several hundred "ex-pat" residents living around
Lake Arenal in the province of Guanacaste live an idyllic
life. The weather is pleasant throughout the year, the setting
is beautiful and peaceful, and there is almost no crime. Most
of the Costa Rican families of this area have spent their
entire lives here. They live, except for a few, on widely
dispursed individual properties, not in gated communities.
Within the ex-pat community, there is a monthly women's luncheon
group which works together on charitable projects for the
area, an environmental organization, a Wednesday afternoon
social at one of the local hotels, and other planned social
and cultural activities.
weather at Arenal is generally mildly warm, usually the low
70's at night and low to mid-80's during the day. This writer
has seen a low of 60 and a high of 91. Air conditioners are
therefore rare, though most homes have several ceiling fans.
In contrast to the hot "dry" season - November through
March - characteristic of the lowlands and beaches, Lake Arenal
has instead its windy season from mid- December until mid-February
, which makes it one of the top windsurfing destinations in
the world. There is some rain during these months as well.
Then, beginning in mid-April, like the lowlands, Arenal experiences
the "green" season through October, when there are
frequent short afternoon rains, often with thunderstorms.
In other words, the weather, within the parameters noted above,
is changeable, and therefore interesting.
At the famously active Arenal Volcano, a few miles past the
eastern end of the 25-mile-long man-made lake, is a tourist
mecca with many hotels in and near the town of La Fortuna.
There is little population around the rest of the lake and
no towns until, coming westward from La Fortuna, you encounter
Nuevo Arenal on the north side. After that are the villages
of Aguacate and Las Piedras, and, on the south side, San Luis
and Tronadora. About four miles south of the lake is the "county
seat" called Tilarán where you will find restaurants,
grocery and hardware stores, doctors and dentists, and several
banks blessed with ATM machines. Tilarán, a planned
community laid out on a hilltop in 1912, is notable for its
broad streets, cleanliness, and friendly residents. From there,
it takes less than a half-hour to descend to the larger lowland
town of Cañas on the Interamerican Highway and, from
there, less 45 minutes to the very convenient Liberia International