Sunday, August 20, 2017

Costa Rica- La Fortuna

Last Thanksgiving, Hector and I decided that it was time to escape and go somewhere really cool! We decided on Costa Rica and it was amazing! I wish we had had more time to be there but maybe we can go back someday. There are three parts to this post. Part 1- Tortuguero is here and Part 3-Manuel Antonio is here.

After Tortuguero, we rented a car to drive down to central Costa Rica...with the volcanoes! It was only supposed to take us 2.5 hours but somehow we got lost and it took us an extra hour. Of course this area was replete with hot springs so we spent our first evening doing that- with dinner included!

The next morning we got up early to do lots of jungle things! We had planned a hike and a zip line tour for the day, but when we got up there, it was raining. We did the hike...

 This was the one moment the clouds broke a bit- as we            The start of the hike!
were going up the cable car to reach the top.

....but it was super wet and we got soaked! We saw two vipers, because we got lucky. We also saw a tarantula's pincers because our guide showed us his hidey hole, and we saw a teeny forest frog. We did see a waterfall but I didn't even manage to get a good picture! By the time we got back we were totally over the rain and the mountain so we cancelled our zip line tour. 

Instead, we found a hike to a waterfall that was lower on the mountain so we went to do that because it wasn't raining there. The hike was to take stairs from the top of a canyon down to the was quite a lot of stairs!

And they had an orchids garden so I spent ages taking pictures of these beautiful and varied flowers!

The next day it was raining so hard we decided to stay another night instead of trying to drive on to Manuel Antonio with sketchy roads and so much rain. They upgraded us to a nicer room with a jacuzzi in it! And we finally got to see almost all of the volcano!

Volcan Arenal

 Since it was still rainy, we decided to go visit a chocolate farm that gave tours. The family was super nice and the tour was amazing and we learned everything about making chocolate- and stuffed our faces in the meantime! They gave us lychee, papaya, and Costa Rican oranges straight from their fruit trees outside of the house. Then they showed us how they squeeze the sugar cane that they also grow right there on the farm:

Then they gave us a full glass of sugar juice to drink! 

Here are the cacao trees:

 Then they pick these pods off and cut them open with a machete. The fruit inside can be eaten and is sweet. They take the fruit out, white stuff and all, and ferment it in a bucket for 5 days.

 Then they dry it out in a green house for two weeks! After that they have to break the shell off using a big heavy log, and they toss the bits up in the air to get the shell to blow away. Then you have chocolate nibs!

After, they take the nibs and grind them up twice with this machine. And they can make hot chocolate! He even gave us fresh peppercorns to put in it if we wanted- like the Aztecs did! I didn't put much sugar in mine and it tasted really bitter- almost like coffee. They shared chocolate bars with us that they had made- with only chocolate nibs and sugar cane juice! 

The next day we drove to Manuel be continued! If you missed Part 1- Tortuguero, check it out here. Part 3- Manuel Antonio is now here!

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