“…and this one isn’t even venomous!”

…that’s what our guide on the foothills of Volcan Arenal said as he pointed out a green tree snake, after we passed our first (of two) eyelash vipers.  So, now I can check three venomous snakes off my list: rattlesnake (Yosemite), coral snake (if you count the dead one), and eyelash viper.  My guide was really excited, he said it was one of the biggest ones he’s ever seen.  It looks like this:

It’s only about a meter long, but pretty!  They also come in this color:

Anyway, this tour took place on Sunday  after my dad and I had taken the 4:00 bus the previous day to San Jose, spent the night in San Jose (and had a sketchy taxi driver that drove us in what seemed like a zillion pointless circles, while watching a DVD, and then overcharged us), and then woke up the following morning to take a bus to San Carlos and finally La Fortuna.  It was about 11 hours of travel, n0t including the sleeping part.  I was really disappointed to find that when we reached La Fortuna, it was pouring rain and the volcano that we had traveled so far to see was completely out of sight.  We had signed up for a volcano tour, but it got cancelled midway through, and we decided to pay a little extra to go to Baldi hot springs, which totally saved the night.

I’ve never seen anything like Baldi.  As my dad put it, it was “decadent”.  At night, it was a glowing oasis of 25 naturally hot pools (hot from the volcano!) ranging from 105 degrees to 150 degrees (each one was labeled), with waterfalls, jacuzzi bubbles, and fancy tilework, each one tucked away in a perfectly manicured tropical garden.  They ranged in size from that of a backyard swimming pool to an olympic pool.  Three of them had bars, where you could sit in the hot pool while also sitting on an underwater bar stool.

There was one with waterslides.  I don’t mean a little waterslide – I mean Dorney Park, times 10.  Illegal in the United States.  I hung around at the bottom of one of the tubular slides, and watched as people came rocketing out of the end like bullets from a gun.  They skittered across the water for a good 15 feet before finally sinking below the water surface.   Of course, I had to try it.  I climbed to the top of the giant structure, and read the sign telling you about the proper “Lunch position” (haha, typo for ‘Launch position’?), and the warning that told you that you could achieve speeds of up to 45 kilometers per hour inside the waterslide, and you couldn’t sue Baldi if the waterslide managed to severely injure you.  I figured, “hey, I’ll just sit up, that way I can stop myself if I want.”  Not the case.  I climbed inside the slide, and the experience was a combination of Disney’s Space Mountain and getting flushed down a toilet.  I’m not sure how the inside of the tube was lubricated, but it had the texture of an eel (and I’ve been handling those a lot these days).  Tiny holes in the paint allowed flecks of light to shine through, but not enough for you to see where you were going.   I gave up any attempt to slow down, and took the corners at speeds that allowed me to climb the walls of the tube to heights that I never would have imagined possible in a waterslide.  The slide finally spit me out the end, clinging to my bathing suit.  All in all, an excellent experience.

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