The next stop for me is La Fortuna, home of the Arenal Volcano. This is a volcano that last erupted in 1968 – so it is still considered to be an active volcano. It is really stunning.. Especially when the view is clear.
But first, I did another homestay in Juanilama in Santa Rosa de Pocosol. I needed to practice my Espanol! Now this was just as amazing as my previous homestay. This one – like every other activity in Costa Rica was a bit more refined and organised. My host family was super friendly – and yes, they didn’t speak English so my Spanish did get better.
Juanilama is a community that is super organised – they help themselves, the environment and their community. There are 25 families, all growing different crops. Everything is organic, a rarity in Costa Rica, which is becoming the biggest user of pesticides in the world due to their pineapple and banana plantations. 😦
We had a wonderful tour of some of their mini ‘plantations’ – in their back gardens. Sandra explained everything – she leads the community and ensures that all is in order. She’s very good at it – and a very charming lady.
Crops grown vary from papaya to pepper. They organised lunch – a beautiful spread, however I could only have one dish..
Thankfully the veggie dish was excellent, so I had loads of that with tortillas and this killer pickle (the usual – carrot, cauliflower, chilli). Really tasty and fresh and surprisingly filling.
Dinner for me was Casado, (with a chicken meatball soup for the meaties) with more of that pickle. It was so full of flavour, I couldn’t get over that salad. DELISH!
They also put on a show for us – kids from the local school showing us traditional Costa Rican dancing. And yes, at some point we all joined in!
And for breakfast? The sweetest organic pineapple. LUSH. There was also rice and beans – or rather gallo pinto.
Very delicious. I tried the coffee. 😦 As for accommodation? See for yourself – really good, the house was clean and we are not the only ones who enjoyed the space!!!
I had a whale of a time here. One of the best evenings full of laughter and banter – in broken English and Spanish. At the end of the day we are all the same! The locals were so friendly and accomodating and it was a lot of fun. They take in volunteers to help to build the community – if I had my way I would come back and stay here and do just that. But onward to La Fortuna for now.
Where am I staying?
In La Fortuna, once again, a hotel in a really good location – Arenal Rabfer, 2 blocks away from the main square.
This place has all the mod cons – pool, air conditioning, hair dryer, big room so, breakfast included – it was a lovely space.
- Grubiness factor – non existent. Clean and lovely. Nice smelling sheets and towels.
- Bed – 8/10. Comfortable enough – I had three single beds in my room 🙂
- Shower – 9/10. Hot and powerful. Thank you very much.
What did I eat?
Breakfast at the hotel was the usual spread. Fruit, coffee, tea and juice to start.
Dare I say that I am really not enjoying the coffee here – I just find it too rough and bitter. I’ve been drinking my herbal tea instead. Bring me some Guatemalan coffee please! My avocados that I bought a few days ago finally ripened – so I had avo on toast one morning (no pic!), the next day – pancakes sin huevos and leche!!! They used orange juice instead – something I will be doing back home. Photo is not the most appealing, but topped with some of the peanut and almond butter I found in the town centre (whoooo!) it was a wonderful breakfast.
My lunch was at Organico Fortuna – an amazing restaurant just off the main square. I will tell you now. GO HERE. Don’t think twice. Don’t think at all. Just go.
The first time I had a green smoothie – no sugar – and check out the bamboo straw.. love it!
There were so many options but I wanted something pretty different to what I’ve been having so I went for the falafel burger – which came with a few slides of roast potato and dried fruit. They have a homemade salsa picante which was excellent. And so was the burger. Home made bread. Juicy. Packed with veggies. Loved loved loved it.
Next day? Back again for the quinoa burger and their homemade kombucha.
The burger was just as good (falafel wins though), however I found the kombucha very sweet. And then. After I was very satisfied with my meal, I was told thy do vegan ice cream! Oh my word. How delicious!
Better than the one I had in Mexico. Cocoa with nibs. So so so creamy and tasty.
Dinner one night was at a local restaurant – can’t remember the name. I went for veggies, salad and rice. Don’t know why. It was just as dull as it sounded. And they charged me a truckload for 1/2 a teeny avocado!
The quinoa burger and ice cream were so filling I didn’t have dinner the next night.
Other things? Well, my go to snacks are those plantain crisps. I try and go for the locally made ones as they are not only cheaper but they have less crap in them – no preservatives or MSG.
Sweet stuff is harder to come by for me – there is enough of it but usually stuff I can’t have. Like this.
But I came across this – something I would ever have back home but am thoroughly enjoying eating here (in small doses). Cane sugar and sesame coated peanuts. Sugar rush central!
I did try and give the coffee another go at one of the best places – my coffee. Looked good. But no. Just don’t like it.
What did I do?
Walked around the town as usual. Prettier than most other towns, lots of beautiful flowers, a pretty church, a cool square, and the volcano in the background. Nice.
Lots of expensive souvenirs shops with stuff you wonder who buys – not I. Lots of wooden stuff. I have done almost no shopping here.
I did also walk around the markets – love the colours!
On the way to La Fortuna we drove past an iguana hangout – well, a restaurant overlooking trees full of iguanas. Very cool. They are amazing looking creatures. Absolutely breathtaking.
Hanging bridges which are supposed to be the highlight of the area. A shock to the system – there were other tourists around! The audacity! Views = excellent. Hanging bridges = wobbly. Max of 15 people and if you have dodgy balance or a fear of heights this is not the place for you!
The views, flora and fauna was really beautiful.
We got to see more birdies – trogons, an owl and the big black one is a cormorant! And for those eagle eyes among you – get your mind of the gutter. That is part of the male palm tree. As you would expect. 😜
We also saw a little snake, but that was really it in terms of wildlife. The lasting memory of the hanging bridges of La Fortuna is the human traffic and queuing to get onto the bridges. As for the wildlife, everyday is different – so I won’t whine any more.
I didn’t do any other strenous activities – some people went on a volcano hike – they said it was super exhausting but very worth it. My non strenuous activity was chilling in hot springs. Ok. Not chilling – you can’t really chill in 52 degrees C can you?
Thanks to the volcanoes there are lots of hot springs in the area, we went to Paradise Hot Springs, $28 entrance and spent about 2.5 hours there – could have spent more. There are 5 pools of varying temperatures – very hot to very comfortable.
It was super fun, walking around and trying the pools out, very relaxing. Definitely recommend this – and we did the right thing going in the evening. Not sure how anyone would sit in a hot spring pool on a hot day!
All in all, I enjoyed La Fortuna. It seems like every town is more expensive and busy than the previous on, but it also means that they are more modern. I’m still assessing how I feel about the towns and places in general, it has been hit and miss. What is amazing 100% of the time is the flora and fauna and wildlife – love it! ❤️