It rained all night. Hard pounding rain. This morning the volcano is still completely shrouded in clouds. We never get to see it, darn it. The whole reason we made a one-night stopover in Arenal is because I wanted to see the volcano!
We do get a few good looks at
Lake Arenal, which is beautiful. The view from our cabin would be
gorgeous if we could see much of anything through the mist. There is a
great little deck off the cabin that looks out at the lake and the
volcano. It's still a really nice place to sit and the kids love playing
on the deck and the little lawn surrounding the cabin.
night was so humid and cool that all our clothes are still wet. We
eventually dress in wet clothes because at least they're clean. When we
drove up to the breakfast room, a dog blocked our path. Not at all
unusual...there are dogs everywhere in Costa Rica; both strays and pets.
You can rarely eat a meal at a soda (since most are open air) without a
dog hanging around. This dog blocked our path into the parking area. He
sat in the road with his back to us and wouldn't budge. I finally got
out of the car and walked up to the dog and clapped to scare him out of
the path. He startled and moved. As he moved to the side of the road, a
gardener from the hotel came around the corner and mentioned "that dog,
he don't hear very good" explaining why the dog hadn't moved when we
approached. Ticos love dogs and would not chase him off or get rid of
him for a little thing like deafness. They love cats even more - no
wonder Aaron identified so readily! And cats are never left to be stray;
they are very well-protected pets.
Ticos love kids even
more. One if the things I love most about Costa Rica is how excited
everyone is to see children. In the U.S. walking into a restaurant with
4 kids means you see the hostess barely concealing her irritation and
trying to figure out where to put us to bother people the least. And
always the comments about how 4 kids is so many (implied, too many). In
Costa Rica, entering anywhere with the kids results in cries of
"ninos!!" "Oh so beautiful bebes!" "So lucky with your big family!"
"Hola, papi y mami."
They're genuinely thrilled too see
the kids and love them. They hug and kiss the children when we arrive or
leave. Waitresses will pause to drop a kiss on top of one of the kids'
heads as they pass by. It is awesome. Everyone here is so friendly
already, and even more so to the kids.
Breakfast from the
hotel restaurant is lovely. Toast and fresh preserves, fresh fruit that
they plate and bring it to you - and by fresh,I mean it was probably
picked this morning from the gardens behind the kitchen - and tipico
Tico. The cheese was better than usual today.
Aaron and Rylen took a short
drive while the other kids ran wild at the cabin It was nice to have a
small yard and nice patio for the kids to play. On Aaron's drive they
saw a tree that had fallen overnight and the huge trunk was blocking the
road. Road crews are diligent in Costa Rica. We have always seen them out first
thing in the morning taking care of problems that came up overnight,
like digging out ditches that have gotten blocked with debris, clearing
small falls of rocks, mud, and plants, or out with machetes, weed
whackers, and chainsaws clearing larger obstacles. Someone had taken
care of the downed tree by cutting out a large section of the trunk...
one lane wide for the two lane road, of course.
When they tried to come
back to the cabin the road at the bottom of the hill was blocked by the
gardener and his deaf dog. Aaron caught the dog's attention once and got him to move partially out of the way. The gardener then made the dog move the rest of the way. Before Aaron could drive forward - as soon as
the gardener turned his back - the dog laid down in the road again.
Apparently Rylen was done accommodating the dog at this point, since
he cheerfully told Aaron "I guess we have run him over!" (They did
We got everything packed up and got on the road again. This was
just a one night stop on our way to the other side of the country. I had
really hoped to get a good view of the volcano, but it had been so
rainy and clouded the entire time that we never saw more than the lower
slopes. Stopped for lunch at Soda Viquez. They remembered us from last
night and greeted the children with cheek kisses and big smiles.
Arrived at our hotel in late afternoon. It took some doing to find it;
it is very secluded and tucked away behind hedges and gates. When we got
there the gates were closed and I rang the bell. Annette and Sebastian
came running out to open the gates and welcome us. Sebastian opened the
gates and lifted some vines that were in danger of catching on the
luggage rack on our rental. Sebastian even helped carry luggage to the
cabin. To make our stay easier, Sebastien trimmed back the vines first
thing the next morning.
They gave us a short tour... there's is a comfy
lounge area...The only place to get Wi-Fi. Off the lounge area is the
dining room attached to a very nice modern outdoor (mostly) kitchen.
Annette and Sebastian have a nice two story section with a big deck as
their private living quarters. There are gorgeous gardens all around
with huge plants and beautiful flowers and statuary. Even a koi pond.
All on the banks of Rio Blanco, a very picturesque river. Our cabin is
along a gravel path through the gardens, located right next to the
river. Unfortunately the swimming area we were hoping to play in had
been destroyed by a recent storm.
Our cabin is rustic but lovely and
well constructed. There is a decent size main room which has a huge king
bed, a single bed, and a set of bunk beds. There's a small bathroom
with a toilet (no flushing tissue, of course), a heating element
shower that makes you worry just a little about electrocution but it's
quite a nice shower overall, and a little sink and mirror with resident
gecko. It is all decorated nicely and appropriately for the style of the
cabin. The beds are quite comfy - probably the best we've had on this
trip. There's a really nice deck with bench and chairs where you can sit
outside and enjoy your surroundings.
There's no a.c., so in the
afternoon it's really warm and humid. It would be nice to have a.c.
at that time. But the many screened windows and the ceiling fan are
quite effective during the night and it's cool and comfortable shortly
after dark. And honestly, if there had been a.c. available, we would
have had it turned on and the windows closed and we would have missed
really experiencing the rainforest around us. With the cabin open to the
outside as it is, you can hear the river roaring outside and the sound
of birds, frogs and insects all around you.
When the rain comes it
pounds madly on the tin roof and it's so cozy to lay in the comfy bed in
the dark and listen to the rain and river and jungle noises. So in the
end, the only thing I'd really change is the Wi-Fi access, which is
available only in the lounge area.
While Aaron and I were finishing up
check in with Annette and enjoying some ice water in the lounge,
Sebastien took the kids to the gardens to pay ball with the dog - nice
guy! After settling in, we went out to find some dinner. Because it's
dark so early, it feels like it's super late when we leave, even though
it's barely 7 pm. Sebastian lets us out the gates, lifting the trailing
vines again. He cheerfully waved us on our way, letting us know that we
should just honk when we return so he could come open the gates again.
(Although we occasionally felt bad about calling them away from whatever
they were doing and tried to minimize our ins and outs, they never gave
the impression that it was a trouble or inconvenience.)
We tried to go
into Guapiles to find dinner, but misunderstood the directions from
Annette and got a little lost. We wandered around Guapiles for a while
before finding our way back out to the highway and toward our hotel. We
ended up at a restaurant only meters from the turnoff to the
hotel. It was very tasty, though. We got back around 9 pm and honked as
instructed (even though it felt rude) and Sebastian came out to admit
us. He and Annette were relieved to see us, since they'd worried about
us out on our own at night, but felt better when reminded that 1- we'd been
in the country for a couple of weeks already and were used to getting around
on our own, and 2- Aaron was a former resident and even familiar with
Back to the cabin and into bed before the rain started.
The path was very dark, so Sebastian walked us back to the cabin with