BY SOFIA JOHN
Perhaps I should not have jumped in the pool with my clothes on, especially not with my last clean outfit. However, I put logic aside as I catapulted myself into the pool for the sake of free shots. The DJ at the Arenal Hostel Resort momentarily abandoned his post to join the impromptu pool party, fully clothed and with a bottle of a mysteriously strong orange liquid in hand. The party was just getting started.
I had arrived in the small town of La Fortuna that afternoon with hopes of hiking to the summit of the nearby Arenal Volcano. I checked into the hostel, and through the it I signed up for a tour of the volcano and the nearby hot springs. The hostel was unbelievable: for $12 per night, I had access to a courtyard of hammocks, a small pool, a pool bar, a book exchange, laundry service, and free storage. To sweeten the deal, there was a balcony with wooden rocking chairs outside of my six-person room that had a clear view of the volcano.
Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I was unable to summit the volcano. I found out the hard way that it takes a two-day hike to reach the top. However, I did have the pleasure of touring the national park at the base of the volcano with rather comical tour guides. The guides went by the names “Jungle-man,” and “Monkey-man.” Supposedly, Monkey-man’s name stems from a small appendage at the end of his tailbone; however, he was too shy to show it the tour group. Jungle-man and Monkey-man led us to see two pit-viper snakes, a howler monkey, and two toucans–neither of which sold Fruit Loops cereal. We also saw a large crater about 20 feet in diameter and five feet deep.
Fortunately, due to weather constraints, the group was not able to go to the hot springs. Instead, the hostel paid for us to visit a local spa called Paradise Hot Springs. We had two hours to capitalize on the six different attractions: four pools and two Jacuzzis. The main pool had underwater lights that softly pulsed the colors of the rainbow. The light then bounced off the tiles and illuminated the entire pool. The water was splendidly warm, and not more than 5 feet deep. The pool was complete with underwater lounge chairs, and resting in one was by far the most comfortable way to turn into a prune.
The savory aromas of a barbeque greeted me as I returned to the hostel. The cook dished up grilled chicken, mixed vegetables, and fried yucca. I grabbed a plate and planted myself at the bar. I was the only American in a sea of Norwegians, Kiwis, Englishmen, Germen, and Costa Ricans. The hostel’s DJ joined rallied the group, encouraging us all to sing karaoke. With a group of new friends, I sang (read: squealed) Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It was epic. After a few songs the DJ lured us into the pool with free shots. I emerged from the clothed pool party and headed to a local discotheque with soaked pants. I don’t recommend a night out in wet clothes, but a trip to La Fortuna is must.