After our amazing rafting trip, we got dropped off in the cool volcano town of La Fortuna. This place is pretty much in the heart of Costa Rica, and makes a good place to chill for a few days before heading east or west. The highlight was El Salto, an awesome little swimming hole where the locals like to show off by somersaulting from the rope-swing dangling below an overlooking tree.
The name of the town translates as “The Fortunate” and I don’t think a town has ever been named more aptly. In 1968, Volcan Arenal decided to start spewing her fiery contents over its neighbours. Everything to the west of the volcano was eliminated, including a number of small towns similar to the one I stayed in. Luckily for La Fortuna (or El Borio as it used to be called), the town sits on the eastern side of the volcano and so was left completely unscathed.
A constant reminder of just how lucky this town was is ever present in the form of the huge volcano overlooking almost every corner of the town. From Arenal Backpackers Resort, the lovely hostel where I stayed, you have a view of the volcano from the pool! The summit of the volcano is almost always engulfed in cloud, but is still an imposing figure over the mainly low rise town.
Neighbouring the volcano is a series of hills which have a very strange name: Lying Indian with Penis. I thought I was being wound up at first, but sure enough when you look at the curves and bulges of the hills, the name is strangely appropriate.
We left the centre of La Fortuna with Lying Indian with Penis to our right and walked for ten minutes. Passing by fields and gaining an increasingly impressive view of the volcano, we turned a corner, walked down a little dirt path and arrived at El Salto.
Walking down through the trees, a series of cascades unveiled themselves to us, with water flowing over huge rocks in to a large tree lined pool before continuing downstream. Local teenagers were chilling on the edges of the water, while a few lined up for the rope swing. The first guy to step up to the rope was huge. I’m about 80% sure that the contents of the pool temporarily jumped off the river bed as he successfully completed the most impressive belly flop I’ve ever seen.
Next up was a kid who I’m going to look out for down at the diving pool at the Rio Olympics. He walked the rope further and further up the bank until it wouldn’t reach any further, then jumped in to the air without a second thought. Just as he reached the highest point of his swing, he let go of the rope and entered a flawless flip, plunging down in to the water without a splash. 10.
I was up next. Grabbing the rope as those around the swimming hole looked on in anticipation. Was this newcomer going to out dive the local champ? Was he going to provide stiffer competition than the belly flopper? I jumped up, swinging out in to the middle of the swimming hole, getting what I felt was some serious air before plunging down in to the water. It felt great, but the champ had nothing to worry about as he nonchalantly sat atop his rock. He knew his crown was safe for another day.