The next morning we woke up more or less at the same time and prepared our plan to hike around the Arenal Volcano. We decided to have a small snack at the Ceiba Tree Lodge but save our actual breakfast for the German café we had seen previously in Nuevo Arenal which had good reviews. Before taking off, we arranged a dinner reservation with Dirk at 7PM for $19 per person for steak night (the meal he had served the previous night while we were just hanging out in the main area looked amazing, and all the guests seemed to enjoy it). The cat was hanging around too. We made it to Nuevo Arenal again, which was a short 15 minute drive from our lodge, and found a table easily at the German restaurant. We were finding that everywhere had good Wi-Fi except for where we were staying apparently. We took care of some more house buying related stuff back in Denver, and then set to ordering. I ordered the gringo breakfast (scrambled eggs, toast, and sausage) and Brendan ordered an apple strudel with ice cream. We were on ‘cation after all! We made sure to have a large breakfast….
I woke up around 7AM (with the sun more or less after a bit of tossing and turning) and started my morning yoga routine in prep for a day of ecotourism in Costa Rica. Brendan slept an hour longer. Breakfast ended at 9AM and we already told Dirk we would be there towards the back-end of it, and we were true to our word. That said, there was almost nothing left when we arrived – early bird really does catch the proverbial worm here. There was a picked over selection of fruit, some yogurt, some cereal, toast and a little coffee remaining. Dirk offered to make us some eggs as well and a few moments later a plate of one fried egg showed up for me and a heaping helping of scrambled eggs appeared for Brendan. I should have ordered the scramble! Seriously, though, we never did get tired of the view from the patio lodge at breakfast-time. After breakfast, we got moving fairly quickly after discussing some potential ecotourism options with Dirk. He suggested a few things for us – first, we wanted to see animals, so he suggested the ecoutourism Ecocentro Danaus, just outside La Fortuna. We also….
It was about 2 hours to Nuevo Arenal, where we had booked 4 nights at Ceiba Tree Lodge through Booking.com. We had made it across the border with a lot less hassle than we had expected, but we were still wearing thin on energy and eager to arrive to Nuevo Arenal. The roads were great and traffic was nonexistent, and Brendan graciously agreed to drive the first day (we would take turns after that). Driving was much better than in Nicaragua, and the roads were better as well. We did encounter a few potholes once we were off Highway 1 and on to Highway 142, but it was nothing that couldn’t be handled. We made only a few wrong turns on the way via our pre-downloaded Google offline maps, and took a very scenic road around the Lake Arenal to our destination of Nuevo Arenal on the other side. It was no problem at all. We were happy to have an SUV even so. Here was our route: We had a brief stop at a scenic overlook on the west side of Lake Arenal, about 45 minutes from our destination on route 142. The turnoff to the Ceiba Tree lodge….
Our big day crossing the border from Nicaragua to Costa Rica was upon us, and we were extremely apprehensive given all the concern from the expats the night before. We woke up at 7AM so we could immediately check on whether a car/driver would be waiting for us, as previously arranged through the hotel. We had sent an email to Eric, the receptionist who had been helping us out before we arrived in Nicaragua, but had not yet heard back, and he had unfortunately not been working on Saturday to be able to check with him personally. As luck would have it, after I bolted out of bed from my natural alarm clock in my brain right before 7AM and went downstairs to check who was working he desk, Eric was there (but helping a customer). Soon after Brendan woke up, we confirmed that the car and driver would be there at 8AM on the dot. We packed up our stuff, had a nice breakfast, and sure enough, we were back in business with a punctual business arrangement and on the road to crossing the border from Nicaragua to Costa Rica. Our driver, Hector, picked us up in a tiny….
The next morning we slept in a bit more but not much, knowing that we would have a long night at the Nica wedding near Aposentillo outside of Chinandega. We met the group traveling from Leon at Brett’s house, where we had visited the night we arrived, at 1:30 PM. Prior to that we spent the morning relaxing, doing some new house stuff (we recently closed on a house and had some lingering paperwork), and had a nice French toast breakfast at the Azul Restaurante and Hotel. Brett had organized a bus that left his house around 2PM due to a few late arrivals (8 or so people going to the wedding caught the bus from Leon). Brett, Silvia, the families, and Derek had left for the beach area the previous night to set everything up. The bus ride was a grueling, sweat soaked, cramped (tiniest seats ever!) 60 minutes rolling over numerous speedbumps on a small road leading north through Chinandega, and then over a dirt road for the last 30 minutes – 90 minutes in total including the 2 times we got stuck on the dirt road and bottomed out. Nobody on the bus had really ever been….