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Day Three - The Wetlands and Volcano at Night

Serving Up Some Sugar Cane

Morning comes very early in Costa Rica, particularly at the Cataratas Resort. When you're essentially sharing your room with the critters of the rain forest, the early morning activity is a lot to sleep through. Plus, the sun comes up about 5:30AM or so and shines through the walls, leaving little choice but to get up and get going.

The timing was prefect for this day, though, as I had arranged to take a wetlands tour at the Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge. A bus came to pick me up at 7:15AM and we were on our way northwest of La Fortuna, right up to the border of Nicaragua. You soon learn that in Costa Rica, everything is 2-4 hours away or more, regardless of distance. Many of the roads are not only dirt, but full of ruts and holes and driving is very, very slow.

The guides were very entertaining and they stopped a cut fresh pineapple and later sugar cane for us to sample. After about 2.5 hours, we arrived at the refuge. We had a snack consisting of Gallo Pinto (rice and beans) -- a staple of all meals in Costa Rica -- with tortillas and papaya juice. I met some people from North Carolina and surrounding states and chatted with them a bit. I also met a nice group of Canadians who I had shared the initial ride with.

Properly refreshed, we boarded a boat and set forth into the wetlands. There were many animals, including monkey, caimans, crocodiles, turtles, and many varieties of birds and lizards. The tour lasted about 3 hours and was very enjoyable.

American Anhinga
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Great White Egret
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After the long, bumpy ride back to the hotel, I called for a taxi and went into la Fortuna for dinner. As it began getting dark, I negotiated a ride over to the west side of the volcano for another view of the eruptions at night. It was very cloudy, but I did manage to get one decent shot and enjoyed the activity for about an hour before heading back.

Arenal Volcano on a Cloudy Night
(Click to Enlarge)

Back in La Fortuna, I found a grocery store and bought some supplies, including Pilsen, another Costa Rican beer -- not as good as Imperial -- then sought out the same driver to return me to the hotel.

Several of the of the television stations in Costa Rica broadcast in English, but with Spanish subtitles. I found it a little distracting as I would try to read the subtitles, even though I could understand the words. Also the news stations like CNN and Fox broadcast without any advertisements. They fill the gaps with little human interest tidbits. I finally settled on some highlights from the 2006 World Cup on HBO.

Day Four

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