, and I for one being tired, we chose to van back with the exception of Sid who would bike. The heat coming out of the vents of the van felt very good. The guides had water and snacks for us that we munched during the ride back to our put-in to wait for Sid. We were bemoaning the fact that we hadn't thought to bring our suits for a stop at the hot springs which we had passed on our way to the lake!
Another hot shower and some rest, and we planned to regroup for the nighttime lava hike everyone had booked. The hotel had cheap internet access that was reasonably fast, so I'd been taking a lot of time to catch up on my journal entries. It was still cloudy and misty, but we could see halfway up the volcano now, and it indeed towered right over the town. The tour company recommended that we postpone the night hike to the following evening in hopes of better viewing, so we settled on a pizza party at the hotel for Wolfie's birthday, complete with a real birthday cake Blaine had ordered and caipiriña's, my newest favorite cocktail. Read more about capiriñas, and lets plan a party when I get back! Wolfie was a lot of fun to throw a party for, by the way. He was genuinely delighted and seemed to thoroughly enjoy all the birthday attention, down to the re-lighting birthday candles!
The evening ended in another trip to the hot springs for some us, where we sampled some of pools we had missed the previous evening, including the jacuzzi and chaise lounge pools. Sigh.