Costa Rica
Royal Corin Hotel

Friday 24th January 2014

Yesterday was a LONG day.

We were up at 5am for a 6.30am cab that got us to Heathrow at 8am. The United Airlines flight to Newark arrived there at about 6pm UK time, and we had to wait four hours for the seven hour onward flight to Costa Rica. It was about 6.30am UK time (half past midnight local time) when we finally turned in! We had to get up at 6am in order to have breakfast and leave the hotel at 8am, so we've been very sleepy today!

Our hotel is very impressive, set almost on the slopes of the Arenal volcano. All the rooms face the volcano, and the grounds, which are full of native trees and shrubs, have a series of warm water pools and jacuzzis, so I think I already know what Gill will want to do tomorrow morning!

Heading for the volcano. It's not very hot!

We're in a group of 21 British people who will all be on the same cruise next week. Today we all went by coach into the interior to visit the Poas Volcano, 'the largest active crater in the world, with frequent, geyser-like eruptions'. This was in cloud forest at nearly 3,000 metres. I'd felt unwell at 2,200 metres in Mexico City, and started to feel it coming on again today, but luckily by the evening we'd descended a long way and the problem went away.

We walked 600 metres through worsening cloud to the edge of the crater and saw . nothing at all! The whole landscape below us was covered in thick cloud and the air was heavy with moisture and sulphur fumes. We hung around for 20 minutes or so until our excellent guide said that he really didn't foresee the clouds dispersing for quite some time, so we gave up and left.

It might be a volcano, but we're cold and wet!
*This* is what we *should* be able to see
Stopping for refreshments. We're in Costa Rica so our choice is Coffee .. or Coffee

We stopped for refreshments 20 minutes later in bright sunshine and no cloud at all in the gardens of a rural restaurant. The climate is so perfect, with lots of rain and lots of sunshine, and the soil seems very fertile, so the gardens were a delight to walk around. The best bit was that the owner had hung lots of humming-bird feeders in the trees and shrubs, so we saw several of these tiny, gorgeous creatures up close. Unfortunately, they dash around so quickly that they're almost impossible to photograph.

We then set off again for another hour to a town called Sarchi, 'the most important hotspot of Costa Rican handicrafts', where we also had lunch which, at £10 a head, was amazing value, as were the locally-made items.

Bright sunshine and clear blue skies

Hummingbird feeders - you can just see a flash of iridescent blue as the tiny bird flies away
A traditional Costa Rican cart
When we set off again it was very difficult to stay awake for the two and a half hour journey to tonight's hotel, but halfway through it we were all suddenly wide awake when the driver spotted a two-toed sloth asleep in a tree beside the road. We all piled out to take photos and were amazed how close we managed to get without disturbing it. So, that was quite a day humming-birds AND a sloth, in the wild as well! We also saw a few vultures wheeling around in the sky.
Traditional Costa Rican art
A two-toed sloth!!
And now a three-toed sloth!!

Our room at the Royal Corin Hotel

Costa Rica is lush and green, and absolutely packed with exotic wildlife, it seems. It feels like a very friendly, peaceful and welcoming place, and we can't wait to see more of it!

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