tENT cITY dos...
Back in the land of Bob Marley and backpackers i thought with the free internet facility at the Tranquilo backpacker hostel in San Jose i should write a few lines about the past couple of weeks, if you have the time for reading.............
......this is the first proper bed we have had for a couple of weeks and it is in the capital of Costa Rica in a nice hostel if a little pricey compared to what we have been used to lately, its $22 per night compared to the $4 we have been paying to camp out at Tilawa and the same at the base of Volcan Arenal....its also the first city we have properly been in for a couple of months so there is a bit of culture shock thrown in.
Since we left Tamarindo we stayed a night in Liberia again and hearing of a mysterious concrete skatepark and their annual contest we headed in that direction with the added draw of an active volcano. The buses in Cost Rica seem to take a huge amount of time to cover pretty short distances but we soon found out why....when you get off the main Pan Americana highway a lot of the roads are unpaved and rocky with huge potholes so the bus either bounces along at walking pace or if going downhill bounces along at crazy breakneck speed, it also stops everywhere there is someone waiting or anywhere the driver knows someone and wants a chat which also seems to be everywhere....we had to change a couple of times and the journey took 2 days from Tamarindo via Liberia again for another night and then on to Canas then Tilaran and on to Nuevo Arenal(new because the old one was under lake arenal, flooded to build the lake years ago). A night in Nuevo Arenal and then another bus onward to La Fortuna which is just by the volcano, we thought this would be the ideal place to check out the lava flowing!!
We found a cool hostel with a kind of view of the volcano through some trees, got some supplies and decided to wait for the action, it was pretty cloudy over the volcano but we were hopeful, the cloud lifted a bit for a view of the cone and then came down again in the evening.....we found out later that all the visible activity was on the farside of the volcano and even if there was no cloud, short of a full eruption we would see nothing from there. La Fortuna is full of hotels, tour companies and expensive volcano related resorts so we decided to get out of there the next day and find the real raw volcano experience we were looking for......that night we hooked up with some friendly Americans at the hostel and drank a lot of beer and wine, all 6 of them it turned out were in bands:one was in the Grabass Charlestons and another had filled in for his friend in Gunmoll a couple of times, a cool night but no volcano action...we were tired and drunk so we hit the hay..Replay Davewas heading back to Florida the next day so he headed off to the volcano in a taxi with a crate of beer to see what was happening as we headed to bed saving ourselves for camping under the cone the next day.
An early hazy start saw us heading over to the highway with our big packs and started to hitch the 15k to where we thought the campsite was, a couple of hours and two rides later and we were at the beginning of a dusty track out to the campsite, another two km walk along the road and we pitched our tent in the shadow of the volcano. We immediately lit a campfire even though it was still early afternoon and cooked our foil covered potatoes for lunch while the volcano was still shrouded in cloud. Because of how close we actually were we could hear the hissing and crashing of the lava and the huge rocks rolling from the top to the bottom of the volcano, so we set down to wait for nightfall and hoped for a clear sky.
It wasn't until after our second helping of baked potato and half our litre box of wine at around 9pm that the cloud retreated a bit and we saw the first glow of lava flowing down the mountain, it was amazing and awesome and unbeleivable....it was the first of so many sightings as the clouds fully dispersed and the whole volcano appeared. The volcano has its own weather system and the clouds are often there despite the rest of the sky being clear and starry.Huge glowing rocks were bouncing down the steep slope and clearing a full half of the mountainside which is amazing in itself as the other volcano we climbed in Nicaragua took 4 hours to get up and it was smaller but these rocks were rolling down in 30 seconds......luckily we were relatively safe at our distance but the crashing of the rocks through the trees at the bottom reminded me how destructive this thing actually was. Hoping the thing didn't actually blow it's top we went to sleep but set the alarm for 3.30 incase there was more to see, needless to say i turned it off straight away and went back to sleep till the sun came up at 5.30.....it was still clear and still kicking out rocks but the glow had gone as the light got stronger. It was still an awesome sight though as it was clear and we could see all the smoke the lava produced. We sat there staring at it for a couple of hours and then packed up camp and headed back to the road for the 8.30am bus to Tilaran......
The bus was slow and bouncey but the bus guy was selling plastic bags of drinks and plantain chips which kept us going for the 2 hour journey around the lake........ then before we knew it we were in Tilaran....an amazing vegetable chop suey lunch and a couple of beers later and we were back on the same bus back to Hotel Tilawa and the dream skatepark a day early for the contest but with a plan to splash out and stay the night at the plush hotel and freshen up for the night........the hotel is perched above the lake and comes with swimming pool, hot spring, tennis court, kite boarding and of course concrete bowls!!!!!! The plan was dashed by a very rude receptionist informing us that the rooms were no longer $38 a night and they only had 2 $70 rooms left which he decided was too much for 2 smelly backpackers and we left a bit pissed off with the attitude and thinking out a new plan, deciding to take a look at the park before we left in search of cheaper and friendly accomodation............the park was on top of a hill back from the trail and we lugged ourselves and our heavy bags up there.......it was amazing, perfect white concrete with a huge 9ft pool style bowl, hipped into a shallower section which hipped into another bowled section with two levels and a pool coping Taco section which had a sort of oval escalator bit.....next to this was a driveway with rails and ledges, a jump box and facing flatbank with a transitioned rollin at the other end.....stuff everywhere...next to that was a 5 ft bowl with tombstones at either end and a channel leading through to a steep wallride with 6 ft of vert and coping on top.....all concret, all perfectly poured with no cracks and right there in a field, free for all to skate!!!!! It turned out we could camp there for $2 each a night so we set up camp and stayed for 6 nights!!!!!
Posted by Jono
on April 25, 2005 12:44 AM
Category: Costa Rica