Honeymoon: Fernando/Arenal

Waking up in a bed in San Jose was far different than the Tree House on the coast. For one, there was air conditioning. For another, there weren’t any howler monkeys. That was probably my favorite thing about it, especially since we managed to sleep in a bit more than we would have otherwise. Once we got up and moving, we repacked everything and grabbed some food before heading downstairs to wait for our driver to show up so he could take us to the volcanic Arenal region. When he showed up, he introduced himself as Fernando and we go on our way.

It quickly became clear that Fernando’s English wasn’t as good as we first surmised, but that didn’t stop us from becoming quick friends. He was definitely one of the happiest people we met on the whole trip and wanted nothing more than to practice his English by learning about us and by telling us as much as he could about Costa Rica. Over the course of 4 or 5 hours, we learned about him and his family as well, but I felt it was hard to keep up, not because of any language issues, but because of how much the landscape changed as we drove. In just a few short hours we saw at least twice the variation in countryside as the photos below show.

This is different than…

…this is different than…

…this is different than…

…this. Quite the variation.

Sylvia and Fernando were definitely the closest friends as she managed to (unintentionally) get him to stop every once in a while to show us crazy things like an iguana farm, wild iguanas, teak forests like the one above, as well as a leaf that seems to bleed if you squeeze it. I was so visually stimulated that I only caught half of what was going on. At one point I heard something odd and said to Sylvia, “wait, what’s going on?” only to find out that as we were getting closer to our destination, we were also closer to Fernando’s family and he’d decided to introduce us to his folks.

I’m honestly not quite sure how we got to that point, but I want to think that Sylvia’s obsession with fresh coconuts played a part. Perhaps it was as simple as her mentioning how much she liked them and Fernando said something along the lines of, “oh we have a tree at my parents; I’ll take you and introduce you and you can have a coconut.” At least, I want to imagine that’s exactly how it happened. Just before that destination though, we stopped at a fruit stand on the side of the road to see some iguanas and a sloth.

Just as we pulled up, another car pulled over behind us which was kind of odd. Two women got out and apparently were well acquainted with Fernando so I relaxed a bit. He handed some money over to one of them and we found out later that they were the mother and sister to his baby mama. Interestingly Fernando wasn’t married to her either, which Sylvia and I thought was odd given our assumption that Latin American families would have valued that kind of thing, but it wasn’t really our business either.

Shortly after this is when we pulled up to Fernando’s family home which was a couple of houses next to each other. Most everyone seemed to be pretty busy taking care of house/yard work, but we did meet a few people briefly which was about as interesting as it was odd. Fernando then cut up a coconut for Sylvia which she quickly consumed and then we were on our way again.

When we finally rolled up to the Nayara resort that we were staying at, Sylvia and I were totally floored. We’d spent enough time on the coast in relative isolation, that the sudden exposure to a couple dozen clear tourists was kind of jarring. The resort itself was clearly much more than we were expecting as our open mouths and amazed expressions could convey to everyone around us. The public areas were all gorgeous and fun to walk around and the paths around to each of the individual cabins (no rooms, only cabins) were all lined with tall, vibrant plants. When we got to our cabin, we realized that the balcony was no only private with the plants, but each and every single of the cabins on site were oriented toward the volcano so everyone could get the same view.

Private balcony with view to the volcano? Check.

Giant bed in the middle of the room? Check

After exploring the room, Sylvia and I wandered the grounds a bit and located the spa and put our names in for a chocolate massage that afternoon. We found a little fish pond and some private Jacuzzi tubs hidden in the trees behind the pool bar. We were invited to some free sushi that night offered to the new guests at one of the two restaurants, so Sylvia and I decided that would be our plan that night. We went back to the room to relax a bit before walking back over to the spa to have our couple’s chocolate massage, but there’s not much to say about it. If you’ve had a massage before, then just add some chocolate in there and you have a pretty good idea of what it was like. I have a hard time knowing what constitutes a good massage because I’ve never had a bad one, but I definitely remember the moment they gave Sylvia and I a few minutes to shower the chocolate off and I did not have any idea exactly how much chocolate they’d used at that point because we were both covered. After checking out at the spa, we went back to the room and unpacked/cleaned up before heading to the sushi bar/restaurant. When we got seated and looked around, the decor seemed a little…weird to say the least, but I was there for the food at that moment.

Such a strange combination of colors/themes, at least to me

Sylvia’s not a big fan of seafood at all, so I ended up eating her free sushi in addition to mine for dinner and she ordered something else. Once we’d had our fill there, we wandered around a bit more, but there wasn’t as much to see since the sun had gone down at this point. Going back to the room, we discovered that the staff had given us towels folded up like pigs and we would find different animals each night when we came back. I don’t think that pigs are necessarily animals you’d think of representing love or a honeymoon, but they were sort of brilliantly made so I didn’t read too much into it. Sylvia and I started to get pretty sleepy only to realize that it was like 8 PM. We tried fighting the strange Costa Rican tendency for early bedtimes by watching some TV, but that just put us out quicker and we were definitely asleep by 9.

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