The next leg of our journey was spent near the town of La Fortuna, and at the base of Arenal volcano. Now, you may question the judgment of the person who decided to build a whole town right beneath an active volcano—I certainly did. But when they’re not spewing molten rocks and drowning villagers in burning hot magma, volcanos actually make pretty good neighbors. They’re attractive, volcanic soil is great for agriculture and all of the geothermal activity means that natural hot springs abound! Not to mention if you’re going to make a virgin sacrifice, it’s way more convenient to have the volcano right next door instead of trekking through the wilderness before you can appease the gods.

While I really can’t pick a favorite part of our adventure, our time in near Arenal was definitely the most “Costa Rica-y.” We went on breathtaking hikes up mountains and through rainforests. We swam in lagoons and relaxed in hot springs in the middle of the jungle. We saw color-changing rivers, and poison dart frogs, and trees you could drive a bus under. It rained every day, but we didn't mind at all.  

I've been lucky enough to travel quite a bit in my life thus far, but up to this point I had only ever been to the  "urban jungles" of Europe and the Middle East. I love wandering the streets that are pieces of my personal patrimony, but I felt rather appropriate there in the forest. And I have a feeling that this is going to be the first of many more wild adventures.

more pictures of our trip here!
Ox carts used to be so fancy!

little did I know we were about to ford that river!

Feeling pretty cool...

Two minutes later: 1) Water has changed from blue to brown, 2) the waterfall had tripled in size, 3) the rock island from the picture above had vanished. Our guide to Premal "We wait 30-second more, and you don't make it!"

close enough to touch...

I don't mean to brag, but we hiked to a natural hot tub in the middle of a river, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RAINFOREST.

The photo on the left is from a a place where sulfur is leached into the water from a fissure in the riverbed, turning to water from green to vibrant blue midstream. So. Cool.

After three days of hiking we thought we deserved a massage....