Abseiling that wasn't

Yesterday I wrote:

Tomorrow I'm off to see a volcano, a wildlife refuge, a waterfall, and spend a bit of time on horseback...

Unfortunately, that's not quite how the day turned out.

Package Costa Rica had arranged the transport to the next hotel, Hotel Fortuna in La Fortuna. An 8.20 pickup gave me a little extra time in the morning, and being the last to be collected meant I got the "shotgun" seat.

The three hour journey was broken up by a 15 minute rest stop, which gave me the opportunity to see a bit of nature in action. The light was quite strange -- bright, some sun, but the presence of thunderclouds off in the distance gave it a slightly forbidding air.

You've probably seen nature documentaries showing ants parading to and from some distant location back to their nest, carrying leaves three or four times they size. It's impressive on TV, it's bizarre to see the real thing. Two almost parallel lines of ants marching with purpose, one towards the nest, one away from it.

The rest of the journey passed fairly uneventfully, as we headed north west to La Fortuna. I'm getting the distinct impression that every square inch of Costa Rica that isn't paved or built on has something green growing on it. And speaking of paving, the potholes in some of the roads here would give the 101 in California a run for its money, our driver today performing the occasional practiced slalom maneuver.

I arrived at the hotel at 11.30, whereupon the first problem become apparent -- guest rooms aren't available for checkin until 2pm. This was a little concerning; my pickup for later in the day was supposed to be at 1.20, and I needed to spend some time changing, and applying considerably more sunscreen than I had the previous day.

The hotel pulled out the stops, and got the room prepared in time. So, +1 for them.

I was, however, a bit surprised to get a knock on the door at 1.05 saying the transport for the afternoon's event was waiting. 15 minutes early. I finished getting ready ASAP, and headed downstairs, where I was intercepted by the chap at the front desk saying there was a phone call from me.

It was from Mike, own of the Package Costa Rica folks, explaining that their supplier had let them down, and they'd rebooked something somewhat equivalent at short notice. Hence the minibus outside earlier than planned.

Fair enough.

We drove for 5 minutes or so, and I chatted to the two other couples taking the same course. We were going to be abseiling, much as had already been planned.

Or so I thought.

We transferred to a 4x4 vehicle for a 10 minute bumpy ride up to base camp. There it became apparent that this was going to be a "wet" abseil, including jumping in to deep pools. This was problematic; I was wearing boots for dry conditions (and for the horse riding I was expecting), and needed these boots to stay dry for the ATV course tomorrow.

Talking to the instructors it sounded like the worst of it would be at the third of four abseiling trails, where ending up in the splash pool at the end is pretty much mandatory. I figured I could just skip that one, and move on to the fourth as the time came, which was by far the longest of the four.

So we drove on up on to the first short abseil. Well, incline descent really, nowhere that was really vertical, but with a large stream and plunge pool at the bottom. Going last, I'd paid attention to where the others had put their feet, and tried to figure out a route down that was going to keep my boots dry enough for the next day, but it soon became clear that although that was just about do-able for this descent (just barely) it wasn't going to be practical for the next two.

So, with some regret I had to call it a day, and walked the 20 minutes or so back to the camp for the journey back to La Fortuna.

I wrote this up for the Package Costa Rica folks, and sent them an e-mail, and demonstrating excellent customer service they've already offered to refund the cost of today, or arrange another excursion to replace it. I need to look over the schedule to see where there's a gap I can fill, but I'm very pleased with how they've responded so far.

Back at the hotel the local volcano was looming majestically over the scene, and as the clouds cleared the smoke emanating from the crater was clearly visible, and quite an awesome sight. The perfect backdrop for a G+T and some time spent writing postcards.

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