Its 38 eruptions – the last one occurring in 1928 – produced highly rich sulphuric soil that to this day accounts for the great agricultural activity in the region.
|A load of palm nuts|
“Paz”, meaning peace, is the perfect name for such a tranquil place. Although privately owned, this former animal rescue preserve – is open to the public. Thirty-five kilometres of stone paths lead to various sections, including orchid gardens, butterfly bird, frog and wild cat habitats. Blue Morpho butterflies landed on me; macaws eyed me, and one hilarious black-bellied whistling duck seemed to want to converse with me.
How he found each creature was another feat; jungle animals shy away from human beings – except for white-faced monkey “gangs” – commonly referred to as the “Monkey Mafia” because they descend to the beach to steal your knapsack in the hope of finding food.
On the lava flow trail, my guide and I were taunted by the weird call of the Motezezuma Oriopendula and surreal plants like the guineo belong in Jurassic Park.
|The guineo plant|
Before leaving La Fortuna, I visited the Ecological Waterfall of Fortuna River. Climb down its 480 steps (don’t’ forget you have to climb back up), but it’s all worth it. Immerse yourself in the water at the falls and look up at the fall plunging 600 metres from above. It’s unforgettable.
|I made it down and then jumped in|
|Now I have to climb back up those stairs|
The most exciting excursion took me into the wetlands of Caño Negro River. Launching from Los Chiles, (where we later feasted on a classic “gallo pinto” meal), we meandered up the murky Rio Frio near Nicaragua. Garnets, herons, blue flycatchers and other amazing birds clustered alongside its banks.
|On the Cano Negro boat|
by the water’s edge were as thrilling as hearing the loud roar of a huge howler monkey nearby. Then again, that caiman was pretty scary too! Bring your binoculars.
“Pura Vida” – is the catch-all phrase constantly used by Costa Ricans when greeting and bidding adios to one another. It’s a sweet reminder for everyone to enjoy life in the purest of ways – protecting, preserving and cherishing the bounty this stunning country offers the world.