Written by Ron, our man in Costa Rica
After a couple of hectic days based in San Jose featuring white-water rafting, jungle bashing and fast city living, we were facing up to the possibility of having to stay awake until the early hours to get the best view of Volcan Arenal doing its thing.
This was the preparation: various combinations of the group ventured forth into the city to taste the local cuisine with a plan to meet at a local bar later for drinks. For some it became evident that when ordering from a menu something gets lost in the translation. Sopa de vegetales conjoured up images of fresh vegetable soup but turned out to be a few cabbage leaves with hot water poured over them.
Undeterred, and having fully lined their stomachs with soggy cabbage, we set off for the trendy El Pueblo, which is a collection of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops not far from the city centre. El Pueblo had been recommended to us by the rafting guide and Jo and Caroline had forced themselves to go and check it out the night before (for the good of the whole group), although the fact that the rafting guide was to have been there may have had something to do with their philanthropic attitude.
Soon the protection of the cabbage wore off and many of the group took to the garden and began an international dance-fest of their own. Sort of Riverdance meets Zorba the Greek without coreography.
Some cervezas later we headed for a nightclub where Lea, JoJo, Marianne and Elisabeth cleared the dancefloor with a sort of salsa twist. Catrin was checking out the local culture, Bill was looking confused and Yuko was looking for Bill.
At the end of the night we all got taxis safely back to the hotel and our preparation for the volcano was complete.
The next morning the memories of the previous night’s excesses were clouded and shrouded in mist and hangovers intact, we left San Jose for Volcan Arenal through pretty countryside. For those awake, we were amazed to see the PopeMobile, escourted by police and Hells Angels on motorcycles (this was not our imagination, it has since been confirmed as true).
Anyway, thus blessed we approached the volcano. As we did, the sky cleared giving us perfect views. Super-impressive. Huge plume of smoke rising out of the top, smoke oozing out of the vents on the side, and to top it all off, just as we were setting up camp at the volcano base, huge rumbles and explosions and magma streaming down the side.
As it got dark, the weather got the better of us, and we lost the view. For the second time in 24 hours things were clouded and shrouded in mist.