Monday, June 4, 2012

Arenal, May 13, 2012

The restaurant at the hospital is not cheap.  I think the least I could have spent on breakfast here was about $7-$8, so I went for a walk in the cool of the morning and found another bakery with the most scrumptious croissants filled with dulce de leche and cinnamon rolls made with some sort of flaky pastry.  I couldn't resist and had one of each, though part of my motivation is that I'm thinking to skip lunch and just have one of my fruit bars.  Anyway, those along with a cup of coffee were only $3, which is quite the saving!  It was a beautiful morning as the worship singing of a nearby church could be heard, and people were singing quite well.  In front of me was a school with huge, old trees, one of which attracted a hummingbird, likely for its read berries or flowers that were on it.  I've seen how 4 hummingbirds this week alone, more, I think, than in my entire life!  Eventually it started raining, so I'd walk for a bit, then take cover and then walk again when the rain died down.   The clouds her always move very fast here; it's weird.  I'm hoping the rain stays away during my horse riding venture this afternoon.

The afternoon turned out to be wonderful.  How can one describe it?  Lush greenery, so humid you can see condensation on the miss.  Here and there, a tropical flower bursts out in flaming red or orange amidst the greenery.  There were fascinating types of fungi, and on the way home, I saw black birds with exquisite, lipstick red back.  I could have ridden for quite a while longer.

Wow, even for a trail ride, the afternoon really was great.  The guide didn't speak much English, so we gabbed a lot, and I learned that he pretty much comes from a horse family, that he "was riding while still in his mother's womb."  There was another couple on the trip, Sheeal and Shelly, from Chicago, and they happened to be from Indian backgrounds, too.  I was thinking, what are the chances that the only other Indians in this town are on the same excursion as I am?  I thought it was a funny coincidence.

The only bad part is that when we got to the waterfall, we actually had to wade through a pool of water to see it.  I was afraid to go over the rocks with wet feet, so I took my chances with my camera in hand and ended up slipping on a rock under water and that was the end of my camera.  That little dip killed it.  I got it wet once before, and it was fine once it dried, so I was hoping that would work again, but regardless, I couldn't use it the rest of the ride.  There weren't many more pictures I could have taken after that since it started raining on our way back to the horses (we had to descend several steep stairs to get to the waterfall--and that cool water in the pool was at least refreshing!), such that by the time we got back to them, it was pouring, and our saddles were wet.  The staircase trip was about 15 minutes down and slightly longer back up as both Shelley and I struggled to do all the steps back up as it's just so hot and humid.  At least the rain dropped the temperature a lot, so that made it really comfortable for the rest of the trip, though the guide was cold!

Now I'm just relaxing in the beautiful cool of the evening.  The ride home, in any case, took us through a lot of bush, and though we had helmets, it wasn't the same as having a brim on a hat, and I really missed my cowboy hat since we went through a lot of bush, which can whip you in the face as much as bush country here at home, only that it's tropical bush.  Actually that kind of freaked me out because I kept thinking, what if there are poisonous insects on those that are going to bite me! In any case, it was a lot like riding through the country at home only with tropical vegetation.  We even went through a couple of streams.  The guide says there's usually wildlife like deer and toucans, but we didn't see much, including the mountain we were supposed to see, due to the rain.  Can't win `em all!  It was beautiful.

Tomorrow I'm off to Nicaragua.  I'm a little nervous about the border crossing and just getting there because I don't have anything booked and can't really book in advance anyway. So we'll see how that goes.

Oh, I should mention that after the ride, you stop in a little butterfly and frog sanctuary.  We weren't able to see too much, just 2 kinds of butterflies and one type of frog.  The one butterfly was really cool, brown on the underside and blue on the top side of the wings.  I couldn't get a photo of the blue part--just like birds, the butterflies seem to know you want pictures of them and would simply taunt you by flashing the blue too quickly to get a shot.  And birds usually just fly away.  The other butterflies were similar to monarchs but smaller.  I used to see them with the migrating monarchs in Monterrey during butterfly as they would fly south for the winter.  As for the frog, Sheeal and Shelley said a guide had told them they are all poisonous dart frogs.  Not sure if that's the actual name, but it's cool nonetheless.

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