So today I was moving on from Montaverde to La Fortuna, which is over the mountains and in the shadows of the Arenal Volcano. Now instead of driving to La Fortuna on the less than stellar roads, I was doing the “taxi-boat-taxi” trip. I was taking a taxi van from Montaverde to Lake Arenal then hopping aboard a boat to cross Lake Arenal and then onto a bus that would take me from the Lake Arenal to La Fortuna. The first part of the trip would take about 1 ½ hours on a horrible mountian road (so I was told). The boat across Lake Arenal takes about 45 minutes and then the trip into La Fortuna takes about 25 minutes depending on where you are on the dropoff route.
I had an early breakfast and managed to take some more pictures of the beautiful place that is Hidden Canopy Treehouse Hotel, wandered through the hummingbird garden one more time (how can you not love a place that has a hummingbird garden), said goodbye to the fabulous proprietor Jenn and then was ensconced in the front seat of a van on the way to Lake Arenal. My seatmates were all 20 somethings with 3 from France and 2 from Britain. Unfortunately the two Brits spoke French so the entire 1 ½ hours was punctuated by very loud (bordering on yelling) in French. C’est la vie.
The ride to Lake Arenal was everything it was billed to be. A very narrow, windy, hilly road through coffee farms, cattle farms, and wind farms punctuated by massive pot holes, gravel patches and the occasional traffic stop where the road was being repaired. Despite the crappy road, I found the short 1 ½ hour trip quite enjoyable. The scenery was rather pretty, the little towns we passed through were quaint and it was nice to see a bit of the countryside.
Once we reached Arenal Lake, we grabbed our luggage and hiked down to the lakeside to await our pontoon boat that would take us to the other side. The winds weren’t quite as strong here at they were in Montaverde, but nevertheless, there were some small whitecaps on the lake so I was anticipating a bit of a rocky ride.
About ten minutes into our wait, the pontoon boat arrived and after the passengers coming from La Fortuna disembarked, everyone from my van as well as a number of others climbed aboard the pontoon boat while the captain’s young son helped people with their luggage. I found a seat mid boat, plunked myself down and was soon motoring off across the lake.
Now the view from the lake towards the Arenal Volcano was simply spectacular. And today was one of these rare days when there were no clouds shrouding the top of the volcano (at least at this point) so the view was extra special.
As we bobbed across the lake, I kept my eye out for wildlife, but only spotted the odd white heron. I kept trying to spot fish in the water, but there was too much wave action to see anything and the water was actually quite murky.
Now most of the people on the boat were fixated on the Arenal Volcano. As we continued across the lake, the volcano was front and center, and people would periodically get up and go to the front of the boat to take an unobstructed picture of the volcano. However, the volcano now had some cloud cover so the view was not nearly as good as it was when we were standing waterside waiting for the boat to arrive.
By around 11:30 we were pulling into the dock area. Now I don’t know what I was expecting, but this was not it. There were two large buses at the dock to ferry folks into La Fortuna and it was mass confusion. It appeared that the folks were being divided up depending upon the location of their hotel. The first fellow who approached me spoke no English and when I told him my hotel, he gave me a blank look. A second fellow then approached and after I said the name of my hotel, nodded and pointed to the second bus. So I dragged my suitcase over to the second bus and the bus driver gave me a blank look when I told him the name of my hotel. (To be fair, the hotel is on the newish side.)
Anyway, I kept repeating Noah’s Forest, Noah’s Forest. I finally added, Noah’s Forest by Tifakara (not to be confused with the sister hotel – just plain old Tifakara). The lightbulb went on for the driver when I said the full name and he motioned for me to climb over a large box into the front seat while he threw (literally threw) my suitcase onto the pile in the back. Now I was not convinced this guy actually knew where my hotel was. I was pretty sure he was going to take me to Tifakara and not Noah’s Forest by Tifikara. I explained my concern to a young woman who translated for me and the know it all bus driver just waived her off.
So we set off on the short trip to La Fortuna, passing hot springs, resorts and numerous signs for hiking, zip lining and on and on. We reached La Fortuna around 12:15 and began the very slow process of dropping off folks at their various hostels and hotels. Eventually, there were three of us left on the bus (me, the young woman who translated and her mother). The driver then pointed at me meaning I was next and then stated up, up, up. I took this to mean we were going up into the hills, which is exactly where my hotel was not. The original Tifikara is in the hills and my hotel was about a kilometer from the town center. I shook my head, but this stubborn know it all refused to listen. So off we set for Tifikara and ten minutes later a lady at the front desk was explaining to him that he had the wrong hotel. Good grief.
We reversed course, dropped off the young gal and her mother and then drove back through town, down a little road and viola … Noah’s Forest by Tifikara. It had only taken an extra half hour. Anyway, Mr. Helpful sat on his duff as I dragged my luggage from the back of the bus and out the front door. NO TIP FOR YOU JACKASS.
Thankfully, there was a young man standing by who rushed over to help me with my luggage as I climbed down the stairs. I was soon checked in, but told my room was not yet ready. In the mean time, one of the gals at the checkin asked me if I wanted to go have a look at sloth and its baby hanging in the trees above the restaurant entrance. Seriously?? Uh yes, please.
And while the sloth and baby were upside down high up in the tree, it was nevertheless massively cool to check them out.
At this point, I was told it would likely be an hour or so before I could go to my little bungalow so I ended up taking a taxi back into town and wandered around the endless shops and restaurants, grabbed a quick bite to eat and then took a cab back around 3.
It had been a long day and all I wanted to do was shower and take a nap. Tomorrow I am off for an all day boat trip on the Cano Negro. Can’t wait!