Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Costa Rica 8

Even though there will be personal pictures*** attached to some of these stories, if you have DSL, Wireless or any other sort of fast internet connection, you might like to follow along using this website: http://earth.google.com

It is satellite pictures of the whole earth and is very good. Most of it is 3D. You will probably be able to find your own house too! Or take a journey down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Or see what Paris looks like from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

So back onto the winding road we went. The bus lumbered its’ way ever upward with vistas of fertile valleys and coffee tree lined hills all around. The favorite ornamental plant in this region seemed to be the hydrangea. Great blue clusters of flowers filled and weighed down the many huge plants we saw. The other plant we saw in abundance growing in people’s yards was the mother-in-law tongue. This was to be a recurring plant everywhere we went. And not the typical houseplant size either. Some of them were well over four feet tall.

Finally we reached the ticket gate entrance to the park that contains Volcano Poas. Everyone had to get off , buy an entrance ticket and then reboard the bus. Another five minutes up the road and the bus pulled into a large tarmac parking lot. We grabbed our things and disembarked. I was all a tingle with excitement. Not only was this to be my first up close view of a volcano, but it looked like the tour I suggested we do was going to be a success!
We saw the sign pointing to the volcano. It was to be a 300 meter (330 yards) walk, all at an incline! (why am I destined to always go places that are either always uphill or contain millions of steps?!) We gradually made our way to the top, stopping along the way to ooh and aah at various plant species and to take photos. Among them was this giant leafed thing which L says locally is called the umbrella plant. We knew we were reaching the summit when all we could see ahead of us was the sky and a piece of rail fence. We approached and leveled out and boom!, there it was. The great crater of Volcano Poas in all its’ glory spread out below us.
Poas Volcano, pics stolen from the web!

To say it was incredible is an understatement. The crater itself contains a strange green colored lake and the wind was carrying the smell of sulpher up from the crater to us. We could see steam rising from several small vents all around the edges and down in the crater. It was awesome. The crater, from edge to edge, is 1.3 km (9/10ths of a mile) and is 300 meters deep. Off to the left was evidence of past eruptions. One could follow the now hardened lava flow that at one time burned its’ way through the forest and down the side of the vast hill. Of course, nothing grew there and we were not allowed onto it.
Although this is still an active volcano, it is not considered a dangerous one or they would not let visitors so close to it. The last major eruption was in 1953. The park has only closed twice since then due to activity coming from Poas. In 1989 there was a minor eruption that sent ash over 1 km into the air and then in 1995 it was closed due to noxious fumes. I can only imagine what that must have been like because it smelled like a failed chemistry lab experiment as it was!
Although we were suitable impressed and glad for having seen a volcano this up close and personal, I would recommend a different way to get there. Next time, I would hire a taxi ($$$$) or try to get a private van. I would not take the special bus. One can see all there is to see and take a ton of pictures in about an hour. Even so, the bus does not return to San Jose until 2:30 PM, leaving one with several hours with nothing to do but wait, sitting on the curb of the parking lot. So I guess my “tour” was ok in that we got to see something really interesting, but it failed logistically. Oh well!

Quiz: Poas is the second largest crater in the world. What is the first? Answer in the next chapter!

*** sadly, there will be few of these. I never saved my CR pictures to disc. I know, dumbass. Those pictures were on one of the computers that was stolen during the burglary last summer. However, L still had some of his so I will be posting some pictures throughout this tale.

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