February 28-29, 2008
I took yet another bus to the town of Arenal, which sat on the Arenal Lagoon with a view of, you guessed it, the Arenal Volcano. It was a pretty area, but there wasn't a lot to do because the roads were set up for motor traffic only, and the consequently the lagoon wasn't very accessible by foot. Still I had to stop there for a night because there weren't any more buses that could take me through this region to the place I wanted to go.
The next day I took two more buses to get to Santa Elena. It looked close to Arenal on the map, but I still wasn't able to get there until late afternoon. That didn't much matter, though, because it was probably the biggest tourist trap I had seen in Central America so far. Basic necessities like restaurants and the Internet were three times more expensive than anywhere else I had been in Costa Rica, and even the grocery store did its best to gouge the tourists.
I was sure this place wasn't for me I met an English girl who said she had just gotten back from walking through the forest. She went without a guide, so I figured the experience would be cheap, or possibly even free. But when she showed me her entrance ticket for $15, I decided to leave the first chance I got. I could somewhat understand it when people paid $75 for a full-day guided tour, but $15 just to walk through a forest on your own for a few hours? Absolutely ridiculous. I calmed my nerves, called it an early night, and planned to leave tomorrow before my mildly good impression of the country turned really bad.