Friday, November 5, 2010

COSTA RICA.....our amazing race....leg 2

Team Judd arose and began their journey to 
Volcán Poás National Park, about 19 miles northwest.  Tempted by a charming roadside cafe, they opted to stop and enjoy a second breakfast.  Having just eaten a hotel breakfast of fresh fruit and banana bread, they limited their order to a few empanadas and some hot chocolate.     

Before we had finished and without even the slightest request, the proprietor whipped up some fruit smoothies and set them before us. 
Minutes later and seemingly out of nowhere, this was offered without solicitation.  The language barrier prevented comprehendible conversation and it was impossible to refuse.  The team thought this was some sort of panilla (pancake tortilla) and eagerly baptised the thing with what they assumed was whipped cream and large sugar crystals.    A slight jolt of taste bud shock told them that it was butter and salt that they had diffused so liberally. 

While the Judds were scraping their tongues, the chef had gone down to her garden, picked some carrots, corn, and potatoes, and whipped up an amazing tamale.  In order to prevent certain stomach eruption, the thousands of colones were paid (a measly amount), and Team Judd continued on their journey to the volcano.  
The sight of this bubbling and steaming cauldron, belching clouds of steaming water, was truly astonishing. The volcano provides an excellent  example of the effects of acid rain. Around the crater, and for several miles downwind, the vegetation is stunted brown and black by the tainted moisture that precipitates from the omnipresent clouds near the peak. Ansel still would only be impressed if it was oozing glowing red lava.  

Lake Botos, the southern lake, fills an inactive crater, which last erupted 7500BC.  It is cold and clear, and is surrounded by a cloud forest located within the Poás Volcano National Park at almost 9000 feet above sea level..
Everything was so gigantic and surreal. The team kept reminding themselves that this was real and not a plastic Disneyland version of reality.  

After barely avoiding buying an entire souvenir shop, Team Judd drove though picturesque coffee plantations, bursting fruit stands, and small boys selling big bags of cheese.  The next stop of the day was the La Paz Waterfall Gardens which boasted of five waterfalls, a cloud forest and rain forest, hiking trails, an aviary with 40 species of birds, toucan feeding, marmoset monkeys, insect exhibit, butterfly observatory , two-toed sloths, Capuchin monkeys, black-handed spider monkeys, hummingbird garden, serpentarium, Jaguar, pumas, ocelots, jaguarundi, margays, casita de la paz, ranarium (frog exhibit), and an unforgettable buffet.  

Team  must next tendure a terrifying bus ride back to the parking lot.  Savanna faces a personal demon of fear and chooses not to look. 

The final portion of the day was filled with more driving.  The scenery was beautiful. The roads were atrocious.

The kids slept and read through it all.  

Just as the sun is setting, Arenal Volcano comes into magnificent view.  This is the location of the next leg of the race. 

1 comment:

melissa said...

I want more! I can't imagine any of it really. Thanks for the report. How cool is that volcano. You were right by a volcano, do you realize that? Wow.