After having spent over five weeks in Montezuma, we decided it was time to take in some of the rest of the Costa Rican countryside.
Before we left L.A., one of Riaz’s rugby friends suggested that if we ever got up to the Arenal area, we should check out the Gingerbread, which is run by an Israeli ex-rugger, Eyal.
Arenal is meant to be gorgeous and the Lonely Planet said the Gingerbread restaurant was the best in Costa Rica, so I was sold. Road trip to Arenal it was.
The trip did not start out very well. The rental car came on time, but the paperwork took forever so we didn’t get on the road until late morning and missed the ferry we were going to take the the “main land.”
Also, and this is going to be gross, but you must hear it so that you know what to expect if you ever live in a humid tropical climate, the car seat, when we pulled it out of the carrier we were keeping it in, was literally covered in a thick fuzz of mold. I swear that car seat was not wet when we packed it away, but when Riaz pulled it out it looked like it was wearing some kind of a coat.
A mold coat.
I spent about 45 minutes cleaning and disinfecting the thing while Riaz packed up the tiny excuse for a car that we rented (can something really be called a vehicle when it has zero trunk space?)
Once we were finally on the road we made it to the ferry pretty much without incident and the ferry ride from Paquera to Puntarenas was gorgeous (as usual).
Once in Puntarenas, we got on the road to Arenal via San Ramon. We got a little lost along the way – the roads in this area are much nicer than the ones in Montezuma but the freeways are NOT well marked at all, so it is really hard to figure out where the heck you are going.
After about an hour or so of driving, we started making a steady ascent up into the forest. This is going to sound a little weird, but parts of it actually looked a lot like the rain forests in Alaska. There were certain points where I was looking around and thinking, but for the smattering of palm trees, I could be at home. It was definitely a little strange.
As we kept going up the trees started to be obscured by the clouds and at that point we were driving through the clouds with the car being misted by a light rain. It was totally surreal and really beautiful. Aiman did really well through this patch because he was mercifully zonked out. The roads into San Ramon and from San Ramon to Arenal are well-paved but REALLY windy. Like a constant stream of s’s (ess’s?). Aiman would have lost his lunch for sure if he had been awake for it, I felt like I was going to lose it and I’m a full grown adult for crying out loud!
Once we got to San Ramon we started seeing signs pointing us to the Arenal volcano. Thankfully the signs were clear and we were quickly on our way to La Fortuna which is the main town at the base of the volcano.
We made it to Fortuna in about an hour and at that point it was starting to get dark. We were really hoping to make it to our destination (Gingerbread) before nightfall, but the missed ferry in the morning screwed up our plans. Anyway, Fortuna is a built up little town, extremely touristy, but nice enough. We didn’t spend any time there really since we were eager to get some dinner and get into bed.
We asked someone how to get to Nuevo Arenal (where Gingerbread is) and were told that we were at least an hour away. Great.
We kept going and, though we really couldn’t see it because it was so dark at that point, we drove around the volcano and then along Lake Arenal which is a huge man-made lake on the opposite side of the volcano from Fortuna.
We were about 3 minutes from our hotel when Aiman started crying and reaching out for me. I plucked him out of his car seat (no judgments please – people just don’t put there kids in car seats in this country – that he was in it for so long was a minor miracle) and started to soothe him at which point he wrapped his little arms around my neck and puked all over me – the little darling.
We pulled over and I cleaned myself up and then 2 minutes later we arrived at Gingerbread. Kid’s got awesome timing I tell you.
Geez this post got long. And boring. Sorry about that. I want to tell you all about Gingerbread, but I don’t think anyone will read a post that long and I don’t have it in me to edit this post to a manageable size so I guess we are where we are … you’re bored and didn’t get to hear about the best part of our travels … actually making it to our destination!
Check back tomorrow for a much shorter and more interesting (I promise!) post about our stay in Arenal.