Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Costa Rica - Day 14 (Jan 16, 2009)

Our last day in Costa Rica turns out to be our most strenuous adventure of the trip (at least, the most strenuous one where we all participate). Shortly after breakfast, we all pile onto the bus for a ride to Rincon de la Vieja Park nearby. We see a double rainbow along the way, the end of the prominent rainbow seems near enough to the road that we might be able to find the pot of gold. We also see a very young gaucho roping a horse (he succeeds).

From Costa Rica - Day 14

On our arrival at Rincon de la Vieja, we venture forth on a hike to view some of the geothermal features along a trail that winds around about half-way up the volcano slope. The wind is howling and it is raining as we exit the bus but once we are into the rain forest, the wind dies down and we opt to shed our rain gear in favor of remaining cool as we continue our hike. The first third of the trail is relatively easy along level ground with few obstacles in our path. We see mud pots, hot pools and fumaroles, familiar sites to those of us who have been to Yellowstone Park but made interesting by the differences in the landscape around this park's geothermal features.

We decide to continue on the trail rather than retrace our steps and this is when we encounter river crossings, up and down portions, rocks and tree roots and water hazards (real muddy spots) as we continue our hike. Some of the river crossings are quite challenging for most of us while they are easy for others. Wherever the trail becomes treacherous, Charlie arranges support as we continue our hike.

Our trickiest river crossing occurs at a spot where the original trail was recently washed out (left photo below), requiring us to either wade through hip deep water in the pond above the wash-out or find an alternate way to cross. We find a way most of the way across by walking along a rotting log (right photo below). The last part of the crossing is done over a hastily built "bridge" of rocks and tree branches made by some of the men in our group.

We are relieved to finally exit the rain forest after encountering still more obstacles (steep steps, rocks, roots) after our last river crossing. We are happy to be able to eat our box lunches on NiƱo's spotless bus while heading back to Borinquen for much needed massages (for some) or naps (for others), showers (for all) and a marvelous facial for me! This hike took longer and was harder than most of us expected so relaxation time is great.

Dinner our last night is a festive affair as most of us have agreed to dress up with some of us wearing items we purchased at Villa Lapas. It took two photos to get all of the group 'visible' to the camera and we all agreed that we'd had simply marvelous adventures and made many wonderful memories over the past two weeks.

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