La Fortuna, Costa Rica

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After my phone led us straight over a mountain on a precarious one-lane dirt road in our 4-banger rental car that needed the AC turned off to make it up steep hills, we were rewarded with a stunning view of Arenal Volcano. Very lucky for us, since the peak is often obscured by clouds. (Pro tip: download the maps.me app to navigate Costa Rica using only your phone’s GPS signal, no data required!)

A bit too sunburnt for another day on the beach, a last-minute decision led us to La Fortuna to visit the volcano and the eponymous waterfall. We were lucky once again to find a nice AirBnB walking distance from the falls, where we killed an hour enjoying the view while we waited to check in. We then fled to the other side of the volcano to hang out at the Mistico Hanging Bridges.

The park is well maintained (plus some duct tape), though I’d expect nothing less from a park that features 6 hanging bridges that stretch up to 100 meters long and hang up to 100 meters above the forest floor. That picture above of me being fake scared lasted about six seconds before a gust of wind shook the bridge and I was actually terrified. But it was well worth it, the views are beautiful and we happened upon the final two critters in our “big five” list: howler monkeys and a pack of playful coatis.

After some issues with our shower and AC, my faith in AirBnB was restored on our final morning in La Fortuna, where we shared our free breakfast with two green macaws. We’d been trying to track them down all week by the beach in Jaco and here they were hanging out in the hotel’s trees waiting for sunflower seeds. We capped off the trip hobbling around the lava rocks at the base of the volcano before making our way back to San Jose and, eventually, Tegucigalpa.

With so much to see in Central America in the next year, I don’t think we’ll make it back to Costa Rica, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend its Pacific coast to anyone seeking adventure without having to sacrifice safety or convenience.

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