Costa Rica Part 3 – Tabacon

I write this as I sit in bed in one of the highest rated, luxury resorts in the world as confirmed by a thick book of luxury resorts sitting on the table in the room.  It’s quite nice, we arrived to discover we’d been upgraded to the garden suite; a massive apartment like room with a living room, dining area that opens up to a lush garden, a massive bathroom with a shower for ten (seriously! party in our room tonight!), a bedroom with a king-sized bed and a large tv that plays American channels, and the piece-de-resistance – the outdoor jacuzzi that could fit four or six surrounded by lush vegetation.  After six hours of driving on Costa Rican roads, the welcome drink was much appreciated.  

The Tabacon Resort is gorgeous and had this been my first stop in Costa Rica, I’d be more than impressed.  We spent our first night at the swim up bar eating cheeseburgers, a real treat after the lunch of peanuts and apples in the car, the best we could do at the Super Vaz #2 in Cahuita.  I am a bit disappointed in myself for ordering a burger here but it was burgers and nachos at the wet bar or Mediterranean food at the buffet, they grow beef here so I went for the lesser of the two evils and we were not driving back to La Fortuna in the dark and missing our first night in the springs.   

I wrote the first part of this post while I was sitting in bed, waiting for Dave to wake, on his tablet.  I thought I would start my blog then but it didn’t happen as we were so busy and I couldn’t bogart Dave’s tablet long enough to really do so.

I’ll admit that I was a bit sad about arriving at a large resort that tries to be personal and works to hard to please, a place that is gorgeous and beyond the expectations of most, but it was sad leaving my first Costa Rican love.  That experience will always be rose colored for me and while I will return to Cahuita, I’m not so naïve as to expect it will ever be as magical as that first time.

Moving on…. Tabacon is a lovely resort outside La Fortuna and near Mount Arenal, a large and somewhat active volcano that stopped visibly spewing hot magma about two to three years ago.   The resort itself is two parts – the large a lovely hotel and the natural hot springs down the road where you can play in waterfalls, relax surrounded by palms and ferns, and listen to the nocturnal birds sing.  Or get sloshed in the swim-up bar and go on the waterslide.  The first day there we headed into La Fortuna and ate at a restaurant where Dave had had a wonderful meal before.  It didn’t live up to my burger that first night but it was ok.  We debated going to the springs but opted to drive around instead.  Taking a wrong turn, we ended up at Sky Adventures.  We got some info on the zip-lining but it was too cloudy to really see the volcano so we opted for drinks in the bar and hung out on the deck enjoying the forest and peeks of Arenal through the fog.  That night we explored more of La Fortuna and had some “typical” Costa Rican food at a restaurant recommended by a local.  I had steak with tortillas, beans, guac, and pico de gallo; the waitress brought us this jar of picked peppers and veggies that was oddly the highlight for me.  I should Google how to make it!  Later that evening, we enjoyed the springs and relaxed.

The next day was clear so we headed back to Sky Adventures, seeing the zip lines the day before had really sold Dave.  There was a large tour bus unloading when we arrived so we stalled for time and stopped in a butterfly sanctuary where we talked to the shop owner and saw her collecting the freshly hatched butterflies from that morning.  A bit later we headed back to our zip lining adventure.  We got really lucky, because we waited we ended up being a group of 6 – 3 couples with 5 of us zip lining for the first time and a Hollywood stuntman.  No joke.

Our zip lining guides – Luis, Edgar, and Drexel were excellent.  I was such a nervous nelly with my dislike of heights, things that go fast, not having my feet on solid ground, being outdoors – you name it and it’s likely one of my fears or soon to be, I just didn’t know about it yet!  Since our three guides went through the whole course with us and were super thorough, this first time experience became really enjoyable for me.  The first two zip lines are for practice and to get comfortable, then they put you on line number 3 which is the highest line in the whole course and the highest in the country they claim.  Great idea, right?  Oh and before the highest line is the last chance to back out so it’s do or be the laughing stock forever.

Zip lining was exhilarating!  I loved every second of it once I was in the air; taking in the sight of the volcano, the lake, the trees – it was so amazing.  The equipment was very well taken care of and I felt safe during the whole process.  In between the guides would joke with us and make sure that we were having a wonderful time.  I am so happy Dave talked me into it and the sangrias afterwards with the view of the Volcano was priceless.  We also had a great chat with Diego, the bartender who would like to visit Arizona to see the white horses.  While I haven’t been to Arizona, I can honestly say that after this conversation I saw white horses everywhere in CR!

After that we went back to the butterfly sanctuary where we did the full hike.  Seeing the butterflies was fun but in all honesty, seeing them in the forest was more exciting.  I was happy to support a local conservation effort though and we met Glenn, the owner who’s from Texas which was cool.

On our last night at Tabacon we enjoyed drinks at the swim-up bar, relaxed in the springs (we even found new waterfalls!), and dinner at the resort which was pretty good.  We headed out of town the next morning with one last stop – to buy our biggest and most delicate souvenir.  That story to come!

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