Friday, December 30, 2011

Off the bus...

12-28-11  We arrived back at La Fortuna about 3 pm, and stopped so several could buy towels and swim suits, for the waterfall adventure ahead.  Me, well, I jumped off the bus to go buy stamps and have some blog time (there is pretty much no time to stop and think or write on these tours if you do all the activities).

I took my backpack, made sure I knew directions to walk back to the hotel, and on my own.  At the post office, a small clean office, the two British women in front of me told me postcards to Europe are 340 colones each, and I found stamps to the US are 280 each [oh, though we can use US dollars anywhere in Costa Rica, here they do have their own currency, the colones--named after Cristof Colon (Columbus), and exchanged at more or less the rate of 500 colones /1 US$].  The post-worker clarified, flashing his fingers, that I really did want cuarente (40) stamps, punched in a code, and the machine printed them off right there as labels.  Not the dazzle of big pretty stamps, but a lot easier.

After that, a little shopping, a walk past the pretty town-center garden, and I stopped for a beer at a local cafe, the Restaurant El Jardin,  I ordered an Imperial, the waitress smiled, and there I was, free!  Although the Arenal Volcano has officially stopped streaming out lava, last year (much to the disappointment of Brian and Laura, who also managed to shut down the Hawaiian volcanoes by trying to visit recently.  Picture the TV ad:  Have a volcano in your back yard?  Want the garden and swingset instead of the tourists and lava?  Call Brian and Laura, Volcano Busters!), the volcano is still the focus of La Fortuna, its hold on tourists, and so my little cafe had hand-painted volcano napkin holders, along with the ubiquitous red sauce and the Lizano salsa ("La original desde 1920").  On a high wall were 5 photos of Arenal in various eruptions and iconic silhouette.
The Sony flat screen on the wall played some chunk of a Happy Feet movie, and then moved on to highlights of the Costa Rican-style bullfight (very similar to Portugal, not the matador-sword model of Spain), where dozens of guys run through the arena taunting the bull til it tires.  No blood, except in the highlights, which had the unluckly or clumsy runners trampled.

A peddlar on the street put the raincover on one of his two huge backpacks of leather shoes, and moved on down the street.  A shift changed, and a happy off-work waiter had a beer.  Some local, perhaps ex-patriot American, and surely a character (longer blond hair, a white casino hat, a cheap floral print shirt, skinny legs), had his water bottle filled with white wine, then sat smoking at the one-table smoking area.

Most fun--a tourist lady (tourist, I realize, seeing her the next day when our bus stops at the German Bakery--the flow of tourists has its own patterns; will I see her again today in Monteverde?) ordered a meal, and her rice came shaped in the perfect cone of the Arenal Volcano.

I made it back to the hotel, an easy 15-minute walk.  The group visited the La Fortuna waterfall, and later that night, the Arenal 'hot springs,' which they didn't realize is actually a spa.  All had a good time.  Maybe they will post a few pictures.

later, bob
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