This was something of a tactical error, as when I turned up to breakfast at 9.05 feeling a bit peckish I discovered that breakfast stopped at 9.
I took the opportunity to stroll around La Fortuna for a little bit while hunting down something to eat. The sky was blue, and dotted with clouds, and the volcano continued to maintain a lofty presence, the summit wreathed in drifting cloud.
It was unsettlingly hot, so I decided that staying out of the sun was a good idea, and ducked in to the nearby Rain Forest cafe for a Mono Loco -- as far as I can tell this is a double espresso with some chocolate and a fair amount of banana. Damn tasty too. That washed down a couple of slices of toast, and it was clear the staff could tell I was English, as it was only done on one side.
With that, back to the air conditioned comfort of the hotel to wait for my pickup. Today was going to start with about three hours on an ATV, exploring the area. Again, I was the last one to be collected. There were four others going on the trail, a pair of newlyweds on honeymoon, and a father and son from the UK come to explore.
The activity was put together by Fourtrax Adventures, and started with an introduction to our beasts of burden, a Honda 250cc ATV (or quad-bike if you prefer). This is mine.
They're simplicity themselves to ride, with a simple throttle on the right thumb, motorcycle style brakes on the handlebars, and automatic transmission, so we were soon on our way round the small test field.
With the test over and done with and everything verified as being in working order we headed out on to the main road, and shortly thereafter took a right on to what I can only describe as a dirt track.
I was surprised at how well the ATV handled the pot holes. I'd been expecting to come away a little bone-shaken, but the ride was fairly smooth.
The level-but-potholed terrain started to pitch and roll and the bike continued to chew through it with aplomb. The biggest problem I had was fighting the urge to put my foot down going slowly over particularly rough bits as the bike rolls a bit alarmingly.
Along the way we passed fields growing local fruit of all shapes and sizes, small houses, and crossed over a couple of narrow bridges.
I wasn't keeping too close a check on the time, but after about nine miles we came to our first destination, this broken down bridge.
The guide explained that this was the first bridge that crossed this river, and had significantly helped in connecting La Fortuna to the rest of Costa Rica. It's since been superceded by a more modern bridge futher up-river, and, as you can see, has fallen in to significant disrepair.
We mounted up and headed back the way we'd came. Actually, "mounted up" is an apt phrase, as I found that I was trying to ride the ATV like a horse at various points. Unfortunately, trying to squeeze with your thighs to make the thing go faster doesn't work so well, and just results in you cursing under your breath as you realise you've put your leg too close to the hot engine again.
About half way back the rain started to come -- spotty at first, but becoming significantly harder as we drove on. It wasn't too unpleasant, being very warm, but I'll reiterate my recommendation from the first day, namely, that synthetics dry much faster than cotton, and if I do this again I'm coming out here with a significantly different wardrobe.
Our next destination was La Fortuna waterfall, which is a breathtaking bit of scenery. Unfortunately, the rain was still falling hard, and I elected to keep the camera dry.
From there we rode on to "El Salto", or "jump", a very popular spot for a bit of swimming and Tarzan swinging. By the time we'd got there the rain had stopped, so what better time to get completely soaked?
This, I should hasten to add, is not me. But I could hardly swing and take a photo of myself at the same time.
After spending perhaps 20 minutes at El Salto we dried off and rode on to our lunch destination, Catarata Eco Lodge, for a quick meal of rice, beans, and fish. Once more the clouds opened up on us as we drove there, just as our clothes were beginning to dry off.
And then from the lodge we headed back to base, excursion over.
This was a much more relaxing event than I'd expected, with the terrain never becoming truly difficult to navigate, and plenty of opportunity for short stops as well. I had MyTracks enabled on my phone for the duration, and the route's shown below.
View Quad Biking In Costa Rica in a larger map
From there back to the hotel to shower and change, and figure out what to do until the evening's event. The heavy rain continued, and I shot a few seconds of footage with my phone.
It occurred to me that rain like this could put a severe dampener (if you'll excuse the pun) on the planned horse riding and hiking tomorrow, so, borrowing an umbrella from the hotel I struck out back in to La Fortuna to try and track down somewhere selling plastic ponchos to keep the worse of the rain off.
It turns out that every tourist place in town sells them, but these are the fairly cheap ones that look a little like someone's stuck a hood on a bin bag and poked through two holes for arms. I was looking for something a little more substantial, but it seems they're not to be found, so resigned myself to the "bin bag with a hood" look.
And then it was time for the evening's fun. This was arranged at Eco Termales, a hot springs spa about 10 minutes drive away. With four pools ranging in temperature from 35 to 40 celsius I was looking forward to a luxurious evening.
It didn't disappoint. To avoid overcrowding only 100 people are allowed per four hour session at the spa, so there was an active-but-not-crowded vibe when I arrived. I was also delighted to discover several bars next to the pools. I was a bit concerned about having to keep cash around, but was told that they work on the honour system; simply tell them how many drinks you had when you leave.
Given the effort they'd clearly gone to it seemed rude not to take advantage of the hospitality, so I quickly ordered one of these.
|"Walks in the rain", very appropriate given the day's weather.|
After about an hour and a half of relaxing, moving between the different pools and their different temperatures, and occasional queuing at the bar it was time for dinner. I'd expressed my preference for steak on arrival, and I'm pretty sure that's what I got. Not terrible, but not something to write home about. The side dishes, though, were very tasty.
And then back to the hotel, to haul the day's images off the camera's memory card, and start composing this.