Saturday, November 26, 2016

Final Day of Costa Rica: A Volcano Hot Spring Resort

Our final excursion was a great one. Our mission was to go to Arenal Volcano and then have all the fun at Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort.

Per usual we had a monster drive ahead of us but the tour company did a good job of breaking the monotony with little stops of interest. Obviously we needed to stop to see the world's largest ox cart in the city of Sarchí. Someone looked at the world's largest ox cart and said, "I'd like to live under that." So they did.

The ox cart has a place in Costa Rican culture because it used to be what they would use to transport coffee from the mountains where it grew down to port for sale.

There was a church.

They had a funny little bulletin board of all the recent marriage licenses posted. I initially thought they were wanted posters.

I wanted to stop here mostly because I liked the name: Panificadora Super Pan.

There was a souvenir shop with a lot of woodworking stuff in it. I think it may have been made by the same people that made the giant ox cart.

Unfortunately my "coconuts carved to look like monkeys" budget has been cut drastically.

Somewhere along the road was a guy selling bottles of honey out the back of a pickup truck. Our guide stopped and bought one and I thought maybe he was going to let us taste it or something. Nope.

This was sugarcane country. I guess the volcanic soil is good for agriculture because there was a ton of it out here.

I spurned the classic lunch plate this time and went with "chicken rice". It tasted like something my mom used to make.

We got lots of pictures in front of Arenal Volcano. It was funny because when we got there you could barely tell it was a volcano because it was shrouded in clouds. The longer we stayed the more the clouds vanished, though, so we had to just keep taking pictures.

Our guide kept raving about the African grass they imported.

I like my snakes to be really small, unmoving, nonthreatening snakes.

Last stop was the Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort. There was an awesome warning sign at the entrance:

"Dear Guest: This is an area of possible volcanic activity. Please follow all safety measures as posted or as instructed in the event of an emergency. Acts of nature and those caused by disregard of safety precautions, are not the responsibility of the management of Inversiones Turisticas Arenal S.A. Have a pleasant stay with us."

"How did John die again? 
Oh he was drinking a piña colada in a volcano that erupted.
Oh yeah, bad luck. Heard management wasn't responsible."

I'll let Tabacón's pretty sweet looking website explain what exactly is going on here:

"Discover Costa Rica´s largest network of naturally flowing thermal mineral springs in Arenal’s largest and most beautiful private, rainforest reserve. Tabacon is flanked by the beautiful Arenal Volcano at one end and the Arenal Volcano National Park on the other. The road here literally takes you to the heard of the jungle, so expect the sounds and sights of the native flora and fauna to flood your senses. This is where the thermal experience begins.

There are five main springs source highly mineralized water that is heated underground by the Arenal Volcano’s magma. Thousands of gallons of this perfect water naturally emanate every minute. The thermal water flows throughout the resort, forming the Tabacon River. You will find dozens of cascading waterfalls and warm pools along the riverbed, of varying temperatures, water flows and degree of privacy.

Many hot springs destinations in the Arenal Volcano Region and around the world drill wells and rely on pumps and mechanical systems to fill their pools. Others re-circulate and/or re-heat their supposed “thermal” waters, by means of gas boilers and other heating methods. All of Tabacon’s water has always been and will always be true, thermal water, naturally heated by the volcano and slowly mineralized, underground."

Zoe seemed to think she was in a shampoo commercial at times.

These random candy corn looking seed pod things kept falling off the trees and into the water. It was fun.

We saw a few really cool lizard guys hanging out by the water.

We went straight from a multiple hour sauna experience into an even hotter dining room area with a buffet. I was too hot to eat anything.

My interview of course had to take place when I was several drinks down and delirious with heat exhaustion. Real cool.

We got up early the next morning for our flight back to St. Louis, having confirmed that hurricanes are not a real thing and no one should worry about them.

We had a little hotel breakfast first.

Can you imagine how much fatter we would all be if McDonald's in the US delivered like it seems to everywhere else?

Here's a good shot of the mall that was across the street from the hotel. It's your average Johnny Rocket's/Maserati dealership type mall.

The one thing that we didn't see on this trip was sloths. I've seen them in Colombia, but Lydia hasn't. Burn!

Southwest was having some trouble deciding when our plane might take off.

In Costa Rica Santa rides an ox cart pulled by jaguars on surfboards.

We didn't buy any of this crap.

We arrived in Houston just in time for 70 days 3 hours until the Super Bowl.