Poas Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
This morning we set out with 46 others to go to Mount Poas and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Before we left the hotel we were able to eat breakfast. After that we sat in the lobby of the hotel waiting for the rest of our companions to assemble.
By about 07:00 the others arrived. At about that same time the two buses arrived. By the time we were all seated and the buses began to roll it was 07:30. That meant it was the beginning of rush hour in San Jose. With one exception, we were going against traffic so the ride was not too bad.
We found ourselves with Marbella Tours. Our tour guide was Eddie and our driver was Alonso. The route took us northwest out of San Jose along the Pan American Highway. Turning almost due north we went through the small town of Alajuela.
Continuing north we could see the rising volcanic mountain range ahead of us blanketed with clouds. Since it was sunny and clear at the lower elevations we were hopeful the clouds would dissipate by the time we reached the crater.
Our first stop was to be he Doka Coffee Estate. Eddie mentioned that coffee was the number one crop in Costa Rica since the 1700’s. In fact he referred to the painting in the National Theater that Leslie and I saw the previous Sunday.
Riding along I was struck with the road construction. In many places it literally sliced right through the mountain side. The very steep sides that were created as a result were not reinforced at all. Because of that, Eddie informed us that mudslides happen frequently when there are periods of prolonged rain showers.
About 300 meters from the coffee plantation we passed “Juan Dolar” on the side of the road. He was walking along with a very colorfully painted cart and two large oxen.
The buses pulled over at the coffee estate and let everyone out. We had parked in front of a small building that served as a coffee bar and gift shop. The name of it was La Casa del Café la Luisa. Below and behind the building were the fields of coffee plants. To me, the plants looked like small, full trees. Most of them seemed to be seven or eight feet tall. There were some blossoms and some coffee beans still on the plants. Eddie had mentioned the annual harvest goes from roughly November to February.
After wandering around a bit, taking photos, I met Leslie back in the coffee/gift shop. Of course we had to get a couple magnets and a pound of coffee. That made us anxious to get home so we could try the coffee and add the magnets to our refrigerator collection. So we would not have to wait quite so long we bought and shared a cup of coffee there.
We emerged from the shop to find “Juan Dolar” across the street. Eddie said that was the man’s nickname. He lets people take pictures of him, his oxen, and cart. For every person clicking the camera he asks for one dollar.
As our trip continued, Eddie regaled us with one story after another and one fact after another. He made the trip quite interesting. One of the factoids he shared was that the minimum wage in Costa Rica is $315 U.S. per month. I think he meant the average wage. He also talked about the typical morning meal of rice and beans called Gallo Pinto.
The higher we went the darker, cloudier, and cooler it became. As we traveled along Eddie collected our fee for the day’s activities, $75 each.
We arrived at the bus parking area at Poas Volcano National Park and disembarked. It was very foggy, cool, and misty. At times visibility was between 100 and 200 feet.
The walk from the parking area to the crater was probably 600 or 700 meters. It was a steady uphill climb but it was not too steep.
At the crater overlook all we could see were clouds. Along our way back there were all sorts of very colorful flowers and beautiful green foliage.
Thankfully it never really rained on us while we were there.
On the trip down the mountain we stopped at a little tourist spot, Fresas de Volcan (Volcano Strawberries). They specialized in fresh strawberries as well as strawberry wine. Oddly enough we did not care for the wine; it was very sweet. At that location we were back below the clouds.
Everyone got back on the bus and our adventure continued.