Our final day started with a breakfast at the hotel, a farewell to Dirk, settling of our accounts (hot sauce, dinner, 3 nights) over poor WiFi that took 20 minutes to transact a Paypal transfer, and then finally leaving Nuevo Arenal and departing Costa Rica. Dirk had to kick all other guests off the network and lock it down simply so we would have enough bandwidth to get on. It’s amazing how much we missed fast internet. We took one last pass around the room and were in the car and on the road by 915AM, anticipating a 2 hour or less drive back to Economy Rent A Car in Liberia. The drive back went smoothly except for a weird detour that Google Maps recommended we take to hypotenuse around a section of the 142 road. It took us on a very bumpy and windy dirt road and we ended up behind two slow trucks (we knew we were on the right track, but it was painful going and we wished we hadn’t). Incidentally, this was the first time we experienced a negative outcome from using Google Maps over Waze – which we were warned about by the rental car….
We again decided to opt-out of the simply hotel breakfast and instead made for Nuevo Arenal once more before our day of howler monkeys and hot springs. It had rained profusely the previous night causing a few power outages, so when we got to town our hopes of eating at Casa Paniaguas, the highest rated breakfast place in Nuevo Arenal, were dashed because it was closed. We later found out that the storms didn’t cause the outage, but rather than it was a scheduled power outage by the authorities for maintenance. Either way, we had to pivot and a local who saw us looking confused directed us to Las Delicias across the street. It unfortunately had no WiFi, but it did have hearty breakfasts. I ordered the pancake, egg and sausage plate and Brendan ordered the local (typico) breakfast. Both were delicious, just like the name of the restaurant. Once more our goal was to sustain ourselves until dinner at Gingerbread, and we knew we would have a long day howler monkeys and hot springs ahead of us, so ample sustenance was required. After this breakfast we decided to go have a second breakfast at the German restaurant to get….
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….