A part of our team was invited to Arenal last weekend by our long-term partner agency "Eco Terra Costa Rica" for a "Fam-Trip Adventure Tour". On this trip we had the opportunity to get to know different tours and hotels in this beautiful region of the country.
On the second day, three interesting tours were on the program, which is why the alarm clock early in the morning already rang. After breakfast, consisting of a typical Gallo Pinto and a delicious café, we drove in our minibus to the first stop of today's discovery tour, a privately owned sloth sanctuary owned by a Costa Rican family.
In this rainforest some three-toed sloth animals had settled independently some time ago. They have ten-centimeter-long claws and a slowed metabolism, which allows them to feed on the relatively nutrient-poor leaves. After a few minutes we quickly realized that they are also excellent masters of camouflage and well hidden in the green canopy. And so they remained invisible to our eyes at first. Once big cats or snakes discover the sluggish creatures, sloths know how to defend themselves well with their long claws and strong arms. Therefore man-made forest clearings are the greatest danger, because they do not escape them.
Once again it was up to our guides to see four animals at the end of the trail.
Back in the air-conditioned bus we left the reserve and rolled the gravel road back to the highway. A view out the window showed cultivated fields with dark, fertile volcanic soil, grasslands extending over the hilly landscape, forest areas, and a few farms. To get to know such a farm and the people living there was next on the program. How is a cow milked? How sugar cane pressed in the traditional way, Yuca harvested or home- brewed liquor won in the in-house distillery? For all these questions, we received an answer during the "Campesino Experience".
As the family showed us over the farm, I lost all sense of time. And I began to wonder how it feels to grow up here and spend life with doing physical labor? Are the people here, despite or even because of the physically demanding work, more balanced and relaxed than, for example, the people in hectic San José? Are not the advantages or disadvantages of being in the maelstrom of urbanization in much of the world? In three hours I could find no answer to that and certainly three years would not be enough. However, this farm is a showcase in an exciting parallel world, which is as far away from mine as Costa Rica of Germany.
After a lunch made from freshly harvested ingredients completed the experience, we brought our luggage to the second accommodation. The Casa Luna Hotel works similar to the Eco Lodge very sustainable, provides itself in addition to solar energy and grows the herbs for the restaurant in their own garden. For dinner, a tasting of the newly created summer menu was planned. But before that happened, we drove to the lake Arenal, to complete our daily program.
From the presenter of the former German game show "One will win", Hans-Joachim Kuhlenkampff gets the quote: "And as you see, you see nothing". Kuhlenkampff said this as the lighting failed during a show and could not be repaired even after several attempts. Likewise, this quote could have come from our guides, when we reached a lookout point where instead of the volcano Arenal we got to see a cloud wall.
But I did not want to accept that my luck should have left me yet. Because so far, every famous mountain or volcano I visited was only a matter of time until the clouds cleared and exposed the view to the top, at least for a few minutes. And there was hope, because at least from the lower part of the volcanic flank became more and more visible.
Slowly, however, it was time to descend from the viewing platform, because at the footbridge a few meters away, a boat was already waiting to take us out to the lake.
When everyone was on the boat, we took off and admired the scenery of the cloud-covered mountains from the water. And then it actually happened. As if nature had been waiting for the perfect time, the cloud wall cleared, the volcano appeared and my luck had not left me.
Moments later, the spell was over. The wind freshened and the clouds enveloped the Arenal again until it was completely gone. We really could not have planned better. Slowly the dusk set in and we went on the way back to the hotel. There we had some time until dinner to let the eventful day end in the whirlpools.
At seven o'clock we gathered in the restaurant and waited anxiously for the dinner. There Alfonso already played music and the tables were put together to a long board. In the next two hours we were served a delicious menu, of which I especially remember the delicately prepared fish from their own breeding. A little later everyone fell into their beds, full and happy.
The next day a short hike to Laguna “La Hule” completes a great trip. On a winding road we reached the small hut of a family in the mountains between La Fortuna and San José. From there a path led through beautiful rainforest down to a lookout point with a fantastic panorama. Normally the hike would now go on and down into a densely wooded forest where the more adventurous part of the hike starts, but it was time for us to return to the lodge and enjoy the lunch the family had prepared for us in the meantime and then drive back to San José.
That brought us to the end of our trip. It had been three very varied days, with many unique experiences, which each of us will remember for a long time.
Many thanks to the entire Ecoterra team.
Written by Piet Kroll. CRS Tours 2018