Perhaps Some Pre-Planning Would Be Helpful

Trip Start Feb 01, 2012
Trip End Feb 21, 2012

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What I did
Jardin Botanico Else Kientzler, Sanchi

Flag of Costa Rica  , San Jose,
Friday, February 3, 2012

Today I thought I had it together.  I quickly organized the stuff I would need, including my raincoat, in my daypack, and was ready to go a little after breakfast.  I asked the desk clerk how to get to the bus station to go to the Botanical Garden.  I thought it would be famous.  He wasn't aware of it so asked for the address.  Oops, I had to go look it up on the lobby computer.  Once I got the Frommers website and it gave directions, he tried to call - was it the bus station or the garden.  Anyway, there was no answer.  He started to tell me that it wasn't a good idea to walk to the bus station; a taxi would be better.  Better still would have been an organized tour.  If not that, he could get his taxi person - that he knew could be trusted - to take me there and back for $80. since it was 50 km away.

I declined the taxi there and back but relented on the one to the bus station.  While Jose the driver was taking me there, he tried to negotiate a deal for the garden.  I stayed firm and was dropped off at the bus station.  There didn't seem to be a ticket office but a young man at a counter answered my questions although it wasn't easy because his English was about as good as my Spanish.  However, successful communication revealed that the bus to Sarchi didn't leave until 12:15 pm and would arrive after 2 pm.  I needed to catch a different bus to get to Grecia for the 5 pm bus back to San Jose so I could make my meeting at 7 pm.  Some slow arithmetic led me to believe that this approach wasn't viable so I walked back from the bus station to the hotel, told the desk clerk that he was right, and the taxi man was still willing to take me there.  He joked it would now be $100 dollars instead of the $70 price he had given me when trying to convince me.  I hoped he was joking.  I really wanted to go to this place and hoped it would be worth it.

With the aid of his telephone GPS and a person on the phone, he got us there after only one wrong turn or rather, he went past the turn.  It seemed a longer ride than 50 km and took at least an hour.  We passed fields of sugar cane, a processing plant for Cacique, a sugar cane alcoholic drink, some fields of coffee bushes and trees flowering with gorgeous orange, yellow and pale orange blossoms.  The bright orange flowered trees are called colon after Christopher Columbus.  I have to look them up.

We got to the Jardin Botanico and I paid my admission fee with a credit card.  It was not cheap, but reasonable.  I got a map and the admissions man pointed out the preferred route - a big loop ending back at the Entrance building.  I wasn't exactly sure what Jose intended to do, but I did realize that he wasn't going to be able to take fares while he was up here.  It was not exactly mountainous but very, very hilly to get to Sarchi.  I joked (or was I really joking) that it would take me twice as long as the average 1 - 1 1/2 hrs to visit the garden.

I set off on the trail and immediately started taking photos.  I took a lot of photos but I can't say that it was because there were special plants that I wanted to capture for memory (if that were the case, I should have photographed more labels)- it was more - was there something striking about them, or were the light patterns special, or something of that nature.  The labeling was in Latin and Spanish.  I guess I would have benefited from English translations, but they may not have meant anything to me anyway.  I enjoyed the river walk although it was steamy hot.  I stripped off a few layers. There were tons of butterflies and I would have loved a butterfly photo like Astrid's but I got nowhere near them and they were flying very fast.  I saw one big blue butterfly as big as my hand but s/he flew away too.  I enjoyed just seeing them.

I saw some of the various palms but missed the hibiscus somehow.  I did see some lovely bromeliads and heliconias.  I wasn't sure I was following the map very well but I was always going right so I was getting the maximum perimeter.  I had to dodge a lot of sprinklers - clutching my camera under my top shirt so it wouldn't get well, but my running was grotesque as my daypack bounced on my back.  I don't know what the Sendero Fresco was, but it appeared to be blocked off so I went up to the fruit tree ridge where I saw coffee trees and some other fruit that I couldn't identify from the labels.  There was a beautiful passion fruit vine with some flowers on a pergola by the picnic area on top of a hill.  Next was a lovely little path along a stream, or channel, that overlooked the playground and led to the succulents.  There was an agave that must have been 8' tall.  It was huge.  If there had been anyone around, I would have asked for my photo in front of it - or the side --- for scale.  Last was the orchid garden and, although not everything was blooming, there were a number of flowering orchids.  I had a hard time finding them.  I would walk past, look back, and see that I had missed something.  As I was coming out from under some branches, a gardener pointed to a flowering orchid.  It was good that he did, because this one was quite special, white with purple dots on it.  I hope some of the photos come out.  Even with the macro feature on the SLR, I still manage to get totally blurry pics sometimes.

So guiltily I asked Jose if I had been away too long.  He was very gracious and said no, I should enjoy my visit here.  Part of me agreed since I was paying a lot more than I wanted to get here and I should be able to stay as long as I wanted.  On the other hand, I realize that it is a hardship for Jose if he didn't bargain on my staying so long.  We headed back.  Jose is a fast, aggressive driver and he upped the ante on the way back.  I could tell the poor man was stressed as we began to encounter more and more traffic.  He said Fridays were always bad from 3ish on to 7:30 pm.  It was about 2:30 when we left and we didn't get back to the hotel until after 4.  I had wanted to get dropped off by the Cathedral but didn't want to inconvenience him any more.  I got dropped off at the hotel.

I walked back from the hotel to central San Jose, saw a dome and walked
there.  It turned out to be the Cathedral.  It is a large building but
looks larger on the outside than in.  I went in and took a few photos
but after the Mezquita in Cordoba, I was disappointed.  I looked around
for a bakery and walked quite a few blocks down the main street in the
other direction when I could just have headed back to the hotel because
there was a big bakery just on the way.  I did get some kind of cookie
with dulce de leche.  It was OK.

I have eaten my crackers and cheese because I didn't know whether the tour leader had late dinner plans.  We'll see.  I will be getting a roommate tonight.  I didn't have to switch rooms,
which was good.  She hasn't shown up yet and it is 6:30.  Our meeting is
in half an hour.  Maybe I will spruce up a bit and go out and see if anyone is around since I have finished with this for now and don't have time to play with pics.

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