Bird Watching, Hot Water and an E-ticket Ride

Today was a pretty relaxed day if you don’t count the drive home from Baldi Spa after dark. We spent most of the day lounging around Chalet Nicholas watching the birds, reading and taking a walk in the forest behind the house. All along we had planned on going tot he hot springs, but our original plan was to go during the day. After being told by several people that they were better at night, we decided to leave at around 2:30 PM, drive toward La Fortuna and stop for dinner along the way. We would then arrive at the springs around 5:00 PM.

The springs in this area really aren’t springs in the traditional sense. The water is more like a hot river. It is hot because it is heated by the volcano (Arenal). Several spas/resorts in this area offer hot pools. The entrance fee can run from $25 – close to $80. Most of the places also offer the hot pools and services such as massages and facials for an additional cost. Some have a view of the volcano and others don’t.

The last time Tom and I were in Costa Rica we stumbled upon a municipal park that all of the Ticos went to. It cost a fraction of any of the spas It wasn’t fancy and was a bit rustic, but it was very laid back and we liked it. This time it appeared as if it was no longer open so we opted for one of the spas.

All went pretty much as planned until we got to Eco Termales, the hot springs we initially intended to go to. They were booked (and a little snotty about informing us of this) so we went across the street to Baldi Hot Springs and Resort which was our back up plan.

Baldi is a little more flashy and has a reputation for being a more party atmosphere with swim up bars, water slides and such. I originally shied away from it because I wasn’t sure a party spa would be quite right for my mom (who will be 70 in a couple of weeks) and my Dad (who is 81).

As it turned out, it was just fine and we enjoyed our time there sitting in the hot pools and the even hotter pools. My Dad went down the longest water slide at the spa, nobody was going to tell him he couldn’t. One of the pools was so hot that it was virtually empty except for a few young guys who were daring each other to run through the pool and into the cold shower on the other side. I go in up to about my knees and couldn’t go any further and I am someone who likes to take baths so hot that I am bright red when I get out (I know, probably not good for me, but I like a good hot bath).

Baldi is a pretty cool place. If Tom and I had been there alone we likely would have spent more time exploring the property. We went for a walk and came upon several pools at the back of the property that were virtually empty. The place also has a network of trails that run through gardens on the property. We were hesitant to spend to much time exploring because we didn’t want to hold the rest of the group up if they were ready to go. We were able to spend a bit of time in a couple of the secluded pools we found.

The real adventure was the drive home. Living in a city you forget how dark it is when things such as street lights and houses are not around. The drive from the hot springs back to Chalet Nicholas, outside of Nuevo Arenal was a trip – literally and figuratively. Pitch black, extra twisty roads peppered with pot holes the entire way. Throw in some Costa Rican drivers and you have a nail biter for sure. On the up side, it wasn’t raining.

I was the driver, which was better than the alternative as far as I am concerned. I always prefer to be in control in situations that are tense. Truth be told, I like to be i control and find it difficult to let go of control in certain circumstances. I guess It is one of those balance things that I sill need to work on.

It was not a quick trip back, but we made it safely. The only downside to the trip was that my littlest niece ended up with rashes all over her person. This was due either to the water or the detergent used to wash her clothes while we have been in Costa Rica. The kid has super sensitive skin. She is a trooper though – she won’t let it get her down.

Horseback riding is on the agenda for tomorrow and it is only a 10 minute drive down the road. I am 100% certain we will be done before it gets dark. We may even have some time to relax. This vacation is winding down and we have been very active so a little more down time would be nice.