Getting to far behind on our blog! It’s amazing how fast you can get behind on these things. I go back and look at the photos on our Facebook (PS: You have “LIKED” us on facebook, haven’t you!?) and it seems like years ago when we first arrived in Costa Rica. Then I look at the date and realize it has only been 1 damn month. Crazy! We are now actually in Colombia, so much has happened since then. Time to get writing and get you guys caught up!
We said goodbye to Nicaragua and crossed the border at Penas Blancas. Quite an unorganized and chaotic border. Not as many touts and pushers bothering you but no real rhyme or reason to the whole process. Lots of running around chasing down random officials in blue shirts trying their damn best to hide from these gringos who need an exit stamp! It was a literal game of “Where’s Waldo?” as we went from blue-shirted man to blue-shirted man crazily waving our paperwork in their faces. We finally found Waldo hiding out under a palm tree WAYYYYY off in the far corner of the parking lot. Clearly hiding.
Thankfully many overlanders have gone before us and written some great walkthroughs. Thanks again to fromatob.org for their great Penas Blancas crossing article. We made it through in just under 2 hours. Not bad at all! These things are fairly easy provided you do your homework!
We crossed into Costa Rica with no real plan, as usual. We were just going to drive around and figure out something to do when we got there. We drove and drove and drove without seeing much of any interest. We made it to a town called Liberia, Costa Rica and stopped to have a look around and use some internet to figure out what to do for the day.
Our research discovered that the Rincon De La Vieja National Park was just a few miles back the way came. Apparently Rincon Vieaja is an active volcano complete with steam vents, mud pots, and the occasional eruption spewing hot ash and boatloads of hot liquid acid into the air if you are lucky. (Just kidding Mom’s! But seriously… it last erupted in Sept 2011)
Sounded like our kind of place, Hopped back in the 4Runner and drove up a horribly rutted road to the park entrance hoping we could camp there. The park was actually closed when we arrived. But we randomly spotted some fellow overlander friends Petra and Klaus, who we last saw in Belize over 4 months ago! We knocked on their door, said howdy and picked up right where we left off, sharing beers and swapping stories. They said they have been camping in front of the park now for 2 nights without any problems. So we setup camp and hit the park early in the morning.
The hike wound through lots of dense rainforest, certainly didnt seem like there were gobs of molten hot magma beneath our feet…
But after about 30 minutes we heard a faint rumbling and hissing off in the distance… Soon the acrid smell of sulfur filled our nostrils. Yep. Its a volcano alright!
We came across our first sign of the Earth’s guts spilling out into the atmosphere in the form of these nice steam vents/mud pots. I tried getting closer for a better picture but the warning signs describing the 400F degree steam lurking under the deteriorated thin-pizza crust ground surrounding the vents deterred me. I settled for just chunking a few rocks and sticks into the hole for fun. YES, YES. FEED THE CRATER!
We continued our hike discovering more and more volcanic evidence. It seemed the earth was leaking out of every pore. Every once and a while we would come across a rock making strange gurgling noises, you touch the rock and it is red-hot. We thought if we moved the rock a huge plume of lava would come shooting out. Obviously, We tried moving the rock but instead of being greeted by a delightful shower of lava we just received 1st degree burns on our palms. Perhaps its the Earth’s way of deterring us from unlocking Pandoras box.
Walking along the path minding my own business when I see a funny rock, I think that the rock kind of looks like a crab… Nah, Couldn’t be.
BAM! IT IS A CRAB AND HE IS A PISSED-OFF CRAZY LAVA CRAB
I subdued him with a stick until Lauren told me to stop messing with the poor guy. He is already very lost. Silly Crab, This is a forest.
It was a beautiful day for a hike. We learned that the Costa Rican power company actually harvests some of the steam escaping from the Volcano and converts it into usable energy. An interesting concept I thought.
We packed up the truck and hit the road. The truck has been running like crap since Nicaragua and the hunt for the needed repair parts continues. Plus we needed to get our butts to San Jose, Costa Rica to pick up Laurens Mom and sister who were expected to arrive soon.