Rio Celeste means Celestial River. Celestial is a term given to Rivers when they turn amazingly turquoise blue. So naturally when you swim in an amazingly turquoise blue river, you expect to receive everlasting life. Right? Well, I can't say I didn't think about it when we signed up for the Rio Celeste Hike. And believe me, it WAS celestial in many ways, but I'm still nowhere near immortal. I guess I'll leave the quest for the holy grail to another trip.
We started this adventure by taking a 1.5 hour shuttle ride to the national park. Along the way, we saw Guanacaste at it's finest.
|Photo by Aspen Uzleman|
|Photo by Aspen Uzleman|
Seriously, I could NOT stop looking out my window! There were so many beautiful scenes. I wish I had taken more pictures. Along the way our guide told us all about Costa Rica and the native people in the land. I was sad to find out that while Costa Rica has a great economy, the people are still very poor. Minimum wage in Costa Rica is $1-2 dollars an hour! Most of the Tico's live off tips from tourists (if they are lucky enough to be in a town with a lot of tourism). Yet they still some of the most appreciative people I have ever met. I swear I never saw a surly face. Not once! (Unless of course you count the taxi drivers. They have no shame I tell you...)
During the drive we saw quite a few pineapple plantations. What a sight! The plantations are a true blessing and curse to Costa Rica. While they have provided plenty of income to the country, many of the farmers have used harsh chemicals and growth enhancers in their farming practices. Of course this is harmful to the environment and kills of many species of plants and animals. However, now that many companies will only buy organic pineapples, farmers are being forced to change their ways.
Once we got closer to the national park and trail head, we had a chance to stop and see this gigantic tree!
Ok, botany lesson time. See all the spiky green plants growing on the tree? Those are bromeliads. Bromeliads are common houseplants in America, but here they spring up everywhere. Literally! Bromeliads are fascinating because they create their own soil. While sitting on the tree, they collect the falling leaves, let them decompose, and make soil out of them. Talk about recycling gurus.
But the real reason we took pictures of this particular tree is because of those gargantuan gambos! Gambos (I think that is how you spell it...) are the large flares that stem from the roots and support these trees. Gambos indicate excellent wood and great tree structure. It is a spectacular sight.
Here Rachel and I are standing with our tour guide. Alfred (or Alfredo as we called him) graduated college with an eco-tourism degree. He plans on becoming an eco-tourism professor one day. I personally thing he also may have made plans to become Rachel's husband one day. What a charmer he was! Tee hee.
See... told ya! (May I point out the stabilizing hand on Rachel's side?)
You have permission to think I look particularly ragged. I think we were running on zero to no sleep. But who cares! We were in Costa Rica BAY-BEE!!
Aaaaanyway, we had 3 legs to our trip. Our first stop was at the celestial waterfall. Can you believe this water!?
As much as we wanted to stay and swim in the fountain of youth, we had to continue on to our next stop. Did someone say HOT SPRINGS!?
Well, not without the first real mis-hap of the trip of course. Note: don't try to take pictures and walk on a plank bridge at the same time. Fail.
Future engagement picture? Maaaaybe :)
And then there were HOT SPRINGS!!
Oops! I don't have any pictures of the hot springs. Dang it. Maybe it's because they were so utterly unattractive that I was pretty sure I would lose friends over it. But you get the idea. Hot. Springs. Done and done.
So last leg of the trip was seeing where clear water celestially transforms. That line is where the volcanic sulfuric gas is released, which cases the river to turn blue. Um... blue darts anyone? JUST KIDDIN'! But really, it was truly amazing to see.
Check out those cuties!! The two girls on the left were from Argentina and joined us for our trek. They were hilarious! It wouldn't have been the same without them.
On our way back, we found some more great photo moments. Check it. May they make up for any lack of hot spring pictures you felt robbed of.
Doesn't this one capture the spirit of Indiana Jones!? Heck yes it does! Were's my hat!?
Well, since we couldn't find any more adventure, so we drove home. Another long 2 hours of uncomfortable sleep. But we got another beautiful view of the Arenal Volcano right before we reached La Fortuna.
I wish I was like the Volcano. She sure photographs great and any angle!
Now I'd like to show you some pictures from the little town of La Fortuna. It was sooo charming. We went in every night for dinner and did lots of our shopping here.
Typical souvenir shops. They all sold the same thing, so basically it was a price war. It you're willing to hunt, then you will win.
Here is a another shop and the owner. Too cute right?
And my favorite: the local park. It was the only piece of land I saw that was purposely landscaped. But they did a magnificent job. I always meant to take more pictures, but this what we got. It was a beautiful park in front of a beautiful church. The towns people gathered there every night to relaxed and mingle. I loved the feel of it all.
So we only had one day left in La Fortuna. And I know what you are thinking, "Jenny, you STILL haven't done the ONE THING that EVERYONE DOES in Costa Rica!" I know! I know! Tomorrow you will get a good look at the ZIP LINE. I've got pictures of videos up the wazoo. Be prepared to fly through the canopy of amazement!