Published: March 8th 2011March 8th 2011
Barb and I left Atenas yesterday morning on the 9:00 bus, as planned. The half hour ride to Alajuela was uneventful...always a good thing;) Barb was just digging out her phone to call Maria Elena to let her know we were there when she drove up. I just love it when a plan comes together!
The drive to La Paz took about an hour and took us through some spectacular country towards Poas Volcano, lush & green with rolling hills dotted with small pueblos with souvenir shops and restaurants to cater to the tourists....which of course we were!
On the way we were fortunate to encounter an elderly Tico with his oxen & beautifully painted oxcart alongside the road....obviously in plain sight for tourists passing by who might want to take photos with his cart & oxen. So we stopped and did just that....you'll be able to see that Kodak moment soon!
It was a beautiful clear morning but as we expected as we climbed higher in elevation and thus towards the rainforest we could see clouds ahead. By noon at the park we were in the cool clouds but it was dry for the most
Another plan that came together perfectly was that Barb's cousin and her partner from New York were just leaving the reception area for the Peace Lodge and Gardens as we drove up! So no need to try to hunt them down! Sally and Chuck were in Costa Rica for just a week checking out different areas. They were leaving first thing this morning. It was nice that Barb could connect with them.
After hugs & hellos they showed us their accommodations at the lodge, which were the standard not luxury fare. When I download all the photos I took from this last trip you'll get a glimpse of how it looks. Their room was a bit rustic and "lodgey" in it's decor with nice amenities such as rock waterfalls on the wall behind the bathtub as well as the back shower wall. They had a stone fireplace and a lovely 4-poster bed.
By this time we were all hungry so we headed to the buffet lunch where there was a nice selection of typical Tico foods that I could eat..YAY!
Since Sally & Chuck received a free Guided tour of the Gardens with their stay
in the lodge we met with the guide around 1:30 to get started. Venessa was a young bilingual Tica who did an excellent job of explaining things and was very patient with us as we took photos along the way.
We began at the Aviary and then proceeded through the other areas and eventually finished up with the frogs. The entire gardens cover quite a large area with many changes in elevation and paths to follow. Everything was done so well...aesthetically as well as for safety. At this point there was an optional hike to the 4 waterfalls, which I opted out on as I was tried and getting cold. So they had a golf cart come to pick my up to take me back to the lodge....a nice service.
On the short ride back the young Tico driver and I spoke about learning English. His English was very good but he admitted that he found it challenging. While we're on the subject I want to make a comment about the guides I have met here in Costa Rica. They were all wonderful. Very knowledgeable, savvy about their work and showed a passion for what they were doing.
All the other North Americans I've talk to say the same thing. I've been told that most of them are attending a university in the area.
Back at the lodge I perused the gift shop and bought a variety of different dark chocolates made by Britt Coffee Company, probably the most famous such company in the country. It wasn't very long before the others returned from their hike.
By this time is was late afternoon and time to begin our journey back to Atenas. We still weren't quite certain just where we needed to catch the bus in Alajuela, where Maria Elena was dropping us off. All we knew that it wasn't by the airport, which is the location for drop off coming from Atenas.
So we stopped for a bite to eat an then went to Pequeno Mundo (Small World in English...a big warehouse where they sell a bit of everything but food for cheap prices). Barb was looking for a couple of items for her casita. Each place we stopped Maria Elena asked people where the bus station was to catch the bus to Atenas. After a variety of answers we compiled them and lo
and behold ended up in the right place!
It was about 7pm by the time Barb and I got on the bus and headed home. We had expected to see taxis around the bust station when we arrived so we could each get back "home" but surprisingly there were none. So Barb called Walter, he has the popular taxi business in Atenas for North Americans and within 10 minutes we had our taxi ride home.
So it was a very good day albeit long but a fun and special way to end my stay here in Costa Rica!
I'm nearly all packed other than last minute stuff that has to wait till the morning. For some reason I'm not able to get and print off my boarding pass ahead of time so I'll be leaving for the airport plenty early. The taxi's picking me up at 7:30 for a 12:20pm flight.
I'm planning to do at least one more blog, maybe not until I get to Maryland, as well as let everyone know when I've downloaded rest of the photos. So stay tuned if you want to....
There are more photos below