The four days that we stayed at Arenal were beyond amazing. We stayed at a hilltop hotel that overlooked both the lake and the volcano, and its property backed to both rainforest and fields that had been carved out of the dense woodland. Every morning I would get up at five o'clock, and spend a few hours exploring the trails behind the hotel. Every morning, I saw all sorts of things, and rarely did I see the same thing twice! The animal and bird life included everything from guans to Coatis to grassquits.
One morning I noticed a big flock of birds feeding in an old tree in middle of an otherwise open field. As I looked at each bird, every one turned out to be a different species! A Green Honeycreeper. A Shining Honeycreeper. A Red-legged Honeycreeper. A couple of Collared Aracaris. A Crimson-collared Tanager. A Golden-masked Tanager.
Another morning I saw a Keel-billed Toucan , and couldn't even believe it was real! It was perched on a dead branch, high in an old tree, and was mechanically opening and closing its enormous beak. I had to stare at it for several minutes to fully comprehend what I was seeing!
I found a family of Capuchin Monkeys, and opposite them, a Squirrel Cuckoo! One time I scared up a Crested Guan, who ran a few steps, turned around and stayed to let me admire it. All day long, small flocks of parakeets would fly across the sky. Hummingbirds fed on the flowering bushes around the hotel. Grassquits and Gray-crowned Yellowthroats perched on the barbed wire fences. During the night, we found Dusky Nightjars sitting on fenceposts along the driveway that wound down the hill from the hotel. As we ate meals in the dining room, we would watch the Turkey Vultures soaring by us at eye-level!
One of the attractions of Arenal is the fact that the volcano is in constant eruption, or at least the lava is still flowing. Our self-guided tour included dinner and entrance to the thermally-heated spa which offers a good vantage point of the lava action. We dropped by for dinner the first night, enjoyed the hot tub, and kept half an eye on the volcano. The lava did flow, though it was more of an intermittent trickle.
One day we decided that we had had our fill of the hotel's restaurant, and went to look for a restaurant. After returning to the main highway via the long, treacherous gravel road to the hotel, we came upon a sign that advertised "American-style pizza". We followed the sign all the way to the town, and discovered the restaurant... closed. Its sign indicated that it should be open, but it wasn't.
That was fine, because we had also noticed another advertisement for pizza, back in the direction of our hotel. The sign quite literally said "PIZZA! PIZZA! PIZZA!" No restaurant name, just a food item repeated three times. We were therefore a bit baffled when we sat down, ordered pizza, and heard the reply in Italian:
"No pizza. Solo pasta."
Hmm. Well, I did see a Muscovy Duck there. I wasn't sure whether I should count it or not, since it was eating pasta from my hand. I decided to leave it off the list.