Morning always comes too early while in most places. Today the birds outside my window have awakened me before dawn. Normally this would have caused a very grumbly response, but today it brought giggles of joy. I am just outside of the rainforest, and already we are surrounded by more than twenty-five species of birds. Today is also the first day of Change… Back home our former captain Shit-head (sorry that’s his only name) has turned over his presidency to a man that can hopefully nudge this out-of-control patriarch-like system back towards democracy. History is being made as I type, in that this will be the first African-American elected president. Though, that was never even an issue here, neither a pro nor a con; we just liked his politics. Being a day for celebration, I have arranged for chilled champagne in our hotel for tonight’s arrival.
Driving from the outskirts of the San Jose area towards the Arenal volcano, I am over come with a sense of life or as the Ticos say “pura vida”. The green carpet of the land rolls on for miles. I see birds slicing the air with a touch of flirty-playfulness. Banana, coconut and papaya groves sway in the breeze. Misty mountains are shrouded with clouds and there are even a few old Jersey cows in the fields. With all this life it is hard to see what is not there. But something is missing; the trees. Miles of rainforest have been cleared and burned for raising beef. Beef being the number one export, it brings in more money than tourist that wanting to see virgin rain forests. Because of this, Alex and I have decided to boycott beef while in this amazing country. In a world of such crisis, we individuals can only hope that by making the right choices that others will follow until sustainability becomes a global movement.
Later Jorge and Tonio arrive to pick us up for a volcano hike in the afternoon. Just as we pull away from the hotel we stop to view a three-toed sloth. Within a few minutes, we paused again to view a quati- something between a lemur and a raccoon. Then while climbing a small trail behind the Arenal Volcano, we were introduced to toucans, hawks, spiders, leaf cutter ants, howler monkeys and more birds than anyone could remember all the names to, except for Jorge, our guide- he knew them all by the sounds they made. We were tested on our Costa Rican history and told many interesting trivia facts about the active volcano and surrounding land. Knowing that our hotel sits in area one- or the most dangerous part of the mountainous valley- stirs up a little uneasiness.
Our day has the perfect ending, relaxing at the world famous Tabacón Hot Springs. I thought I had found paradise earlier in the jungle so this had to be off the charts. A hot river pouring over young volcanic rock beds embraced us. Waterfalls demanded attention and respect while conjuring romance. A shallow cave behind a large waterfall stirs up the passion while the water pounded just beyond shoulders. Tobacón offers a vacation from the vacation. With is swim up bars, waterslide, acres of private river flowing nearly at 42° C and top notch food, why would anyone return back to their tour bus with sketchy AC, the loud laughing woman and the extra large guy sitting next to them eating a Big Mac?