Thursday, June 17, 2010

Horses, lava and soda

On Wednesday, we planned to go horseback riding. Luckily, the stable and surrounding area weren't affected by the storm, so a plaid-shirted man picked us up from the hotel in a 1980s Mitsubushi truck with a handbrake and drove us a half an hour to a rural town where we were joined by two older couples and a guide for the tour.

Dan rode a gray horse named Moscado. We never found out the name of my horse so Dan and I named her Brownie. I tried to talk to Brownie but she kind of ignored me and used every free moment we stopped to eat grass. We would alternate between walking and trotting and Brownie always wanted to go faster than all the other horses and liked run whenever we were going downhill or through streams, making a big splash. Sometimes I was scared I would lose my balance, but Brownie didn't let me down. The area we rode had the most beautiful, picture-perfect scenery: lush forests and rushing rivers and long water falls and pretty mountains. But I spent most of the time looking at the top of Brownie's head. We stopped to go swimming under a waterfall which was cool and refreshing.

It seems like no one here in Costa Rica really cares all that much about weather because even though the sky was getting darker and darker, our guide didn't hurry us or anything. So when it started raining buckets, we had no choice but to tread forward. From my experience, I can tell you that horseback riding in the rain is not as fun as horseback riding in the sun. By the time we were done, you could wring out water from our clothes. For the second day in a row, Dan and I got soaked.

The weather definitely limited us. We had imagined that most of our time in Manuel Antonio would be spent lounging on the beach, but in reality, we only had about a half an hour of beach time the entire trip. We weren't super eager to explore the area in the rain so that night instead of going out we ate dinner at our hotel restaurant, which was covered with a tarp and had its kitchen running with generators. It sounds like a bummer, but it really wasn't. Perhaps on some other trip, we would have minded, but we were so happy to be on our honeymoon and to relax and to enjoy each other that we didn't let it bother us.

First they matched Dan and Brownie together, but Brownie was too small for big Dan.

Dan rides Moscado. BTW: It is really hard to take pictures when you are on a horse!

Lovebirds by the waterfall.

The next day we got a rental SUV (with a stick shift, which made Dan very happy!) and drove from Manuel Antonio to Arenal. Driving in Costa Rica reminded me a lot of driving in Poland. There is no direct way to get anywhere, so most of the time you are on these two lane roads winding through mountains and seashores and small little towns. I had the idea in my head that the trip would take 3 hours, but it was more like 6. It didn't really matter. It was a nice ride. It's kind of a shame I didn't make Dan stop driving to take some pictures because I saw so many great things. Green grass and misty mountainsides. Black and white cows grazing atop on a green hill. Schoolchildren in uniform running down the street. A child wearing a homemade paper mask. Vendors in tiny fruit stands selling mangoes and plantains.

We stopped for lunch at a roadside “soda” where we had the standard fare in Costa Rica: a huge plate of rice and beans, chicken, plantains and veg for $4. The food in Costa Rica is kind of bland yet filling and tasty like a homemade meal. The atmosphere of these sodas were relaxed and open-air and the people working there were always so nice and friendly. I have to say that eating at these places beat any of the “fancy” expensive meals that we have had on our trip (which was basically not-so-amazing American and Mexican food).

We checked into our new hotel that had the perfect vantage point of the Arenal volcano. It's an active volcano which rumbles throughout the day and if you are lucky to be there on a clear night, you can see the lava spew from the top! The hotel said that they'd call us if there is no volcanic activity before 11pm and it acts up in the middle of the night, but when we settled down for bed, I could not shut my eyes. I kept staring, waiting for something to happen. Then I thought I saw the sky change color, almost like lightening, so I woke Dan up.

"Dan, something's happening!" I said. He sat up, put on his glasses and there was nothing there but black sky. False alarm. We went back to sleep. Well Dan went back to sleep. A few minutes later, I saw red. "Dan!" Dan!" We both got up in time to see the volcano spit some red volcanic rock into the sky which trickled down the side. We had planned to take pictures and video and all that, but it was over and done with in a minute. I fell asleep after that moment, happy to have seen the lava. Good thing I was so alert. It was the only clear, lava filled night of our trip.

The volcano!


Annette said...


Peter said...

Don't forget the awesome helmet:)