Monday, January 14, 2008

Costa Rica 7

I was really excited about the day trip planned for our first full day in CR. This is one that I had researched and recommended that we do. I was just a little apprehensive about it though. I vividly recalled my attempts to be a tour leader in Veracruz last year. The day that all the city tour buses and harbor tour boats were closed! I’m sure that B and L remembered my skills also but they were willing to give it shot.

As the bus was to leave at 8:30am for this trip, we were up and about very early. The bus terminal was quite a ways away and L suggested that we start out walking to it and then grab a taxi along the way. So we walked. And walked. And even walked some more! At every corner I expected L to stop and see if we wanted to hail a cab, but that was not to be. I guess he thought it good practice and conditioning for us to walk the whole distance, but I did not appreciate it at all. Although I swore we walked at least 53 city blocks, L assured us that that was not the case. I was so tired and miserable by the time we reached the bus station, I could have cared less about any stupid old volcanoes. My spirits lifted though once we had our bus tickets in hand, I had a good smoke and rested my weary muscles a bit. ***

We were going to Volcano Poas. It was to be a 45 minute bus ride to the city of Alajuela and then another 24 miles past that. Once past the built up area of San Jose and out of Alajuela, we started to get into the true hill country of Costa Rica that surrounds San Jose and forms the valley in which San Jose sits. The scenery was incredible. Vast rolling hills that swoop down into fertile valleys. Great areas of coffee trees climbing uphill and down, forming vast areas of dark green. There were also many areas covered with a black screening material. We found out later that these were flower plantations and the screening was to provide shade. They weren’t all that pleasant to look at though. It did provide a brief rest for the eye though. All that green was getting a bit wearing. Costa Rica is mostly a green, green and even more green country this time of year. Remember, they have two “seasons”, green and dry. We were there in the midst of green season, in other words, the rainy season.

Just when I was beginning to wonder how much further we had to go, mostly because I was becoming aware of a need to go pee, we pulled over into a little fruit stand/gift shop. This stop is evidently prearranged on the route because the people working there seemed to expect a big busload of people and were ready for us. This was my first experience with gaudy, cheaply made trinkets in CR and I was no more impressed with what they had to offer than I am with the same type of places in Mexico. What I did find interesting though was the fruits.

There were a few that I recognized; bananas, strawberries, apples. But also many that I did not. Among them was the rambutan. This is a small, red fruit that is quite hairy on the outside.


One of the salespeople saw us eyeing the fruit and suggested we try one. L gladly reached into the basket and grabbed one for each of us. He showed us how you peel open the outer hairy skin and the fruit inside just kind of pops out. It looked like a big grape with the skin peeled off. He said they were tough and that we should just pop the critters into our mouths and suck on it. So we did.

Shortly thereafter I walked across the road and gracefully spat mine out. It was horrible. If this was fruit, I wanted nothing to do with it. It had a fleshy outside that covered some kind of hard seed in the middle. One was supposed to suck on it and get all the fleshy stuff off, much like eating an olive that has the pit in it. The only problem was, I immediately had the image that I was sucking on an eyeball. It so totally grossed me out that I had to spit it out. Meanwhile, B and L were greedily nibbling and sucking the vile flesh away from the seeds and quite enjoying the experience. Maybe they have more cannibal in them than I do!

Back on the bus with no harm done and a bag of Costa Rican coffee stuffed in my day bag. With no further ado or stops, we were off to the Volcano!

*** I have peripheral artery disease in my legs so walking any distance, or steps, is a killer for me.

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