Who said there was a volcano here?

Yesterday we drove from San Jose to Nuevo Arenal where we settled in to a casita in the jungle for five days. The unit is comfortable, if small, and there are a lot of birds of various sizes, shapes and colors. Paula took some great photos that she will be posting tonight. My photos are not good. In fact they were so bad that I’ve actually deleted them. Well, not really. I didn’t take any.

Instead I was pondering how this is supposed to be the dry season in Costa Rica when it has been raining almost continuously since we got to Nuevo Arenal. More on that later.

We asked our host where we could find Arenal Viejo. (Suddenly I wonder why the adjective nuevo (new) precede the proper noun and the adjective viejo (old) follows it?) Be that as it may, we found that the original Arenal is now at the bottom of the lake that bears its name, the same name as the nearby volcano.

At least we’ve been been told it is nearby, and there are numerous maps, guidebooks, internet sites, posters and calendars that attest to its existence. Here, for instance is a photo from the guidebook we brought along:

Arenal Volcano looms above the church in La Fortuna.

This, however, is what we saw when we went to La Fortuna today.

Photographic evidence that the Arenal Volcano is a hoax.

You can see the church, which is definitely there, but the supposed volcano is missing. Clearly this is a very well orchestrated and complex conspiracy, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why they would go through all the trouble.

Oh, Wait. Paula found my meds. I’ll get back to you on this.

I didn’t post yesterday, though Paula did. She did not include in her post however, that she negotiated an excellent deal renting a full sized SUV. I mean she got us this vehicle for less than half the current cost of renting a sedan during the high season. Given that she made the deal, it was appropriate that I “let” her drive. I had the opportunity to watch the passing landscape from the passenger side.

I am a passenger a handful of times in the last year, and make up for the lack of physical control with an endless stream of observations and instructions. This became especially problematic for us when Google Maps directed us to a shortcut using an officially “unknown” road. At least it would look like a road if it actually had a surface like a road, but this one was so filled with ruts and potholes that it was difficult to notice it was actually a slippery quagmire. “Watch out!!!” I calmly shouted. That was when Paula offered to “let” me walk the rest of the way.

Most of the roads we have been on have been good, mostly well paved with few potholes. In that regard they are better than most streets in Albuquerque. However, there are no shoulders, for the most part, and the edges of the pavement end with an unforgiving incline. The likelihood of recovering if the tires left the road is remote. And did I say the roads are narrow and that there are numerous one lane bridges? Pluswhich there are many areas with no center lines.

Today we drove from Nuevo Arenal to La Fortuna. It had been raining since we got here, and our host says it really hasn’t stopped raining since the rainy season ended in November. Clouds were low, and visibility was somewhere around 100 to 200 meters on the way to La Fortuna. The volume of rain coming down alternated between sheets and buckets.

During the drive I watched calmly from the passenger side, noting how close we were to the road’s edge while simultaneously watching oncoming cars, driven too fast for conditions, careen into our lane from around blind curves. My eeks and erks were hardly more than 90 decibles.

We arrived safely having traversed the 40 kilometers in slightly more than an hour. That’s 24 miles. The guide books warn the reader not to estimate drive times based on experience elsewhere, but I must say Dr Google has been spot on during the times we consulted it. (How does Google know you’ll be stuck behind a bus or gasoline tanker for twenty minutes?) Google Maps is one of the few remaining domains where Google does not do evil.

In La Fortuna I came up with another imponderable. There has been so much discussion about “cultural imperialism” and penetration of local economies by the evil global capitalist conglomerates. I’m wondering, though, whether the concerns about these economic and cultural developments include all the new age and countercultural stuff.

One might think that I am being a bit negative, and I probably am. I read an article on the internet alleging that most people lie about the quality of their vacations. Mostly, they argued, people overstate the good and understate the bad. I take the opposite track.

The rain has been a disappointment, primarily since we want to hike a number of trails in the national parks, spend a lot of time outdoors, and enjoy great views of this wonderful landscape. Perhaps we will be able to do so later this week, though the weather forecast is bleak. Meanwhile we are planning to go hiking tomorrow, rain or shine.

On the plus side, living in the desert we do not get to experience prolonged periods of rain. , Since it is not cold here, we can actually appreciate it. Plus the humidity is really nice, especially for my old man skin.

Enough for today. I’m hoping we’ll have some good images to share tomorrow.

8 thoughts on “Who said there was a volcano here?

  1. Linnea Hendrickson January 20, 2020 / 10:32 pm

    Charlie, I can identify with so much of this! You had me chuckling in recognition! Keep up the good work!


  2. Jim January 21, 2020 / 4:01 am

    May the Meds be with you 😉 Warm rain is indeed delicious; hope you see some sunshine after the meds.


  3. Jerry Hoogerwerf January 21, 2020 / 6:31 am

    I can testify to the existence of the Arenal volcano. I climbed it prior to the eruption in 1968. My Peace Corps years were near La Fortuna in the small town of Chachagua. Conditions were much different then as it was remote and tourist free.


    • Charlie January 21, 2020 / 5:33 am

      I never expected that you would join such a dastardly conspiracy. 🤗


      • Jerry January 21, 2020 / 9:08 am

        Cultural imperialism perhaps-conspiracy no.


  4. Jerry January 21, 2020 / 9:59 am

    Cultural imperialism perhaps- conspiracy I don’t think so.


  5. pamela January 25, 2020 / 5:30 pm

    [Animated GIF]

    With Gratitude, Pamela




  6. Wade Stevens January 25, 2020 / 10:11 pm

    Interesting Title! “Who Said There Was A Volcano Here?” The last time I heard someone say that phrase was my friend Mark as he stood on the slopes of Mt. St Helens. This wad right before he was transformed into a substance resembling fried cat litter.


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