Preface: I’m so sorry for this week! I have no excuse for myself. For those checking in on my mom’s trip, she’s here! We’re having a great time. I’ll update the blog about her trip soon!
I have got to be the worst road trip re-capper in the history of the world. We’ve been back from Arenal for almost a month and I’ve only gotten through the drive there and the first three days, I need help.
Moving on. While at Gingerbread, Eyal (the chef/owner) raved about a place called Rancho Margot, that was near the base of the volcano and just off Lake Arenal. It’s a sustainable farm/hotel that he said we needed to see to believe. I almost always trust the recommendations of people who actually live in the place we are visiting, so we were off to the Rancho.
As per usual when driving on Costa Rican roads, Aiman gave us a number of vomit-related scares, but we stopped every time he started to look a little green and drove really slow and were able to avoid any car sickness episodes.
We got to the Rancho around mid-day and though we could see a sign for reception, we couldn’t really see any place where people might, you know, sleep. Aiman had fallen asleep at that point so I sent Riaz in to sort things out. He arranged our bungalow and we were told that lunch was being served so we should eat then they would take us up to our room.
Lunch was delicious. In fact, all the food we ate there was fantastic. Most of the food comes directly from the farm, they make their own yogurt, the milk was fresh from the cow and there was lots of yummy fruits and veggies to snack on. Everything was served buffet style, so you sort of had to eat what they gave you, but it was all wonderful so it really made no difference.
After lunch, we were driven up to our bungalow in a little electric powered go-kart thing. One of the coolest things about this place was that you could be 10 feet from a bungalow and not really even know it was there. The roofs were all covered in vegetation and they were just built into the hillside so you just could not see them at all. Very cool.
The bungalows were basic, but very nice.
On the second day we went on a tour of the farm. The tour was super interesting, but we shared it with 5 of the most annoying people on the planet who had questions about literally every single plant on the farm so the 1.5 hour tour ended up taking closer to 2.5, which Aiman would not tolerate, so we missed the last half of the tour. Lame.
Anyway, this is a shot of a small portion of the Rancho from near our bungalow. The owner of the Rancho (Juan) bought the land about 6 years ago. When he bought it the whole place was ranch land, all the way up the little hill behind the field, around the field and even behind me was all grazing land that looked exactly like the soccer field – grassy. Juan planted some trees and things, but mainly the trees and vegetation you see is is all growth from 6 years of not allowing animals to graze the land. Totally remarkable.
The farm gets all of its power from two hydro-electric plants. Here is a (really unhelpful because you can’t tell what is going on) picture of the smaller of the two plants.
There was a lot to see on the farm … I took pictures of about 4% of it because Riaz and I couldn’t stop making fun of the other people on our tour. We’re such good people.
P.S. This monkey was crazy – it was apparently part of some monkey rescue program, but it was the angriest primate on the planet. While we were there it bit two different women and I saw it chuck roof tiles at a group of visiting school children.
P.P.S. I didn’t get a single good shot of this monkey because (1) when it was around I only had the small point and shoot camera and (2) I was too scared to get anywhere near the thing so I settled for shots of its back. Bless.
(Ed. Note: Aiman is sleeping in our room while the folks are in town. I can’t sleep so I am writing this in bed and watching the little cutie roll around in his crib. He is currently snoring like a trucker. The end.)
I think the most awesome thing about the Rancho was the composting system. Yes, the compost. I am a nerd.
The farm takes all its compostable materials and puts it into these huge bins that have heating coils running through them. The heat from the composting process heats the coils and the coils provide all the hot water for the farm and bungalows. I took a nice hot shower when we got to our room, so I can attest that it works like a charm. Really cool system.
We stayed at the Rancho for two nights and then were off to our next destination. The “hotel” was definitely a little rustic and probably not to everyone’s tastes, but Riaz and I loved it and would definitely recommend it to those interested in insane monkeys or sustainable living.
Next time I get around to recapping our road trip (probably sometime in 2012), we’ll finish off with our one night stay at the super nice hotel right at the base of the volcano and our trip to Escazu to meet with the Costa Rican Baby Doc. Stay tuned, but don’t hold your breath.