Sunday, June 15, 2014

Volcan Arenal

Flue/cold bugs finally hit Mike too and when he was slowly getting better, they caught up with Jeanette… All in all it took 9 days to get rid of them, we were idle in Costa Rica all that time. As much as we enjoyed our stay at El Sol Verde, we were all keen to go too by now as well. Volcan Arenal, which we were supposed to have visited on our third day in Costa Rica, not the 11th, was finally in sight. Jeanette still wasn't 100% fit but she was, if anything, even keener to go than we were :-)

We enjoyed one more Dutch breakfast, said goodbye to Gerard and Ingrid and rode away. The first 10 km from El Sol Verde to the main road is a beautiful road and a great way to start the day and get the 'yes, we're on the road again' feeling going. After that it's the dreadful Pan American Highway. Why anyone would want to take that road all the way to Argentina is a mystery to me. Where-ever we have been in Mexico and Central America, the Pan American is booo-ring! In Costa Rica it isn't any different. If anything, it's worse. For some incomprehensible reason the powers that be had decided that it was time to upgrade the whole road… all of it! The result? Roadworks that last forever. The speed limit through all this is a whopping 30 km/hr and the trucks stick to it. 

Overtaking was hardly possible yet some tried the most insane overtaking manoeuvres to do it anyway. After well over an hour in 36 degrees and humid conditions, we had lost more sweat than we'd actually made progress. The way this was going I might not make it to Volcan Arenal before my first pension check…

When we finally reached the turnoff to the 142, we all breathed a sigh of relief. A couple of kilometres further we stopped at a small restaurant to top up our fluid levels which had diminished somewhat by sweat pouring out of us. This was seriously beginning to look like a bad day when the nice lady at the shop said she was out of Coca Cola… we had to contend with Coca Zero… I really hate the man or woman who had invented that chemical derivate of the real thing. After all if he or she hadn't invented it, the space taken up by it in this lady's fridge would have been filled by the real stuff. As it was we had to contend with chemical surrogate sugar. Grmbl.

The 142 is a winding mountain road. It's tarmac all the way but tarmac poured over a gravel road and quite bumpy. Jeanette is riding with one shock absorber and mine have lost most of their damping now as well. In the end Ikon shock absorbers were just not up to the job. I wasn't going to let it spoil the trip though as the scenery was outstanding. Despite lots of rain forecasted and black clouds forming all around us, we had sunshine and beautiful views without as much as one drop of rain. How lucky were we again! 

We made quite a few photos of the Volcan and the beautiful lake in front of it. The Volcan itself no longer produces lava but it's still a mysterious looking giant. Surrounded by clouds and smoke like it doesn't want the world to know what it is doing. The plan had been to camp near the National Park but the campground, if you can call it that, was a muddy swamp. The entrance road to it a collection of rocks and holes and everything around it looked decisively shabby too. We decided to leave. The contrast with El Sol Verde was too big and we didn't want a beautiful day to end with camping in mud. Just 12 kilometres further is a swimming complex that offers camping too. So we rode on to check it out!

With the benefit of hindsight a wise decision as Los Termales Hotsprings is a much better place to camp. It's actually quite good by any standard and considerably cheaper too. To our complete surprise they even had internet. Los Termales is a big swimming complex complete with a small shop and restaurant but as the camping is outside the complex it is quiet too.

We camped with Volcano-view! How good is that?