River Cruise at Porto Viejo, Pineapple Farm Tour, and a Hotel Near a Volcano

The day after white water rafting on the Sarapiqui, we checked out of the Selva Verde Lodge and rode to Porto Viejo to board a small cruise boat. William pointed out anhinga, turtles, iguana, snowy egrets, cecropia, fig trees, howler monkeys, black vultures, blue heron, and chilamate trees.

Putting Down Roots
The habit of this tree is to drop its roots into the water – very common strategy in Costa Rica
Howler Monkey
Howler Monkey (rafting tour guide photo)
Chilamate Tree
Chilamate Tree (from Wikimedia commons). The fenceposts in front are what is left of live trees, planted along the road.

There was evidence of recent flooding – many tree trunks and branches in the river. The depth of the water is quite variable due to changes in the amount of rainfall.

Iguana
Iguana looking for a mate

We took a detour up a tributary that we had passed on our rafting tour, and saw a male iguana (orange in mating mode) on the bank.

We also passed under a suspension bridge and waved at the tourists.

SuspensionBridge
Hanging bridge

After the boat tour we had lunch at a cafeteria in town and then moved on to an organic pineapple plantation tour. We had a droll guide named Michael, who spoke excellent English (there are pictures of him on the tour website linked here). We took  video of our tractor trailer ride through fields, seeing plants at various stages of development. It was abundantly clear that this is a difficult, labor-intensive crop. The tractor stopped for a moment for a brief chat with some of the workers who were harvesting pineapples. Most were young men from Nicaragua, and they were well wrapped in scarves to protect themselves from the sun. Decidedly, we will not take pineapple for granted in the future!We had piña coladas and snacks after the tour.

Pina Coladas
Michael making piña coladas

Carlos then drove us to the town of Fortuna to stay at the Manoa Arenal Hotel, where our room was half of a substantial cottage, with a large patio, on an expansive campus. All the rooms had views of the Arenal volcano, which last erupted in 1968. We did not climb this, but if we had we would not have been allowed to be close to the mouth of the volcano anyway. I thought it was quite a risk to take, to live so close to an active volcano, and even more to build a modern luxury hotel so soon after the last eruption.

ArenalVolcanoClearDay
Arenal Volcano (Wikipedia). When we were there the clouds obscured the top half

We had an evening lecture on chocolate, followed by a very good dinner en groupe at the hotel restaurant, called El Saca. Every now and then the lights in the dining room went out. Outage? No. This was to make the flambés more spectacular!

What had begun with a quiet river cruise ended at a modern restaurant within killing distance of a volcano. Pretty, interesting day!

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