Poas Volcano and Gold Museum

Trip Start Apr 04, 2009
Trip End Apr 14, 2009

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Alajuela,
Monday, April 6, 2009

Today was a busy day.  We were up early to have a buffet breakfast.  It was a nice combination of the traditional Western options like toast, croisant, or cereal, mixed with some Costa Rican dishes like tamales, rice, and baked casserole dish with pastry in it.  Fresh gauva and orange juice to drink.  A delicious fruit plate with guava, mango and various melons hit the spot.

The Caravan Tours bus departed shortly after 7:30am and we drove straight to the Poas volcano.  The drive is a bit harrowing along the winding steep inclines along the hillside.  Many points of the road were one lane only and most bridges could only squeeze one way traffic at a time.  We drove through many small towns all with their own unique charm.  There were various road side vendors selling souveniers, produce and various other goods.

The Poas volcano area is known for it's Strawberries.  We stopped at a small market and sampled them.  The hillsides are covered in large black tarps, similar to how Ginsing is grown in the Okanogan valley in BC.  This is the only area in Costa Rica that grows strawberries.  The area is also well known for it's mangoes which based on the samples we have feasted on during our meals, is quite accurate.  Our tour guide Karen is quite funny.  She is still learning English, so many of her pronunciations are a bit off.  She kept going on about the "sheeper" who "sheeps" things and we thought she was either talking about chips or shipping.  She was talking about Sheppards who look after sheep.

Once we arrived at the volcano parking lot, we did a short hike up to the crater (pronounced creator by our guide Karen - which is hilarious because she was saying we are going to walk on the creator and I was quite worried about offending their Gods).  Along the way up we saw various humming birds, but they were too fast and in constant motion so it was impossible to catch them on film.  The view from the observation deck was impressive, although I was hoping for bubbling magma.  Instead it was a pool of gray with some steam billowing out here and there.  Down to the valley you could see the various lava flows cascading in to the low lying clouds.  We were lucky to have a clear view of the crater as most days the clouds impede the view.

We broke from the group and did a short intense hike up to the lagoon off a side trail.  Good for the calves!  It was a beautiful lush area with crystal blue water.  The temperature was pleasant due to the elevation (over 8000 ft above sea level).  We made it back to the bus and started the descent back to the valley below.

We stopped at a fruit stand where they hawked some local wines and cheese.  I browsed the souveniers, but they were WAY over priced.  We sampled the local strawberries and were tempted to buy some mangoes. There was a small aisle of groceries.  I got a photo of the "chips" aisle (not to be confused with sheeps).  For those 30 Rock fans, you may find some comedy in this.

Further down the hillside we stopped Mirador Del Valle for a sit down lunch.  There was an option of chicken, sea bass, or "meat" (beef).  This was accompanied by the ever present black beans and rice, with a slaw type mix of veggies and some sort of cooked root vegetable.  They served strawberry milk or juice with the meal and finished it off with rice pudding.  One of the people on the trip is celebrating her birthday, so a cake was presented to her.  A bit stale, but never turn down cake as Sophie would say.  From the porch out back they had a huge panaromic view of the San Jose valley area.  We saw hawks and vultures circling above, riding the wind currents.  Apparently the vultures are a beloved bird in Costa Rica as it is believed by their ancestors that when the vulture picked at a deceased persons bones, it was taking them to the after life.  Vultures and hawks are common in their art and gold.

After lunch we drove back in to San Jose and stopped at the Gold Museum which was very similar to the National Museum we saw the day before, but it had some very interesting local art.  I got in trouble for taking some video - the security guard made me delete the footage I had taken.  Strange, as they allowed photography as long as you didn't use a flash.  I took photos of the most interesting stuff.  Some of them are a bit blurry due to no flash.

We were back at the hotel by 3:15pm and we are resting up before dinner.  We have to pack tonight as we are off to Tortuguerro tomorrow for two nights.  We won't have any access to the Internet while there, so the next entry won't be until Thursday sometime.  We hand our luggage over to the bus at 5:45am and won't see our suit cases until Thursday as well.  Everything we need for the next two days has to be in our carry on (or in my case a back pack).  The lodge we are staying at is only accessible by boat and has not TV.  We need to bring a flash light as we are very remote in the area.  We will get to see the giant green sea turtles coming in to lay their eggs on the beach and we will do a cruise in the mangroves where we may see crocodiles, caymans, and various water foul.

So far the food has been excellent and we are eating very healthy.  The rest of the people in the tour seem quite nice.  The kids haven't been out of hand at all, but they are acting their age, which you would expect.  There are no crazies in the group (at least that we have identified yet).  Another couple from Canada is here with their daughter.  They are from Windsor, so that makes three groups from Canada now.

I think it is time for a hot tub. 
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cartercostarica on

Great stuff
Hey, what a fantastic day - and Steve, if the volcano turns red - RUN
Steve, who is the young beauty that is hanging onto you?
Missing you (and you know who)
20C in Vancouver today and the same tomorrow except that I will be in Fort St John
Glad that your trip(s) are so great - looks really wonderful - glad that you are having such a great time and seeing some wonderful things
Love, Ian/Dad

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