For about a week of our trip, I was more concerned with how to control the pain in my ear, than seeing and doing cool Costa Rican things. My main objective was to see the doctor at the wedding resort and get his confirmation that I didn´t need surgery, as well as get some proper medicine. And there was also the big goal that I´ve been working on since April: to be healthy enough to enjoy sissy´s wedding. At first the antibiotic ear drops from Clinica La Fortuna seemed to work, but my ear continued to secrete liquid several days out, so I´m guessing it stopped working effectively at some point. I had to take a lot of pain medicine in order to numb the right side of the face, so when the drugs wore off I was, again, in excruciating pain. But I took enough medicine that this rarely happened. My face almost went numb, but anything was better than the throbbing in my ear.
I had planned for us to do a lot of different kinds of activities while we were at Arenal, but in the end we only really did one activity a day and rested for the rest of the time. The first day we didn´t really sleep much due to the middle of the night hospital run and the early morning trip to get my ear seen by a doctor. So when we got back to the Lodge we enjoyed the jacuzzi and pool in the Costa Rican rain forest, and that night we bought a night pass for one of the hotel hot springs, which Arenal Volcano is known for. So we headed to Tabacon Hot Springs because the one our friend recommended had a lot of slides, and I had been told that I needed to keep my ear dry, so we went with Tabacon. I knew I was probably going to get my ear a little wet, but how often do you get to go in hot springs in the Costa Rican rain forest? We enjoyed our evening at Tabacon. It was nice to go at night, with the lights in the pools and on the bridges. Aside from the dull ache whenever the steam from the hot springs entered my ear, it was a pleasant evening. The dinner buffet that came included with our night pass wasn´t so good, but it was food, albeit expensive, mediocre, tourist food.
The next day we had planned to go on a tour of Caño Negro Wildlife Reserve, about 2.5 hours north of La Fortuna. Tissue in hand to catch the ear leakage, we boarded the back row of the van so Jon could have some extra legroom, but unfortunately our tricky guides had counted all the seats in the van and filled them with people. After moving over, my tissues and I were jammed in between Jon´s leg and the back right hand window. Basically I was stuck and I wanted to avoid any ear pain, so I just went to sleep. When we got to Caño Negro we sprayed ourselves down with bug spray and hopped on our river boat for the wildlife tour. Caño Negro is a wildlife refuge so the animals have been rescued from other places in Costa Rica, and roaming around the reserve in order for them to have as natural a life experience as possible. The scenery and the wildlife was much like that of the Pantanal in Brazil. I would call it a mini-Pantanal, because I spent most of the time on a boat with binoculars stuck to my eyes, looking for animals. Like in Brazil thought, I was often the last to see the wildlife, if I even saw anything in the green trees of the bank at all. Things I did see: white faced capuchin monkeys up close, giant iguanas, howler monkeys, caiman, great white egrets, kingfishers, some jabiru storks, as well as the famed red macaws, which I hadn´t actually seen before…(They looked more like black blobs to me than red birds). Our guide really knew her stuff, and If I hadn´t previously seen those same animals in Brazil, I would have been very impressed. However, since I HAD seen those animals, and with a scientific researcher on his own boat, I didn´t care as much, and focused more on my ear than the animals on the sides of the river. After wiping up nasal drip and ear goo for at least two hours, we ate our fifth meal of typical Costa Rican food: rice, black beans, plantains, and grilled chicken, fish, or meat. The first two times we ate the meal it was pretty good, but by this time, we were ready for something different. Alas, we had to make do with beans and rice.
On the ride home, we decided just to eat dinner at Arenal Lodge because Jon was, understandably, tired of slowly driving the rocky 17 km road from La Fortuna. There were many other things we were supposed to do in Arenal, but due to my ear, we just sat in the Jacuzzi, enjoyed the property, and ate more rice and beans. Jon really enjoyed his hike to a waterfall on the premises, but I just stayed dry in the cafeteria overlooking the volcano and lake. Go figure- it rained a lot in the rainforest! And I was trying to keep the ear dry so I stayed inside a lot. We ended up not doing a zip-lining tour, the canopy bridges during the day, or any hikes in the National Park, where our hotel was. But I figure that if we really missed out on something, we can do it at the end of the trip.
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