Our first stop of the day was at the Britt coffee plantation, where we went on a coffee tour. This unique experience took us through the process of making coffee, from planting the coffee seed to brewing the coffee, all through a role play by our tour guides. We learned that the coffee seed, when planted, grew into a plant and took 3-4 years to harvest fruits, which were then fermented, dried, hulled (to remove the dried husk), separated by shape and size, tasted by experts called “cuppers”, roasted, grinded and finally brewed! After learning about Britt’s work and the process of making coffee, we went to the souvenir store and drank free samples of coffee, ranging by roast gradient (mild, medium, or dark with different percentages).
We head off to La Fortuna, our destination for the evening. La Fortuna is a town in the Arenal Region whose main attractions include the Arenal Volcano, which is an active volcano that serves as La Fortuna’s scenic background! The drive to La Fortuna was very scenic, we drove up the hills and had a great view of the lush green valleys, the varied flora and countless streams that gurgled below our road. On the way, we stopped to snap some pictures at Las Paz Waterfall, and took pictures of San Fernando Waterfall (we saw the two big waterfalls within 10 minutes driving distance!).
Before La Fortuna, we all donated money and stopped at a local supermarket to buy toys, stationery supplies and food for La Fortuna’ orphanage. At the orphanage, we saw many children ranging from ages 3 to 11 running around and playing in their backyard. Though there was a language barrier, we all managed to have great fun by playing soccer and chasing them around. We even bonded over online games on our phones! The caretakers at the orphanage told us that children, after the age of 11, were moved to another orphanage—hence all the children were quite young. They also thanked us for the donations, as they have nearly 20 mouths to feed everyday.
After visiting the orphanage, and saying goodbye to all the children (Adios!), we reached our hotel for the next two nights, Las Cabanitas.
Las Cabanitas had several cabins, and right outside the cabins stood hedges and plants and flowers of various types. We ate dinner at the open-air restaurant/lobby, where we also cut pastries that we had secretly bought for our troop leader, whose birthday was that day. Then, we surprised her by singing to her with our phone flashlights as candles. After the celebration, we retired to our rooms. Returning back to our rooms was an adventure of its own. We saw a frog croaking on the sidewalk, bats swooping low and high and heard loud cicadas making noise in the hedges. In our room, we shooed away the moths that were attracted to light, and the bugs on the curtains and bed.
We woke up at 6:00 am, quickly packed and went to the lobby at 6:30, where we dropped our luggage in the bus, and headed to Denny’s for breakfast.
Our plan for the was reach Arenal Region by the end of the day, after stopping at several attraction. San Jose was located in the Central Valley of Costa Rica, while Arenal Region lay north.
Our second stop was at Poas Volcano National Park, which was one of the 6 active volcanoes in Costa Rica! The last time it had erupted was in 2009, where the earthquake that followed (6.2 magnitude) destroyed the road leading to the Volcano! We hiked up a mile to the volcano view point, and were amazed by the crater size and the steam and fog rolling out of the volcano. After several photos, we headed back to the bus and stopped for lunch.
We ate lunch at a local restaurant, where they served gallo pinto (a dish that had quickly become my favorite), fried plantains, chicken, fried vegetables and a delicious strawberry milkshake. We were all very satisfied after this huge meal!