Even though this is a recount from the past, I thought why not post this story from a world traveler. This happens and just happened recently in Boquete. Take precautions when hiking.
“OK, we’ll go after lunch,” my companions replied.
Hours passed, and I grew anxious. “Let’s go! Let’s go!” “The day’s being wasted!” We were all on a tour of Costa Rica, leaving Arenal National Park the next day, and I wanted to get in a good day of hiking around the volcano. Finally, they acquiesced, we hailed down a cab, and were off to Arenal National Park.
It was mid-afternoon by the time we arrived, and I was bitter we’d wasted so much of the day, but when the sun set over Arenal Lake, we’d get to watch from up high on the old lava fields. Arenal is Costa Rica’s active volcano. During the day, smoke rises into the sky, creating a hazy dust cloud around it. At night, flashes of red can be seen oozing down the sides as nature displays her glory. Watching it is a sight to see, and on occasion, big eruptions allow the tourists to “ooh” and “ahh” over nature’s own fireworks display. Old lava fields and thick rainforest surround the area, making it a wonderful hiking destination.
We told our cab driver we’d be back at the entrance at six and started off on our adventure. We wandered off trail down old lava fields, wandered on trail through giant lava rocks, and followed weird local animals around. Soon it was getting dark, and we wanted to get back to the lake to see the sunset. Looking at our map, we realized we had no idea what trail we were on. After asking a passerby where we were, we thought we’d found our location. According to where we thought we were, the trail ended soon, and there was a turn around.
After what seemed an eternity, we found a dirt road. We weren’t sure where it went or which way town was. The road was on the map, and luckily, a science station was marked on it. But which way was the science station? If we went the wrong way, we could be walking pointlessly even longer. So we took a chance and began walking. Luckily, it was the right way. Soon we came to the gate, and the guard, informing us we couldn’t call a cab from there, pointed us back the other way and said the main road back into town was a 20-minute walk.
We hit the main road. It was empty—no cars, no lights. Tired and hungry, we began our long walk home, each of us silently contemplating our experience. Soon a car pulled by and picked us up. Suddenly we were animated again, talking and laughing about the whole experience. The mountain, as if welcoming us home, exploded with joy, and we stopped, “oohed” and “ahhed,” and took photos.
We joined our tour group, over an hour late and still dirty from the forest, everyone looking at us and asking, “Where were you guys?”
If only they knew…