La Fortuna Waterfall and Oh My How Costa Rica has Changed

Date of Entry: January 25th 2017

Date of Writing: February 13th 2018

It take longer than I want it to to get from Montezuma to La Fortuna, the little town I visited and fell in love with in the Costa Rican mountains directly under Arenal Volcano.  It was active last time I was here, but sadly not so anymore.  The bus from Montezuma to the ferry leaves early and takes a few hours, I then buy my ferry ticket, enjoy an ice cream and end up napping on board the boat, pretty tired out from the frantic pace of this trip that started in Medellin just three weeks ago.  Once we arrive in Punta Arenas I take a cheap taxi to the bus station and just barely make it to the late morning bus journey to San Ramon.  There in the bus terminal I meet an american guy who has some interesting stories, he lives in costa rica working in a call centre to sign up americans for Obamacare a program and man that he deeply hates.  But he’s definitely interesting to talk to and when we arrive in San Ramon, a small college town, and find the other bus station to get to La Fortuna only to find that the bus has left early and we have a few hours to kill.

San Ramon ends up being a nice place to spend a few hours, a rarity in Costa Rica it has almost no tourism presence and my American friend and I wander and talk about politics over ice cream before heading back to the bus stations and getting on the next bus which gets us to LA Fortuna just after sunset.

I say goodbye to the American and walk from the bus station to my hostel Arenal Backpackers resort, which is basically a resort just with dorms.  It’s beautiful but the fact that it and many others have opened in La Fortuna show just how much the town has changed.  When we came here it was still simple and only a burgeoning tourism destination, now it seems to be a full on mecca, but it’s still in a really beautiful place.

After a good nights sleep and tasty breakfast at the hostel I wake up and set out for my first outing in La Fortuna, to places I actually missed last time around as I did not yet know how I felt about waterfalls.  I take a shared taxi as it’s not too far to the so called La Fortuna Waterfall and once I’m there I pay the very steep entrance fee of 15 usd, but then again that’s costa rica in 2017 for you… it’s beautiful but it’s not cheap.

Walking into the cloud forests I pass many flags before finally coming to a distant viewpoint of the turret of water cutting through a never ending wall of mountainous green.  It’s beautiful, but as with any waterfall, I just want to get close to it.  Inside it if I can.

I walk the very well maintained trail down, descending hundreds of steps and wondering how tired I’ll be getting back up to the top, it’s quite warm and the cloud forest means it feels very humid.  Oh well as I get closer and closer to the pool and see the beautiful colours of the water, lost in the irrepressible sound of cascading water I forget such worries, and snap some pictures from above before heading down and into the water, which looks ice cold.

Sadly I have lost my go pro photos in an SD card explosion (what I get for allowing myself to get a year behind in blogging) but I decide to wander into the water with sandals to better cope with the rocky bottom.  It is as cold and refreshing as it looked from outside, though the crash of the powerful falls creates a current too strong to actually get under the main flow of the falls, but you’d best believe I get closer than anyone else there, and end up being called back by the life guard’s whistle.  I’ll always wonder how much closer I could have made it.

I eventually head back towards shore but cant make myself leave the waters yet and wander into dangerous territories to some boulders near by where the river flows into another set of cascades smaller but with so much pull I find myself desperately swimming and grabbing onto the boulders trying to pull myself up onto the rock, like a beached whale except I’m trying to get out of the water.

Long Story short I make it, but my sandal does not.  The current rips it’s several straps and carries it away, O move downstream to find it but the flow of the water is too strong and it is lost somewhere in the cloud forests of costa rica.  Having just one pice of footwear will definitely make the hike back up the parking area quite a bit more difficult.

I spend another few hours in and out of the water, exploring some of the rapids downstream outside of the lifeguards whistle domain and again I excuse myself for the lost photos.  Finally I head back up, deciding to do the thankfully well made and even trail barefoot, as it’s easier than one shoe on one shoe lost in the mountains of Costa Rica.

I say a last goodbye to the falls from above and take the same taxi back to town, taking the last few hours of the day to wander around town, chill at my hostel, organize a trip for tomorrow and take some pictures of the ever present in La Fortuna, the looming and impressive Arenal Volcano.

As I wander through town I realize i feel a change here even more than in Montezuma.  Montezuma has grown and there is more tourism there but the vibe hasn’t changed, here it sort of has, and is no longer a sleepy little town but instead a place overpackerd with tourists.  But like I said before it’s still beautiful and surrounded by some amazing attractions.

I end up eating dinner with some cool french people from the hostel and enjoy the chance to practice my french, even if switching between French and Spanish for the waiter is really messing with my mind.  We have a decent meal and better conversation before I crawl into bed and pass out knowing that I have a long day ahead tomorrow:  a tour booked with red lava tours to Paraiso Escondido, a set of waterfalls that are said to be the most unnatural blue green colour ever, and one hell of a hike and some canyoning to get there too.  Stay tuned for that, and I’ll try to write more frequently.

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