Saturday, March 1, 2014

Costa Rica

Well, I've had a busy couple of weeks.
A couple of weeks ago I had a busy week trying to prepare everything before going to Costa Rica and also trying to do some fun legal stuff for living here for the year.  In addition, the director from the women's shelter I volunteer at was here with a group for the week.  A lot of great experiences, but I started my week into going to Costa Rica tired.

My permission to stay in El Salvador is as a tourist for 90 days.  So, every 90 days I have to leave the country in order to re-enter and get another 90 days.  Unfortunately this is complicated because there is an agreement between the countries surrounding El Salvador.  Guatemala, Honduras & Nicoragua have an agreement that a tourist visa for one of the 4 countries is good for all of them.  So I can use my tourist visa to go to Guatemala without having to pay for a new visa and without having to pay again upon returning.  I love this.  But unfortuntaley, if I want to renew my 90 days, i have to travel far to leave all 4 countries to return for a new 90 day visit.  So, I took an 18 hour bus ride to Costa Rica.  It leaves at 3 am and arrives at 10pm give or take an hour.

We arrived in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica and stayed with a family there (they work with the church here in El Salvador and I have met them a couple times over the past several years).  We spent a day enjoying the city, the downtown market, and then the following day took a 4 hour bus ride to La Fortuna.  La Fortuna is a tourist town that is built on the side of the volcano Arenal.  Arenal is the 2nd most active volcano in the world.  On a clear night, you can see the lava flowing from the volcano and it sounds like thunder.  Here's a picture of our hostel next to the volcano (the volcano is covered by a lot of clouds, but it directly straight from the road) and the volcano from the hike we took:

And after the hike we enjoyed the hot springs that are the best benefit ever from being near an active volcano!  We tried to capture the picture of the waterfall behind us. . .but there wasn't quite enough light to get a good picture

We enjoyed the cute little tourist town

Then we enjoyed another day in San Jose before heading back (on another long bus ride).  Costa Rica is known for its protection and value of it's land.  I loved that in Downtown San Jose, even the paintings on the wall showed this value as the elephants recycle :)
I had a great trip, but I was glad to be back in my bed after a long bus ride (which the man behind me kept kicking my seat so i couldn't sleep) and my chair was broken, and i was in a terrible position to see the TV for the movies playing.  Those factors certainly make 18 hours feel a lot longer!!  But after a shower and a good nights sleep, i'm feeling much better.  

Well, time to get ready and head out to the women's shelter!

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