Costa Rica 2009:
Day 2 - San José


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Costa Rica 2009: [Day 1 - San José] [Day 2 - San José] [Day 3 - Tortuguero] [Day 4 - Tortuguero] [Day 5 - Fortuna] [Day 6 - Fortuna] [Day 7 - Guanacaste] [Day 8 - Puntarenas] [Day 9 - Central Valley]

Saturday, June 20: We were up bright and early, which was pretty much the pattern for the whole tour. We headed to the hotel restaurant again for a delicious buffet breakfast. Look at that delicious fresh mango and fried plantains! Yummy.
Let's check out the weather -- sunny and gorgeous, which also matched the pattern of our trip. We had rain only when it was convenient, and sun at most other times.
The mountains northwest of us were our destination for today.
We headed back to the hotel lobby to begin our adventure.
It's a lovely hotel.
But it is not without its dangers, as Jill and Tom found when Debbie told them to look up.
It turns out that it is just a little humid in Costa Rica.
After selecting our seats on the bus, we were off through the city of San José, ......
... admiring the scenery ...
... and the Burger Kings, which featured Star Trek ads and Auto-King, whatever that is.
Costa Rica also has McDonald's, offering pequeños precios (small prices) for a McNífica, which we sampled in Argentina last January.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Pan-American Highway, also last seen by us in Argentina.
Here's a giant statue of coffee beans, which we learned more about on Day 7.
Tropical weather allows for creative gardening.
The scenery changed to agriculture, such as the coffee bushes seen here.
This gentleman was available for photo opportunities with his traditional painted oxcart. For more oxcarts, see Day 9.
There were hills devoted to growing tropical plants for sale.
There were goats ...
... and there were cows ...
... and there were stunning views at every turn as we went further up the mountainside.
Finally, we reached our destination: Parque Nacional Volcán Poás.
It's about a half mile walk to Poás Volcano.
The walk is easy and the road is lined with amazing rainforest plants. This is a gunnera plant, dubbed the "poor man's umbrella."
And this is the same thing, with old leaves pruned, a new leaf starting to open, and the brush-like flower in bloom.
No idea what this is, but it's big and bizarre.
In no time at all, we were at the crater's edge. It was sunny and the volcano was fully visible.
Here it is close up, bubbling and steaming away.
It was nice to have Jill along as Tom and Debbie's personal photographer.
There is plenty of room for everyone at the lookout point, ...
... and even more a few steps down.
Looking to the right, we could see clouds making their way toward us.
We decided to stick around to see what would happen.
Going, ...
... going, ...
gone! As we were leaving, another tour was showing up. Sorry, folks. Fortunately, weather comes and goes quickly around here.
So, we headed back down to the visitor center, admiring more plants along the way.
We think this is the thorny bush that inspired the volcano's name.
Pretty flowers.
Pretty fern.
Soon-to-be-pretty fern.
A gunnera leaf with a small puddle inside.
A gunnera leaf fully expanded.
Squirrel!
Moss, lichens, and tiny plants.
Shiny leaves.
Back at the visitor center, we loaded up on some snacks, both American ...
... and Costa Rican. These things were the size of a bracelet and tasted like Cheez-Its. Delicious!
This little guy had bright yellow legs.
Yes, Tom, I got a photo of the bus.
As we were leaving, clouds were starting to roll into the parking lot ...
... and onto the countryside on the way back down.
Here's a Costa Rican cemetery, with above-ground crypts covered in what appears to be bathroom tile.
More scenic agricultural countryside, ...
... and gardens sprinkled with blue hydrangea plants ...
... and more creative topiary.
Lunch was at Restaurant Mirador del Valle, tucked into the side of the mountain.
Before we ate, we were treated to a cultural performance.
It featured smoke, feathers, and three beautiful performers.
This lunch was one of only two meals not served buffet-style. We gave our choice of fish, beef, or chicken in the morning and our meals were ready when the performance was over.
Tom loves Central American food. He was more than happy to eat beans and rice at every meal.
A glass blower was at the restaurant crafting tiny glass frogs which were available for sale on a table nearby.
Around back, there was a deck to admire the views. San José is visible in the distance.
The real scenery, though, was the 20-foot-trail of leaf cutter ants in the back yard. They came to and from the coffee field, ...
... marched up this tree, ...
... and diligently cut pieces off the leaves and lugged them home. This guy is half way through the cutting process.
Here's a little video of the ants.
Speaking of coffee field, here's a closeup of a coffee bush. The red beans are the ripe ones.
Our little friend, Orchy, joined us on our trip, as usual.
Back down the mountain and into San José again, we passed this cute little florist. Even in a country surrounded by beauty, there's a thriving market for cut flowers.
Our next stop was Museo del Oro Precolombino Álvaro Vargas Echeverría, also known as the Gold Museum.
And gold there is ...
... plus other cool stuff like feathers. The tiny specks on the right in this photo are hummingbird feathers.
At one of the hands-on exhibits, Jill tried on a particularly fetching headdress.
Such a shame they didn't have these in the gift shop, because this would be a lovely accent for our garden.
One of the coolest things in the museum was in an adjecent art gallery where many of the paintings were made accessible for people with visual impairments. The paintings were described in Braille, ...
... and rendered in touchable 3D.
It was pouring out when we left, so we got rained on for the 30 seconds it took to get from the underground entrance of the museum to the bus.
Back at the hotel, we decided that we were hungry for something other than buffet food, so we donned our waterproof anoraks, passed the park in front of the hotel, ...
... and headed down to Burger King.
Someone at this table loves the King and was delighted to be there. The rest of us were just thrilled to be eating French fries.
Debbie ordered the Hamburguesa Crunch from the Super Menú Económico. The crunch comes from some sort of Doritos-style chips inside.
We admired the local architecture on the short walk back.
There she is: the majestic Aurola Holiday Inn.
Back in our adjoining rooms, Jill read her book while we packed for the next day's adventure.
Jill was eighteen and of legal age to drink in Costa Rica (and nearly every other country in the world except the US), so the three of us headed to the hotel bar for a drink. Of course, our first selection was the local beer, Imperial.

Tom told a fascinating story while Jill feigned interest.

Day 3 >


Costa Rica 2009: [Day 1 - San José] [Day 2 - San José] [Day 3 - Tortuguero] [Day 4 - Tortuguero] [Day 5 - Fortuna] [Day 6 - Fortuna] [Day 7 - Guanacaste] [Day 8 - Puntarenas] [Day 9 - Central Valley]

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