I've been here in La Fortuna for 3 days now. Everything here is pretty laid back, but the scenery has been outstanding! I took a guided hike to the Arenal Volcano (one of the world's top 10 most active volcanoes!). We saw all kinds of flowers and birds along the way up and then traced a portion of the 1968 lava flow (up until then they just thought that it was a mountain--no idea there was anything going on in there!).
Our guide was full of colorful descriptions (like how leaf cutter ants are not Chinese ants, even though they look like it--always working, never taking a break, or how the name of the orchid is the testicle flower). In the end we watched the sunset at the observatory to see if we could see any of the lava flowing and glowing in the evening light. Nope, no lava. (Turns out, the lava hasn't been flowing for pretty much the last year. They definitely don't tell you that bit of information until you get here. We did see some "young ash" though.)
The view was beautiful though and the company wasn't bad either--I met an Irish couple who've been traveling for the last 6 months who were full of good stories.
Overall, it's been a good experience. Pictures of La Fortuna and Arenal below.
Views of the Arenal Lake right behind the volcano. Turns out it is an artificial (dammed) lake which helps to irrigate the dry part of the country.
The tiny town is centered around the square the church is on. This is one of the least Catholic looking Catholic churches I've ever been in. They were having a celebration for the Conversion of San Paulo so I stopped in for mass.
Blurry picture, but these are leaf cutter ants! How fun!
These trees were in Jurassic Park. Apparently selling and growing these is big business in New Zealand these days.
The orchid is the official flower of Costa Rica
Another look at the lake from the top of the trail. (Nowadays you can't go up any further than this--3 hikers were killed by lava when they climbed up higher).
This one is a Lady's Slipper orchid (because it looks like a shoe)