A French Widow in Every Room

Recently, I have read two articles in the ‘Travel’ sections of ‘The Independent’ and ‘The Guardian’ dealing with visits to Costa Rica.

Brief articles, as those who operate these organs consider that their target readership resembles themselves in having the attention span of a gnat which has gained its culture at the knees of dwarfs who long ago fell from the shoulders of giants into the mire of consumerism.

I can’t comment on the choice of ’boutique’ hotels, but I jolly well can on the subject of Volcan Arenal, which figures in both articles.

This is Volcan Arenal….some ninety kilometres north of the capital, San Jose….


volcan arenal

Brooding big beast, isn’t it…..

It had been dormant for centuries before blowing its top in the 1960s, causing tremendous loss of life and associated damage then for years afterward made a spectacle of itself with its lava flows.

arenal lava

Needless to say,this gave rise to a tourist trade…the  heated waters from the volcano were tamed and privatised to form hot springs resorts while hotels started to be built to give views of the flows.

This went well for years, until the lava flows messed off round to the other side of the volcano. Those hotels which had been cashing in for years risked losing trade to the cheaper places which up to then had built their business on hiking and bird watching.

What to do?

Well,if in doubt, do nothing.

Just keep pumping out the publicity. After all, volcanoes are unpredictable beasts and if your guests have a blank night you can console yourself that the tour operators only bring them for one night and that the next lot will be along tomorrow.

And so it went on happily until, in 2010, Volcan Arenal shut up shop.

Five years ago.

You can still hike…watch birds…enjoy the hot springs….but no lava flows.

So why do those who wrote these articles – in 2015 – tell the readers of the two newspapers that the volcano is still active and that they can book hotel rooms to see the lava flow?

British Airways are offering direct flights from London to San Jose from next year….no doubt  there are people planning their trips to make the most of the price of a long haul flight.

It would be a pity if they booked a trip to Arenal on the strength of these two articles.

Yes, things can change rapidly in the sphere of hotels, restaurants and even natural phenomena,but if you accept money to write a travel guide – nomatter how short – should you not check your facts?

Costa Rica has so much more to offer than the enclosed beach resorts, the tourist coffee trails and the exploitative hippy ‘sanctuaries’….

I am quite aware that the travel section editors know nothing of Costa Rica apart from the advertising brought in when the article is punted around…but could they not ensure that basic information is correct?

If Costa Rica interests you,then the best source for places to visit is here: 

but if you want to be misled as to the delights of your destination then you can do no better than consult Hoffnung  on the Tyrol.

Thanks to WordPress I can no longer put up a Youtube clip..but Hoffnung’s claims of a French widow in every room promising enormous revelations seems a better bet than looking for lava onVolcan Arenal