Monday, 23 February 2009
Mirador at Cuauhtemoc
I visit Brussels today and the Birdi family. Dharminder and I monkey about taking photographs of his boys using off camera flash and a variety of techniques learnt from the Strobist website. Alexandre was 9 years old yesterday. Unbelievable. We also manage to build some Lego, to have a game of balloon doubles tennis and build a tent!
Later on Dhar and I got out for a drink and I get the last train home to Antwerp.
This Time Last Year
Get up for breakfast at 8am and decide to head straight away to Cuauhtemoc. We walk down the street to the bus stop and soon find ourselves on the Rapido bus.
It's a comfortable bus (with TV) bt I read the Guardian newspaper that Jim has brought me from Lndon and look out the window,
The landscape is brown and dry. The weather is warm, very warm and the sky is a bright and clear blue. We pass miles of apple and pear orchards. In the distance are brown and bare mountains.
When we arrive, we find our hotel nd check in. We find the Railway Station but it is empty and we can get no information. We have have a seafood lunch and then walk up to the Mirador which overlooks the town. It has been nicely made and the views are spectacular.
After resting at the hotel we again vist the Railway Station. Again it is empty.
In the evening we have dinner at the Rancho Viejo. Very good. Nice Mexican wine.
This Time in 2007
Up at 6.30am for a breakfast of coffee and French toast. My ride turned up promptly at 8am to start me on my 3 and half hour journey. Apparently it would take 8 hours if I went around Lake Arenal on the bus.
The ordinary mini-van turned up promptly at 8am to pick me up and we scootered around town and picked up another couple. However as we were leaving town on a dirt road we smashed against the road and something underneath broke. We limped back into town and waited for a replacement bus.
I was concerned as it was important for me to get to Fortuna by midday to meet Carlos, Luis and the new canoeing group.
Fortunately another bus arrived by 8.30 and we were on the road again. Another couple had joined us.
The route, instead of going through the forest as I imagined, climbed over hills past vast coffee plantations and through large cattle ranches. The views over towards the Pacific Ocean were superb and the rolling green hills were very picturesque. Although the weather had started out warm and bright by the time we had crossed over to the Caribbean side it was overcast and cooler. It also rained a little.
After about two hours we came down to the lakeside and had to walk the last 200m to a boat that was waiting for us. The lake itself was quite choppy and the views of the volcano were obscured by low cloud. A pity. It was only a half-hour ride across the lake and soon we were clambering into another mini-bus to take us into Fortuna town.
Pretty soon I was at Canoa Aventura - Oscars place. Carlos and Luis didn't get there until 1pm and it took us until 2pm to get all the canoes and everything loaded. It was almost 3pm by the time we picked up our guest from the Hotel. I met Cathy, Josh, Nancy, Ellen and Donna again. I had been with them on a canoeing trip in France. I also met Brett, Amy and David for the first time. Florence was also here and would be joining us for the trip.
We finally got them in the water, but quickly had to rescue two boats as the went over at the first bend! We did a T and an H rescue in mid-river to get ourselves going again! Pretty soon after that we pulled up at a beach for a very late lunch. After lunch one couple went over again and Carlos and I had to rescue them but after that they managed to stay in the boat!
We managed to see a bit of wildlife; some egrets and herons, an iguana and a troop of Howler Monkeys, but the river was surprisingly quiet. We had finished paddling by 5pm and managed to get back to the hotel at 6pm just as night was falling.
We reconvened at 7pm for a short walk into town and a restaurant.