The drive from Manuel Antonio to Arenal started well. On the highway from Quepos to Jaco, I got pulled over for speeding by a state policia. A close retelling of this conversation, translated from spanish, follows (the part of the state trooper is played by an older, more distinguished Eric Estrada)
"Can I see your license and passport?" (a stern question, posed by a portly dark skinned man with pink cheeks)
"Of course!" (uncharacteristically cheery, the copper is suspicious)
"Where are you headed?"
(unnecessarily detailed description of our trip)
"I'm stopping you because you were going 92 in a 60 zone" (this was true, although KPH, not MPH, which is less exciting)
"Oh, well I was trying to pass that bus back there, I apologize for that" (this is a lie)
"Well, it's going to result in a fine. A ticket."
(nodding) "Of course. Well, just write it up for me and I'll take care of it."
(long stare) "Well, you're going to have to go to either the bank or the car rental place to pay for this, and the rental place will charge you extra to do it."
"That's fine, we're going to be here a while longer. I'm studying here for a few months at the University near San Jose." (another lie)
"Well, let me tell you something. I want to help you out."
"I won't write you a ticket, but you need to slow down. This is the number one road for fatal car crashes."
"Oh I know, I've been reading about them in the newspapers." (this is true)
Then we sped away, I kissed my girl, I put my pilot's goggles back on and put the top down (none of this is true). Amy thinks he wanted me to bribe him, and that might have made for a better story. How does one even do that? Do I do the handshake thing like you would a host when you're trying to get a table at a restaurant? And how much would I offer? I'm not fit for a life of crime.
After not creating an international incident, we drove north back to Orotina. On the map below, you can see a purple line where we should have gone, were it not for road construction that sent us on a detour to the right. This little setback set us back around 2 hours, as we found roads that went from paved, to potholed, to trails, to a pile of mud in someone's backyard. Lather, rinse, repeat. This happened to us over and over as we were stuck in these little mountain towns south of San Ramon. A closer look at the inset map gives a better idea of what transpired, without including all of the dead ends or cursing that was going on.
highway through hell
Eventually, we made it through and arrived at Los Lagos, really only by luck. The hotel was at the base of Volcano Arenal, which means we have learned absolutely nothing from the tragedy of Pompeii. This part is actually not funny; they used to have a cabin or two much closer to the volcano itself, until an avalanche of lava a few years ago ended up killing a guide and some other people. So they no longer rent that room. The only tragedy connected to our room was that some kind of critter kept running across the roof at night and it gave me nightmares. Other than that, the swim-up bar made it totally worth the risk.
Upon arriving in Arenal, we dumped our belongings in the room and headed to the swim up bar (!) which borders the heated pool. We alternated between this pool and another which was a bit chilly but boasted a long water slide. This night satisfied my recent (and foolish) desire to visit Raging Waters.