Hot and Cold in La Fortuna

After our three day yoga retreat in Santa Teresa, we took a six hour journey back to mainstream tourism. We like to mix and match our travels with equal amounts of off the beaten path and touristy stuff. Hey, it’s our first time in the country after all so why not enjoy its popular sights and attractions too.

Anyone who has been to Costa Rica has been to La Fortuna and its surrounding areas. From San Jose (the capital city), it is a quick three hour ride amongst beautiful mountain views. You will never run out of things to do in La Fortuna since it is the town where most everything is based. For the thrill seeker, this place is nirvana. I also found La Fortuna surprisingly clean and not very busy considering the amount of tourists that come every day.

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Arenal Volcano is one of Costa Rica’s more popular volcanos with its near perfect cone. Situated in the Arenal Volcano National Park, it is only about 4 miles from La Fortuna. You can see its majestic presence looming over town like a watchful sentinel.

Hot Springs

Upon arriving at our hotel, we immediately went straight to a hot springs resort. The area, considering its proximity to the volcano has so many hot spring resorts, be it big or small, fancy or simple, expensive or cheap. Whatever your mood is for the day, there is a hot spring waiting for you. There is even a free public one beside a huge spa resort where the locals and the more adventurous tourists go. Why pay when you can go for free? But then again you don’t get the extra amenities that the resort offers. It really is all up to you.

The Eco Termales Hot Springs Resort was the perfect one for us that day because we wanted a smallish romantic hot spring experience without the large crazy water park crowds. It boasts of an almost all natural setting where the pool and its surroundings make you feel like you are in the middle of a rainforest. They also control the number of guests by assigning time slots on your reservations. So if you want peace and quiet and ultimate relaxation, then this is the place.

They only have five pools, each with varying degrees of hotness. I can only take the first one, pictured below. The rest was just too uncomfortable for my body, not even my toes could handle it.

This was the hottest of them all at 103 deg F.

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They also have a cold refreshing pool just behind the others to give your body a chilling shock after being in the hot waters for awhile. No more than 30 mins in the hot springs was the rule. But once your body has acclimated to the heat, jumping into those cold waters can be freezing!

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Cold Waters and Canyoneering

The next day we booked a canyoneering tour from Desafio adventure company. If you haven’t been on one before, you should try it at least once in your lifetime! If you love the outdoors, if you seek that adrenaline rush, if you want to challenge yourself, canyoneering (or canyoning) is the perfect activity.

We started out early in the morning, got picked up from our hotel and then proceeded to “base camp”. We got lucky there were only six people, including us, for that day. I heaved a huge sigh of relief. That means no long waits for everyone to be done.

The drive to the drop off point was super bumpy riding in one of their “jungle limos”. You have to grab a hold of something otherwise you would probably fall off your seat while your body sways back and forth as your ride navigates seemingly endless waves of rocky roads.

Once there, you get fitted with a harness and a helmet and the team briefs you for the safety orientation. After that, it is all systems go!

What exactly is canyoneering/canyoning?

It is trekking through a river, over rocks, boulders and fallen trees…

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Climbing up and going down wet slippery rocks…

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Rapelling down a 150 ft or a 200 ft waterfall… or more!

Jumping into a refreshingly cool pool of water…

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And just enjoying the awesomeness of nature and each other!

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It only took us about 4 hours and at the end, back at their drop off point, was lunch waiting for us.

Which activity do you think you would enjoy the most? The hot springs or the canyoneering? Ultimate relaxation or pure adventure?

Quote Challenge Day One: Fear

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I am deeply honored (and quite flabbergasted) to have been nominated by this sassy très chic mummy of Estelea’s Blog for this three day quote challenge.

The rules are to post 3 quotes over 3 days and nominate 3 bloggers each time to carry on with the challenge.

And the nominees are (you don’t have to participate really, I just wanted to mention you that’s all):

Lost in the Bermuda Triangle

From Hiding to Blogging

The Girl in Glasses

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A little background on the photo.

That is me, yes, yours truly, rappelling down a waterfall in the Philippines. That was one of our many unforgettable adventures and I am so glad I did it! Fear did not win that day.

Gone Glacier Hiking (and eight other fun facts about glaciers)

I haven’t done a travel post in awhile. Since our Philippine trip last year, we haven’t really traveled anywhere else, after having declared an “indefinite self imposed travel ban” to recover on finances and credit card expenses. (Because we have to work to travel, ugh, and also mostly due to poor money management, I know, I know…) So, I reckon it is high time I bring back memories and exciting stories of our Alaska adventure, where everything is set against a backdrop of Mother Nature in her full awesome glory!

One of the thrill seeking activities we did was glacier hiking. (MOST of the activities we did in Alaska involved some sort of adrenaline rush in one way or another.) Our group of seven friends who traveled from Florida to Vancouver to Alaska was more of the intrepid crazy kind who would literally jump at the thought of doing anything fun, the more physically and mentally challenging, the better.

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We weren’t satisfied with the numerous glaciers that we have seen from afar while on the cruise, we wanted to get up close and personal with it, play on it, step on it, learn from it, BE ON IT.

Here are some icy tidbits about glaciers:

1. A glacier is a large moving river of ice formed many years ago, sometimes centuries! Imagine what it is like stepping on something so old and cold that is slowly evolving and carving out the landscape as it slowly traverses along the way.

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Matanuska glacier

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2. Why is a glacier blue? Because the dense ice of the glacier absorbs every other color of the spectrum except blue. The thicker the ice, the bluer it looks.

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3. Glaciers can be dirty too! Because it is moving, it scrapes away rocks and soil beneath its surface hence, the dirt (along with air and other tiny animals) gets trapped in this massive icy river, sometimes forming different layers.

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4.  You get to see pretty “cool” stuff such as crevasses, seracs, moulins and ice caves. Take your (ice) pick.      

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Crevasse, a deep open crack in a glacier
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Serac, a block or column of glacial ice  
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Seracs are also formed by intersecting crevasses on a glacier
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Moulin, a hole in the ice where water enters from the surface
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Ice cave, self explanatory 🙂

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5. So how do you walk on ice? First, you need water proof hiking boots. Then you need these mean looking foot wear… No slipping allowed!

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Crampons are an ice walker’s best friend! 
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Our guide had the sharpest and meanest looking crampons!

6. Bet you haven’t tasted glacier water yet?

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7. The different glacier surfaces we’ve hiked on look like this…

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8. Best of all, be cool (literally and figuratively) and bring a sense of adventure with you!

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“How not to Get Off a Platform” [Another Short Video]

Okay, this one is hilarious!!! This was the very last challenge after all the grueling, arm-hurting, body-hanging, log-hugging challenges that we did. Stepping off a platform.

I would like to believe that I am an adrenaline junkie, a daredevil in a not so crazy way. But this one tops the cake. Memories of jumping off a 30 ft cliff into a pool of water in the Philippines come rushing to my mind. I was paralyzed with fear, literally. Someone almost pushed me off the ledge because it took me, I think, about 15 minutes before I jumped. Everyone was looking at me, either cheering me on to jump or telling me it’s okay if I don’t. But I did jump for the life of me to save my reputation.

Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

Unlike the Philippines, this time, as you can see, I didn’t jump voluntarily. Many thanks to the brave soul who dared “push” me. Without him, I would probably be still up there debating with myself internally. Hehe.

Pushing yourself to your limits, thinking outside your box and challenging your body to what it can do always has this feel good effect on me. No matter how tired or hungry or angry I am.

I did finish the trail, YAY!!!

“How To Walk Through a Rope Loop and Look Graceful Doing it” [A Short Video]

So this is part two of my “adventure” blog. I had to email my best friend in Connecticut to send me the video that she took of me being pushed off the platform. Little did I know (and remember) that there was another video she took of me while high up doing the rope loops. I don’t know what they are technically called, rope loops sounded descriptive enough. This was on a more difficult trail, not THE most difficult one, but, as you can see, it was such a huge challenge! Do I make it look easy enough like I was floating on air? HAHA! Go ahead and try it.

The video itself, is raw and unedited, as I do not have the video editing skills, yet. I do not know if I will have the patience to learn it as I just found out that I cannot upload videos directly to wordpress without buying extra video space. And I am not yet ready to do that. I am enjoying my FREE wordpress account right now. To be able to upload these videos, I had to go to YouTube, open an account and upload them there first before I can even post it here. Whew! That just goes to show how technically-challenged I am! LOL!!!

Anyway, enjoy the video! You can laugh at me too, I’d really like that.

 

 

 

Up, Up in the Trees: The Adventure Park Experience

Fun and exciting things happen when you have three bottles of wine and three ladies plotting over the dinner table as to what to do the following day….

The masterminds

Hangover or not, the next morning, we woke up bright and early to bring the whole herd to this adventure place at Bridgeport, Connecticut (This was when I was doing travel nursing earlier this year). The Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum is a park for the outdoor lovers and the thrill seekers. The minute I walked into its entrance, saw all the tall trees surrounding me with the wires and the ropes, I knew I would love this place!

I’ve had experience zip lining before in the Philippines on what was reputed to be Asia’s longest dual zip line at 840 meters with an elevation of 4500 feet above sea level. Throw in all the figures for added bragging rights! Now, that was something else. You felt like Superman for a few exhilarating minutes.

Whizzing past tree tops at Dahilayan Adventure Park in the Philippines
Whizzing past tree tops at Dahilayan Adventure Park in the Philippines

So when my friend mentioned going zip lining here I thought it was just literally nothing but zip lines. But, no, I was wrong. It was more than that. This place is also an aerial ropes course where platforms are built up in the trees and interconnected by bridges or cables in varying designs and heights. It definitely is not for the faint of heart.

After registering, we were given harnesses and gloves and then proceeded to the briefing area. The 15 minute or so orientation showed you how to work your carabineers which was a little tricky at first because I had to get used to twisting and turning them this way and that to lock and unlock. You need to be really sure you do it the right way because this is what is holding you and keeping you from falling 10-20 feet off the ground!

By then, the place was already packed with kids of all ages. No fears, no worries. All excited to climb and fly through the trees. I do not have a fear of heights. In fact, I love being way up high and seeing everything down below me from a different perspective. But this time, I had my concerns. Once you are on the main platform, you chose a trail based on its level of difficulty, from beginner to advanced, much like skiing, with different colors to mark them. And then you are on your own. The staff are all scattered through out the park and can verbally guide and support you from down below while you are up there having trouble navigating or completing a particular challenge. I’m sure they can go up too and help you if you get stuck somewhere.

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Of course, we tried the easiest first as a warm up and then proceeded to the next level. This time, with more balancing skills and upper body strength needed. It doesn’t help if all of you are giggling while hanging on to a trapeze trying to swing to get to the platform across. However which way you do it, as long as you get it done.

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We eventually eased our way to the second most difficult trail. This was also our last one for the day. No, I refused to do the double black trail because just the previous trails alone proved to be such a physical challenge! I had such poor upper body and arm strength that by that time, I was already exhausted. I wished there were more zip lines.

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This is EASY!
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This one is NOT. By far, the hardest for me.
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Like a giant spider web

In the end, we all had an amazing day. I ended the challenge by being pushed off a platform! Regardless, it was a “necessary evil.” I don’t have a lot of pictures because I didn’t bring my camera along and I left my cell phone on purpose because I didn’t want to be distracted when I was up high in the trees. Thank you to my wonderful friends who provided me with the photos! And thank you guys for this adrenaline pumping experience. This definitely won’t be my last.

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PS: The next day I had so many bruises on my arms to prove that I had such a grand time!