----------------------------------------------- Google Site Map ----------------------------------------------- Cindy in ...: Costa Rica: Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Fire

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Costa Rica: Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Fire

Arenal doesn't erupt with lava that pushes up over the lip of the caldera and flows down the side of the mountain, creating new land as it cools. Arenal shoots spikes of lava into the air, where it coagulates into huge 40,000 pound boulders. These huge, glowing masses then bounce and roll down the side of the volcano. This is what you go to see, when you visit Arenal. Great balls of fire tumbling down the mountain.

For years they tumbled down the same side of the mountain, and a whole industry was created, with restarants offering a view of the eruption, and hotels sited so that every room had a balcony view of the lava. But that changed, and a different one of Arenal's three caldera's took over, spewing its rocks to the other side. Now, to see the eruption, you drive to a bridge in the evening, and see tiny glowing dots bouncing along, sometimes splitting into a shower of tinier dots. The volcano erupts constantly, but you can only see the boulders at night.

It's nothing like the steady flow of lava to the sea that I saw from Hawaii's Kilauea, but they do have something in common. A man who was viewing Arenal at the same time told me Kilauea has stopped erupting and they are all holding their breath, waiting to see what the next eruption will be, and what areas will be buried.

At Arenal, too, they are holding their breath. Arenal has three calderas. One shut down, and the other started up, sending the lava in a different direction. Residents wonder if this one will shut down, the third will open, and their town will be destroyed. So far the name La Fortuna has seemed apt. But maybe it won't be so fortunate in the not-so-distant future.

No comments: