Saturday 12/4/04 -
Tabacon Hot Springs

OK, there was a shuttle to the hot springs, but it was only a short walk so we decided to do the walk. The path ran along the quiet road which had few cars and was surrounded by lush forest. It was incredibly green and thick. We ran into TWO sets of army ants along the way and were fascinated by them! You could see the long trails of marchers, carrying their little leaves on their backs. We passed another couple on the way - they said they had been tormenting the poor ants, I imagine by setting up little blockades :) Poor anties ...

In about 5 minutes we were at the resort itself. Usually it's about $30 each to get in! We were allowed to go in for free and had plastic bracelets on to give us entrance. In we walked, getting our complimentary towels and locker keys from the desk. We also put in dinner reservations for 7pm here, to eat after our massage. Then came the classic Lisa quest - to put our feet into every body of water here. The "big pool" was closed for repairs which was a shame - there was a fun slide down from the 2nd floor restaurant into it! There were several other jacuzzis though, plus a LONG stream which was hot that created many pools along its path. There were gorgeous paths that wended in and out of the stream path. It was all quite gorgeous. The water was quite hot in the stream!

Slide Closed

Volcano in Background

Lisa in the Stream - very hot water!

Looking downstream from a bridge

Some stream spots had metal bars to help you get in / out

The volcano loomed over all

We loved this danger sign

Lizard enjoying the hot spray

Another natural, warm waterfall

A man-made pond with tables to hang out at

Having explored the whole complex, we returned to the main bar and got drinks. We then went to the warm pool nearest to the spa area. The back wall of the large pool had built-in reclining seats, so you could lean back and watch the volcano. Night was falling and you could now see "balls" of red lava rolling down the volcano. It was VERY cool. A pair of women from London wandered along and we got them to sit with us, and we all talked about the lava.

Unfortunately you can't really see the lava in these photos, as it got darker. They were like red sparks in a fire.

Soon 6pm rolled around so we got up and walked to the massage main desk, behind us. There was a lovely reception area with coffee and tea. It was starting to get a tiny bit chilly as we were in our wet swimsuits.

the entry area

They had us change into big fluffy white robes and slippers, and walked us along in the now almost pitch black dark to a tiki hut lit by candles. We were surrounded by vegetation and then with the waterfalls around us that we heard nothing else - so we were in our own little world. We each got a massage side by side, very relaxing and peaceful, the candlelight flickering and the water sounds. It was 45 minutes and only a bit cold by the end - but I highly recommend going at this time so it's nice and dark and restful. I think I might have felt a little shy if it was light out, worried about people seeing in from the various paths. With it being nighttime, all other thoughts vanished.

When we were done, we changed back into our swimsuits and had no desire to put on our original clothes, since they were the same ones we'd been wearing since we left Boston a full day ago. So we stopped by the gift shop and got inexpensive tshirts and cotton pants, and went up to the restaurant. It was a buffet of traditional Costa Rican foods. There were beans and rice, grilled chicken, grilled beef, and a corn meal square wrapped in green leaves. There were also various fruits for dessert. It was all quite tasty and filling, although not very flavorful. Costa Ricans have traditionally been a poor group and their primary concern is with getting enough calories in their food to sustain the hard work they do. This food fits the bill!

We then walked back to our room and hung out on the balcony, watching the volcano. It was amazing. We heard many others passing in the complex talking about it - and we thought they were just newcomers. But as it turns out, the volcano is often in clouds. This was a lucky night that it was quite visible. When we headed back in to our room from the balcony, it was pretty cold in our room - the AC was on in the room and we couldn't get it to turn off. I took a hot bath even though we had just come from jacuzzi-land. But even so it was cold coming back out into the room itself.

This was the only "down side" to staying at the Tabacon. We looked at the controls and realized the AC controls were simply broken. So we called the front desk for help. The guys showed up and used pliers to set it to 70 and said that the AC "cooling" turned off at 70F now - but that the fan would be on all night. The fan literally blew right down onto my sister and the air was still cold. So we asked them to turn off the fan completely. Note that 70F was MUCH warmer than what we slept in last night (i.e. 30F in a cold car) so we weren't asking to be heated!! We just wanted no cold air blowing on us. The two maintenance guys were not very friendly and in essence told us to live with the cold air blast. We had to call the front desk again and have some talking before they finally turned the fan off totally. They made it seem like we were being unreasonable to want the fan off, that we were pampered Americans. So that was frustrating.

In any case, once the fan was off, we were quite happy under our covers. I woke up many times through the night to look at the volcano, but it was now just dark - as it turns out, the clouds were rolling in, and from this point on, we couldn't see the volcano clearly again! So we were very lucky that we came in early and got the time we had with a clear volcano.

Oh, as another note, my boyfriend tried to call in to check on us - and nobody answered the phone at the Tabacon front desk!! So he was worried by the time I called him. All of the hotels we stayed at had a card explaining how to call out via credit card or collect call. It said you could ask for rates but it never actually GAVE them :) I only found out on the last day that it was $2.50/minute. That is high - but nothing compared to the $80/5 minute charges that people USED to be charged here.

Sunday - Breakfast and Heading Out

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