Volcanos and Coffee in Costa Rica

Beautiful countryside on the trip to Poas
Traveling north, out of San Jose, we were hoping to arrive at our day's destination prior to the fog and clouds that are known to frequent this area. Of the 200 volcanic formations in the country, Parque Nacional Volcano Poas is one of 5 considered to be active, though the last major eruption occurred in 1953. Since this is the most visited park in the country, it is a good idea to avoid the park on weekends, and enter near opening time at 8:30 A.M., if possible.

Alan at Volcano Poas??????
Unfortunately, arriving around 10 A. M., it was already too late. The 1.7 km wide crater was heavily fogged in for the day. Peering down to view the lake, some 300 meters below us, we only saw fog. When not clouded over, it emits sulfurous mud and gases and steaming water into the air. Clouds seemed to be moving fast but we finally decided the crater was not going to clear for us.

Stopping next at the Doka Coffee Plantation, we participated in a
Blue Morpho Butterflies
tour of the processing area, where the beans are separated, dried, stored and roasted. Of course, there is a gift shop for tasting and purchasing your favorite coffee. We decided on a French Roast. This large finca (farm) is a family owned operation which started in the early 1900's and then made the transition to coffee in the 1940's. A butterfly garden, near the restaurant, is home to dozens of varieties, but the Blue Morpho was the one attracting our focus. Rarely pausing for more than a few seconds, catching a photo of this beauty was a challenge.

Catedral de la Mercedes
 In Grecia, we visited the Catedral de la Mercedes. This large red metal church was a prefab building. Built in Belgium, it was shipped to Grecia in 1897 for assembly under the watchful eye of the architect. Spanish tile floors and marble altars provide a beautiful interior. The filagree of metal work over the full length of the top of the church gives it an unusual gingerbread look. The locals decided on a metal church following the destruction of 2 earlier churches, they decided metal would last longer, and so far they are right.

World famous ox carts of Sarchi
Finally, we stopped in Sarchi. Over 200 woodworking craftsmen have workshops in this vicinity. Artisans housed in small bungalows create beautiful wood carvings. The town is known for the brightly painted traditional Costa Rican ox carts which were originally used to transport coffee. The carts are no longer used except as souvenirs, landscape accents or in parades. Sarchi is also home to dozens of furniture stores and and souvenir shops featuring carved rocking chairs, chests, decorative pieces, etc. created by the local craftsmen. It is a popular shopping area for locals and tourist.

The following days, Alan finished his dental work by having the 3 implants completed. This means another trip back to San Jose several months from now for the crowns to be put in place.  We are packing up. Our next stop will be San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala.
Alan next to the giant leaves at the Poas Volcano

Wood carvings of Sarchi
Is there a lake down there???

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