Today, the group woke up at Lavas Tacotal in Arenal after a relaxing night in the hot springs just below the volcano. We ate breakfast at the resort, consisting of rice, beans, eggs, toast, pineapple, plantains, and a cup of fresh mixed fruit juice to wash it down. We then loaded our suitcases atop of the van and headed to our next destination, La Quinta, located in Sarapiqui, a small rural location in the north central lowlands of Costa Rica, which was our shortest ride yet. On our way, we stopped by a small souvenir and ice cream shop, where they had a huge family of iguanas staying outside on the patio. The group was able to get close enough for pictures and even had one member of the group, Brandon, hold one of the iguanas in his arms for a picture, then wound up getting bit by one on the hand. A couple of the members bought a unique flavor of ice cream made from a cactus fruit at the parlor, tasting very similar to raspberry. We left from there and finished our journey to La Quinta, arriving around 11:30 a.m., just before lunch. We had the option of grilled chicken or tilapia, along with rice, mixed vegetables, and fresh juiced cas.
After lunch, we had the option of either white water rafting or exploring the nearby area, where there was a river, lagoon of cayman, and a rain forest with exotic poison dart frogs, sloths, howler monkeys, and many more species of fauna and flora to experience. Two of the members in the group decided to go white water rafting along the Sarapiqui, where the saw many toucans and other birds, along with a chance to cliff dive off a 30 foot rock with a Tarzan swing into the water. Back at the resort, the rest of the members explored the river, bareback rafting down the rapids, instigating an intense verbal brawl with about 30 howler monkeys that started to surround the group through the trees. The rest of the group swam for a while at the pool until a storm arose, which caused horrible lightening, causing the power to go out for a short while.
One of the temporary workers of the resort, named Aaron, happened to be from North Carolina, is doing an internship as part of his degree program at Appalachian State in recreational management. He took one of the members, Brandon, on a very informational private tour through the resort, explaining the national leaf (sustainable tourism certification) system, and its importance to Costa Rica. He pointed out many features that have been implemented within the resort to become a ’5 Leaf’ resort, analogous to America’s ’5 Star’ hotels, but focused towards the environment, not the quality of stay, where the infrastructure, as well maintenance of the resort, factor in the leaf given. The resort is one of only around twenty, throughout all of Costa Rica, that has been certified as a ’5 leaf’ resort, making it a pristine resort to visit for tourists from all over the world. The development was also primarily an effort to reforest the river-adjacent land, where a huge investment was taken to rejuvenate and diversify the species within the area by creating a lagoon, along with a broad species of plants and trees to foster as much wildlife as possible.
As the storm settled in, we all congregated at the dining area for dinner, as we listened to lectures from our peers to inform us about their specific topics pertaining to the relevance of the area and our visit to the pineapple farm that we will have the next day. Kyle informed us about agroforestry, along with soil and water quality, while Nonnie and Taylor gave a speech on pineapples and their effect on the local community and environment. For dinner we had the option of tilapia, pork chops, or beef fajitas, aside mash potatoes, zucchini squash, and rice, with fresh cas juice to drink. After dinner, we then parted with an early night, where most of the group was settling down for bed around 10 p.m.
~ Brandon Hackney