We arrived at Houston (IAH) after our 5 hour drive from New Orleans. Why Houston? Well the flights were cheaper leaving from Houston International Airport. Our flight left for 10 p.m. and arrived in Costa Rica at 1 a.m. Everything was going great until we walked out of the airport and realized our driver did not show up, which left us stranded in Costa Rica at 1:30 a.m! While trying to remain calm we glanced over the parking lot and noticed we were surrounded by taxi drivers looking for passengers. Feeling a bit relieved, and yet apprehensive, we decided to call the hotel. We were told that there had been some sort of mix up with our reservations and the transportation guy had already gone home for the night, however if we were able to find a taxi they would reimburse us once we checked into our room. All I could think at that time was WOW, what a way to start a trip at 2 a.m. in a foreign country on Christmas Day without a ride to our hotel.
We eventually caught a taxi ride from a driver that had been following us around for about 15 minutes. Sounds crazy, I know but he turned out to be pretty cool and as we drove to Hotel Presidente, he gave us a brief run down on Costa Rica and the “Pura Vida” lifestyle. Needless to say, we made it safe to the hotel which was located in the heart of Downtown San Jose. The place was nice but you wouldn’t be able to tell by glancing at the buildings on the way there. Once we made it to the hotel our room was upgraded because of the inconvenience and after checking in we decided to go out for an early breakfast, which was a short walk from the hotel. By this time it was 2:30 a.m. and our first meal in Costa Rica was two meat pies from what looked like a corner store. After eating we took advantage of our upgrade and jumped into the Jacuzzi before going to bed.
Looking For Arenal Volcano
After breakfast, we picked up our rental and hit the road. We only had 4 hours to get to the Arenal Volcano before it closed, so time was of the essence. After driving for 3 1/2 hours we realized the guy at Avis put the wrong address into our GPS so we weren’t able to get the waterfall picture we wanted on Christmas Day. We ended up driving highway 142 around the Laguna de Arenal which is named after the Arenal Volcano. As we drove around we were able to get some great Christmas Pictures on the lagoon however, due to the clouds Arenal Volcano could not be seen, but the scene was majestic, none the less.
Following a quick photo opportunity, we were back on the road with only a few hours of daylight left which meant we had only a few hours left to drive while it was safe. It was extremely gloomy but we noticed the dark clouds were only over the Arenal Lagoon area. While not wanting to consider the day a complete lost we decide to get back on the road and head to Hacienda La Pacifica, a place we found on Trip-Advisor. Hacienda La Pacifica was located on a private nature reserve in one of the last dry tropical forests of the lowlands in Guanacaste. After a quick check-in we ran back out for Christmas Dinner in the nearest town which was a town by the name of Canas about 7 minutes away.
There wasn’t much open on Christmas Day but we came across Carniceria Mimi, which was nothing more than a small restaurant, butcher shop and a local soda. This was our real first hot meal and it was considered a typical Costa Rican meal which consisted of rice, roasted chicken breast and two tortillas. This meal hit the spot after running off fruit and chips for about 8 hours. The price of our dinner was $10 Dollars and we split our plate as usual.
Soon after dinner it was time to head back to the room, the drive to the room was an adventure within itself. Our room was located on the reserve so we had to drive through the dry jungle to get to our door. Once we arrived we saw our room for the first time and it was great, the decor was country rustic. After settling in we heard the Howler Monkeys and decided to grab our flashlights to see if we could spot any outside our room and after about a two minute walk into the dry jungle reserve, we came upon the tree in which the howls were coming from.
Although it was too dark to see any monkeys we did capture some sounds. We were also able to catch some deer walking with us. It was so dark that we could not see anything without our flashlights and when we turned the light toward the trees they were literally right on the side of us, that had to be the closest we have ever been to deer in the wild. They would normally run away; except these just stayed at a close distance, even as we approached. Once back in the room we both were exhausted and decided to call it a night.