San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arenal Report

Toad, Mole, Ratty and Badger have not returned and begun restoring funky Toad Hall, the formerly popular tourist stop between the dam and Nuevo Arenal at the vestigial village of La Unión. Instead, new owners Lydia and Jeff are impressively rebuilding the gift shop and café, which was trashed by thieves and vandals after the founding entrepreneur vanished like Toad about three years ago. The souvenir shop returns, the kitchen becomes a bar, the second building the owners’ home with infinity pool, and the third building a two-suite rental with a third rental attached to the owners’ home. The beautiful lake view and good location, near the luxurious La Mansión Inn Arenal, remain the same. 

Another rebuilding job has been done beside the highway as it passes through Nuevo Arenal. The former Lava Java Café, a popular meeting place, is now The Original Sunset Grill, chef Patrick Hughes having named it after his beautiful Red Sunset Inn on the road to Lake Coter. There’s a handsome new long bar inside and a pleasant roofed patio overlooking the forested quebrada in back. It’s now open for all three meals, including breakfast all day long. 

Seventy-six dogs and cats had their innards rebuilt in Tilarán and Parcelas on Aug. 20 and 21, thanks to the spay clinics organized there by Judy Reisman of Guanacaste Province Animal Welfare, or G-PAW. Judy reports exceptionally efficient work by Dr. Christian Elizondo and great help from volunteers Sarah Benson, Rusty Holz-heimer, Ed and Leslie Wood, Robert Gray, Samantha Walter, Mario Castellón, Andrea Muñoz and Rita Pfeifer. Several people donated money to fund less well-endowed animals, but there was still a shortfall of ₡135,000 ($270), so Judy is hoping for more donations. Her email address is

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