Wednesday, November 6, 2013

On the Road...a Road Devastated by an Earthquake!

It was time to leave Arenal and make the trip to our next destination, The Peace Lodge.  Our driver was right on time.  When he dropped us of earlier in the week he had reminded us that the ride was going to be longer than what we had remembered from our past trips due to the earthquake of 2009.  There was a lot of destruction in the areas we would be driving.  However, when he picked us up, he told us he was just informed that the road from San Miguel was just reopened that week!  If we wanted to give it a try we could!  It would save us a few hours.  Apparently the locals were tired of waiting for the government to fix the road, so they did it themselves....well, that should have been our first clue!  But we said, sure - if the road is fixed, and it's faster -why not!  Off we went!

On our way we stopped at what is knows as the "Iguana Bridge". It's a nice break in the drive to stretch your legs and of course get some pictures!  

The kids, especially Alex, enjoyed this stop a lot!  After our short break we were back on the road.  Everything was going well, and when we got past San Miguel, when you make that sharp turn at the police station, little signs of the earthquake damage started to become visible.  We kept going a few miles and later passed the "Road Closed" signs....Hmmm....but we kept going!  I took it as a good sign that a car came towards us from the opposite direction, but I immediately tensed up.  This was NOT a road to be driven on!  Especially not in a van!  

As I was looking around the area you could see the damage so clearly.  I had no idea.  This road, no one has driven on it really since the earthquake, no one, until this week.  All along the mountainside you could see the bare areas where there used to be trees, but mudslides ripped them out.  

There are houses and buildings along the side of the road, just destroyed, halfway down the cliffs.  As we're diving along I just feel sick.  It's so sad.

This "road" is on the side of a cliff and it's curvy and winding and I have my kids and my parents with me.  I keep a calm front but I am so tense as we wind up and down the snaking dirt pathway that is barely wide enough for one vehicle to pass!  It's full of dirt and holes and boulders!  Occasionally a car comes the other way and we have to share this narrow passageway, but it does make me feel better because that means they made it through were we're heading!  I just keep holding my breath, trying to not look out my window at the drop off right next to me.  Of course there are no guard rails!  Just a drop off!  

I know that our driver is regretting that he took us this way, but he can't turn back now.  He tries to keep talking to make the ride go smoother.  He tells us about a town that was destroyed and how they're rebuilding.  But not here, not in the hills.  He shows us these waterfalls.  He says that you can only see them now because the trees that used to hide them were destroyed. 

Finally, we get to the bridge at the bottom of the last waterfall by the reception area of the Peace Lodge.  I breathe easier.  I know we're almost there!  This reception area used to have gift shop.  Now it's only a shell of a building.  It's being rebuilt.  How in the world did the Peace Lodge survive this earthquake?  My mom asks me if I'm sure we're actually going to a hotel that's in one piece!  She can't believe it, given what we've just driven on and what we've just seen!

But we pull up to the reception area and it's as if nothing happened right here.  This is my third visit and we're very familiar with this property!  We checked in and all of the tension of that ride just melted away.  We had lunch while we waited for our rooms to be ready.  For me, the Peace Lodge is a mystical bit of luxury tucked away in an oasis.  And you'll soon see why!  

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