Volcanic Thermal Hotsprings, Arenal, Costa Rica
This is part 2 of a 4 part report of tripping in Costa Rica. In our month in Costa Rica we tripped in the Jungle, the beach, a volcanic thermal hot spring and the cloud forest. We hope you enjoy our reports.
Our next stop in Costa Rica was the Tabacon Resort, at the base of the Arenal volcano.
Unlike our last destination, in the remote Osa Peninsula rainforest, Tabacon is a five star resort, with very modern rooms and an extensive spa facility. Our last home had no windows and an outdoor kitchen, and while we loved it, Alexis and I looked forward to a week to heal our many insect bites.
The Hot Springs. The star of the resort is the extensive thermal mineral hot springs. The resort has designed an extensive private estate with sprawling grounds that are meticulously maintained. This luxury comes at price; a room that includes breakfast and access to the thermal spa runs US$400 per night during high season. When we visited we book a package that cost a bit under $300 per night, and included breakfast, dinner every third night and spa treatments. The thermal spa is available for around $95 per person for non-hotel guests during high season, although a few areas of the resort are reserved for hotel guests.
Our first night we enjoyed the all you can eat buffet, which was surprisingly good and walked through the thermal spas to familiarize ourselves with them. The place is absolutely exquisite. And there are many winding pathways, which we knew would be a challenge to navigate on LSD.
We were very pleasantly surprised to find that the spa was pretty empty. The main pool had people in it, but most of the water areas we had to ourselves.
The Trip Begins. We woke up early, and as we prefer to do, we decided to start our trip immediately after a small breakfast. Around 10 a.m. we started the experience, each taking 125 micrograms, administered as a drop on a mint. I decided to pack a few sour patch kids to keep in the spa locker in case of emergency candy-fix needs.
We took the short shuttle bus to the Therma Spas, and changed into bathing suits and comfortable cotton robes. The spa had just opened and was empty. Because December is still fairly quiet in Costa Rica, and it was a Thursday, we hoped the spa would remain relatively uncrowded throughout the day.
The spa seemed even more beautiful in the morning, and we marveled at it as we strolled through the extensive grounds waiting for our trip to begin.
We stalked out one of the small wicker pods, which are in the "hotel guest only" area of the resort so we would have a home base to return to during the day, as well as a place to leave our robes and the like.
Conveniently, there was also a small bar from which to order drinks and food. And plenty of fresh fluffy towels to choose from. There were only a few pods, plus a couple of day beds, so we knew the area would be quiet. And there was also a small hot stream we could pop into only a few feet away.
After lining our pod with fresh towels, we continued to make our way through the seemingly endless and increasingly confusing tiny footpaths, many of which lead to small alcoves with private sitting areas. Fortunately, we appeared to be the only guests on the entire property at the time. As the LSD first began to take hold we decided to find a secluded stream to sit in. (click here for Phases of an LSD Experience we experience)
At the far side of the property, closest to the volcano, the water was 104 degrees, far too hot for our purposes. However, we found an area that was 99 degrees, had a small waterfall and included paved area resembling a pool deck to recline on if we wanted to get out of the water. The ambient temperature was in the high 70s with highs in the mid-80s expected.
The area we selected was remote, with the only access via a winding path, and the only other point of contact with the rest of the spa being a small red bridge people could stroll over. We felt very secluded, which was exactly what we wanted. We would end up spending the better part of four hours in our private hideaway.
We sat down in the water, which reached half way up our chests. The stream bed was fine sand and tiny rocks, comfortable to sit on. The water was crystal clear and a perfect temperature.
Tripping in a Stream. We had very few expectations of what it would be like to take LSD in a stream. In addition, we had never taken acid in such an enclosed space. Above us was a dense canopy of trees, and we were in a sunken stream bank, very similar to being in a relatively small all natural room. The area was cozy, and it felt for the most part that we were isolated from all other people.
In the water the LSD started to have a strong effect. As is usual, our first reaction was the sense of heightened visual acuity. Everything was in very sharp focus, especially the waterfall, which seemed in incredible focus, while everything in our peripheral vision was in soft focus. Our next perception was an emotional awareness that something profound was starting. We have found that acid trips in deep nature have this effect - that something important was about to happen, with a general emotional weightiness.
The Yin-Yang of Acid. As an aside, LSD has for us, an amazing element of Yin and Yang. Unlike MDMA, which we find to be very one note (a very good one note), LSD feels epic and complex. Often, there feels to be a deep duality of the experience: it involves both light and dark (physically and emotionally), happiness and sadness, solitude and connection, youthful energy and a sense of mortality. And these forces are complementary, and neither good nor bad... they just are.
And on LSD, we find deep acceptance of both the light and the dark, and a sense of profound humanity in this acceptance. Around ninety minutes after the initial effects, we began to experience classic psychedelic effects. Everything in sight was either green foliage or dark blue water, with the exception of one amazing red flower. For one of use, the foliage began to color morph, turning from green to magenta, to yellow, to blue and back to a deep green. A line of sparkling neon color outlined the leafs, and the waterfall sparkled with a light reflection that did not exist.
Childhood Fun. We relaxed and enjoyed the visual hallucinations, when a wonderful spirit of childlike innocent play began to arise.
Because we were in an almost enclosed area, our focus was on the tiny rocks and miniscule plant life on the banks of the stream. Surprisingly there were almost no bugs in the area, which was a pleasant surprise, but there were just a few ants on the banks. One of us mentioned that the stream bank looked like a tiny rock cliff, with small houses and caves on it. We all started to see the banks as a small town, and a childlike wonder set in. We exchange stories of the little adorable village life and our imaginations took over.
At one point, one rock caught our attention, and we placed it on top of a tiny peak on the bank. We imagined that the little guy was watching over our scene, and became our enchanted spirit guide. (This rock now lives in with a collection of other bits we have taken with us from particularly memorable trips).
Wildlife and Nature. As conversation among us died down, sharp geometric patterns appeared in the foliage, especially the canopy roof. Sounds became almost confusing, with one of us asking if the sound of water was actually a motorcycle (a sound which would have been an impossility in our location).
We began to stare into the tree canopy and Alexis asked if any animals lived in there, and commented "We are being watched. I know there are monkeys up there watching us. Let's look for their tails."
So we all started to look for monkeys and after only a few seconds we noticed a small face looking down at us. At first your author questioned whether there actually was a face watching us, or whether this was a shared hallucination. It was quite close to us, not more than ten feet away. But as we watched, the creature revealed itself more clearly!
Not a monkey, a coati, a mammal frequently seen in Costa Rica. This one moved gracefully up the tree, glancing at us with apparent indifference. We marvelled at the instinctive feel of being watched that triggered our search for the silent observer. We continued looking for other creatures and soon saw another coati in a nearby tree watching us as well. We enjoyed watching the sweet faces looking down for some time, and then decided to leave the water to have some food.
A Sudden Interuption! Moments after climbing out of our little pool and beginning to dry ourselves off, both coati raced down from the tree canopy to the spot we had been moments earlier. They began to snarl fiercely at each other, and the adorable little noses bent upward it a grotesque display of teeth. These are relatively large animals with sharp teeth and claws. And we were in swim shorts and bikinis less than five feet away. This was an overtly dangerous situation.
So we do what one naturally does on LSD. We decide we should leave quickly...just as soon as we recovered the small rock that has become our spirit creature for this trip. We slowly edged closer to the animals, who seem entirely disinterested in our presence. And in a remarkably ill advised move, Alexis grabed our tiny rock and we scurred away. A moment later, your humble author questioned out loud and with all sincerity as to whether what we had just witnessed had actually happened. It had. It should have been scary. Instead, it was simply extremely bizzare .
We were now almost five hours into our trip, and were becoming hungry. We returned to our little pods and ordered tropical drinks, which were quickly brought over to us. (I found the process of casually walking 100 feet to the bar by myself, but among other guests to be close to terrifying). The blended drinks were wonderfully flavorful, and we ordered a chicken quesadilla, which arrived some time later along with a light rain shower. The quesadilla was disappointing. We also noticed that unlike in the spring water, here there were small bugs that were happily biting us.
We jointly decide it is a good time to return to the hotel room, in part because Alexis tends to have significantly shorter trip than I do, and wanted to re-dose. We changed from our bathing suits to our standard clothing, and for the first time had to interact with the general population at the spa.
The Terror of a Bathroom Visit. This trip remains one of our all time favorites, in part because of the child-like feelings we. On the way out of the spa, however, we decided to use the restrooms for the first time, which required us to be separate. While the spa is extremely safe, a mild panic set in over the idea of being separate from each other, and having to enter the spa bathrooms. The few minutes of bathroom time was legitimately distressing, and being reunited was wonderful.
We grabbed each other's hands, and were happy that best friends were reunited. We made it back to our room using the hotel's shuttle bus, a simple but daunting feat. And back at the room Alexis took a 75 microgram re-dose.
Eating and Drinking. One of our favorite parts of any LSD experience is pounding the senses with strong foods and beverages. Alexis asked for some fruit. I remembered there being a bowl of fruit in the hotel gym. Grabbing the room key I headed out on a gathering mission, the earlier terror of being alone having passed. But I find the bowl of fruit to be far more disappointing than I had remembered. Instead I returned and called room service and asked for a fruit plate to be prepared.
A few minutes later there is a knock on the door and the fruit plate arrives. From the photo to the left, it appears we decide to share the fruit with not only the small rock/spirit guide from the stream, but also with a small shell that joined us during our Osa acid experience!
The fruit is amazing, but only gets me more motivated for taste sensations. I prepare a cup of espresso, shake out a plate of Sour Patch Kids, and pour a glass of tequila that Alesis has infused with hot peppers. Rotating a bite of sour, a drink of spicy tequila, a bit of fruit, a sip of espresso, the flavors seem to explode. I am aware that the peppery tequila is very hot, and that my mouth must be on fire, as I am aware of the concept of pain occuring, but oddly this "pain" is not at all unpleasant. It just exists.
Another knock follows at the door, and a burger with blue cheese I had apparently ordered arrives, along with a bowl of mushroom soup. The flavors are excellent, with the smokey char of the burger mixing wonderfully with the soup. Another espresso caps the meal.
During the meal the rain starts, and Alexis starts marching around the room like a tin soldier. Her blonde hair glows with florescent colors and I feel profound love for her. We listen to music made by a family member who killed himself earlier in the year, and I marvel at his talent and mourn his loss, not with sadness but with a full acceptance of the impermanence of life.
Coming Down. We continue to lounge around the room, listening to music and watching videos. We talk about friends and family members, watch a new rain shower pass over, and start to return to a sober state. A deep sense of connection remaining.
This trip remains one of our favorites. The setting was unique, and perfect for the experience. Our childlike wonder colored the entire day. I was profoundly aware and grateful that my life partner Alexis is also my best friend. And tapping into the innocence of the imaginative playtime continues to color our trips and our lives.
We hope you have enjoyed this story. As discussed in our "About" section, each of these stories are fictional stories we have created or have been told to us. We always comply with the laws and customs in each country we visit and we encourage all others to do so as well.