The roads are busy with bus loads of tourists and like many group cycling tours, they do not like taking big groups along busy roads – too dangerous, too much paperwork! So we boarded the bus for a short journey to the dam at Lake Arenal, the largest man-made (human-made) lake in Costa Rica. Because of the lake, there is a hydro-electrics plant that produces electricity in combination with the many wind turbines on the hills. Together this produces 40% of the country’s energy. We were told that last year, Costa Rica was awarded the prize for being electrically carbon neutral but I can’t find out any information about it. Their ambitions for carbon neutrality are, however, worthy of praise – check out http://www.go100percent.org/cms/index.php?id=70&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=34 for more info.
Lakeside roads are not flat
The ride took the northern lake side road; sounds flat right? It was fine after the first massive incline. But then the first one is always the worst. The ride took us through rolling hills, rainforest and pastureland and we were treated to an up-close sighting of a coati. who was as interested in us as we were in it. The trouble with looking at wildlife on the side of the road is that cars aren’t always there for the same reason and they continue to fly past even though mad British tourists are wandering the carriageways! At our first break, we found a little bit of Switzerland, complete with ‘mountain railway’. Incongruous but it made me think of my daughter who has been working in Austria for 6 months and would soon be home.
At our next stop, we visited El Fogon de Mincho Restaurante to hear from the cafe owner who had lived through the volcanic eruption of Arenal. La Fortuna survived this devastasting eruption (hence its name) but the stories he told were very moving. It is always interesting listening to survivors.
Cycling uphill or a butterfly garden? Let me think…
Finishing 27km on an uphill stretch, I instantly began dripping once the air-cooling movement of the bike ceased. And so, faced with the suggestion of a further hard uphill 12 km, I politely declined. Instead, we spent 20 minutes in the cafe that was trying to set up a butterfly garden; the cafe owner enthusiastically showing us each egg and caterpillar that seemed to be very much part of the cafe’s clientele.
Those that had been brave – or mad – enough to continue cycling left us and we eventually caught up with them at the next cafe stop where we were treated to the sight of a howler monkey milling about on his own in a tree.