Monday 27 February 2023 – All we had to do today was to get ourselves from Bijagua to our next stop, La Finca Lodge near La Fortuna, a two-hour drive roughly back towards San José in the centre of the country.
We achieved this without problems but not without distractions, mainly in the form of new birds to see on the feeders at Casitas Tenorio before we left.
(Those with a keen eye will notice that the nice folk at Easily, who host my website, have managed to sort out the problem that made it impossible for me to upload photos and videos, which cramps one’s style as a blog writer somewhat.)
Jane also managed to get a great video of the Montezuma Oropendola’s extraordinary call, which is accompanied by a unique display.
A coati got in on the action, too.
and Nana, the manager, fed the pizza that we couldn’t finish to the B&B’s dogs, Whisky and Dingo.
We were on the point of leaving when Nana’s husband pointed out a very unusual critter on one of the table ornaments.
He opined that it was an ogre-faced spider, but a swift Google search disabused us of that notion. We showed this picture to a chap who was described to us as a professional naturalist who initially had no idea what it was. Eventually, he thought it might be a leaf-mimic katydid. Whatever, it’s a weird beast.
We took our leave of Casitas Tenorio, which had been a very well-organised and pleasant place to stay and started the drive over to La Finca Lodge. The roads were basically fine, with good surfaces, which made the whole thing more relaxing. The countryside was very pleasant, and Jane grabbed some shots of it as we went by.
One thing we noticed as we drove along, that marks Costa Rica out to us from pretty much anywhere else we’ve visited is something that I hadn’t explicitly clocked until Scott, the American chap on our tour last night, pointed it out.
The place is immaculate.
There is no litter. None.
Coming from the UK, where paths and roads are littered with burger boxes, nitro gas canisters and Red Bull cans, I find this extraordinary. The buildings may on occasion be ramshackle, but the place is spotless.
I wish the UK could find this sense of civic pride.
Our plan had been to visit, and indeed have lunch at, the Observatory Lodge in the park of the Arenal Volcano, which is one of Costa Rica’s better-known features. It was dormant until 1968, when it erupted dramatically and unexpectedly, destroying the small town of Tabacón. Arenal’s eruption from 1968 to 2010 is the tenth longest duration volcanic eruption on Earth since 1750. Since 2010, though, it has been dormant, which makes visiting the area slightly less daunting.
What was daunting, however, was the surface of the road that Waze suggested was the route to the lodge, which was something of a detour from the direct route to La Finca. It was rough, boulder-strewn and cratered. We managed to do about half a kilometre before deciding that life was too short to endure any more. So we turned round and resumed our journey to La Finca. As we approached, we saw the countryside dotted with vividly-coloured trees.
We subsequently found out that this is called Corteza Amarilla, and we were exceedingly lucky to see its display, as it flowers like this for just one week every year.
Waze took us towards La Finca with unerring accuracy but its directions left us halted outside a large and rather forbidding-looking metal gate. We weren’t sure (a) whether it was an entrance to La Finca or (b) what to do about getting in if it was. At that point, a car coming in the opposite direction stopped and its driver wound down his window, so I did the same. He asked, in really quite good English, if he could help and we said we were looking for La Finca. He confirmed it was, and did some magic which opened the gate for us. We have no idea who he was or how come he could work this magic, but we were very grateful anyway.
We drove in and were greeted very cordially at their reception and shown to our room, which was called Gecko. It was a very nice, large room
with, to Jane’s delight, a hammock on the veranda. She lost no time in getting acquainted with it whilst I
had a well-earned kip started backing up, selecting and processing photos for this blog. Whilst she was resting out there, she had a small visitor, a humming bird of some description.
Come 6 o’clock we headed over to La Finca’s restaurant, where we had a very decent evening meal. We also met Esteban, the founder and owner of the place, a charismatic, knowledgeable and slightly roguish man. As part of our Pura Aventura itinerary, we could choose between various options for the following day – a float along the river spotting wildlife, hiking around a park with many waterfalls, a visit to the Arenal Observatory Lodge, a trip to see the Hanging Bridges of La Fortuna, and so on. Esteban was clearly very clued-up about the benefits of each and helped us make our selection. We decided on the Arenal trip and an afternoon on the hanging bridges. The Arenal Observatory Lodge is in the volcano’s national park and features various trails and significant opportunity to see – you guessed it – wildlife. This meant an early start the next day to give us the best chance to spot it, in the company of a very knowledgeable guide (the chap we puzzled with our katydid photo).
We agreed that the time to start was (sigh) 0730, so we headed back to our Gecko room after dinner with an intention to get an early night, which was only slightly spoiled by my staying up rather too long creating some of the deathless prose that you will already have read. You have, haven’t you? Good.
So, tune in tomorrow to see (a) whether we got up in time on the morrow and ( b) whether we had a good day. Spoiler alert: we did.