San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arenal Report

Tomorrow, March 5, is the first day of the 20th annual Vuelta al Lago, the two-day, 175-kilometer bicycle circuit of Lake Arenal that draws about 4,000 riders yearly. Emptying bike-clogged Tilarán at 9 a.m., the multitude of riders will head toward the first day’s finish at the central park in La Fortuna, most at a leisurely pace on the mostly unpaved first day’s course. Their biggest challenge is likely to come in fording the Río Caño Negro at the southern end of the lake, hoping not to get swept off the rope by the swift waist-deep water as they stumble over the rocky bottom, holding onto their bikes with one hand. On Sunday, the riders return to Tilarán via the paved highway on the east side of the lake. The entry fee is ₡8,000 (about $16). For information, visit

Former Lake Arenal homeowners Adrian and Amy Pratt survived the Feb. 22 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, but had an extremely harrowing day, as neither knew where the other was while buildings tumbled about them. Scottish native Adrian – formerly publisher of the State College, Pennsylvania, newspaper Centre Daily Times – and Amy remodeled a home near Tronadora several years ago and visited often during their two boys’ school vacations. Last year, Adrian joined the U.S. State Department and was assigned to Wellington, New Zealand. Amy had just flown into Christchurch to join Adrian for a delayed Valentine’s celebration when the quake struck. Each has recounted the experience on their blogs, Amy at and Adrian at As Adrian wrote, Amy, sightseeing while waiting for Adrian, was 100 feet from entering Christchurch Cathedral, where 20 people were killed, when the quake struck  at 12:51 pm.

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