This time last year I was traveling through Costa Rica and Nicaragua with a few friends. We started on the Caribbean coast of the former and ended up on the Pacific coast of the latter. There in the middle was La Fortuna where we stayed at the base of a volcano, an ACTIVE one (see the steady little poof streaming out as evidence).
By far this is the leg I was most looking forward to. I have had a longstanding fascination with volcanoes -- they are practically prehistoric and show nature's strength in a simultaneously bold and stoic way (um, and it's also how to destroy the ring that could rule us all). To be up close (ish) and personal with one was one of those bucket list things. Waking up to this mighty beast right at my back door, as brightly colored birds and a family of white-nosed coati scampered by is one of those visuals I won't soon forget.