Day 3: Getting up and Getting wet

Published: February 19th 2010
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Day 3

The Tour BusThe Tour BusThe Tour Bus

Having arrived at the summit of Volcano Irazu, we were met by a biting wind and cloud.
Today was an early start. After checking out of the rooms, we loaded the bus with our bags and settled in for journey through dappled sunlight towards the former capital of Costa Rica - Cartago.

The traffic was busy and chaotic, 4x4s jostled with commuter buses to occupy the same space on the road as light goods vehicles, whilst mopeds darted in and out like hummingbirds visiting flower after flower.

Like San Jose, earthquakes have taken their toll on the glamorous buildings of yesteryear to the extend that none survive. The town is a dreadful blend of modern single storey buildings.

Heading through Cartago, we made our way up winding roads towards Irazu. This smoking volcano sits within a national park and apparently towers above the town. However, today, with low clouds, nothing was towering over the town, apart from the vultures circling overhead!

Climbing ever upwards, fine drizzle began to cover the windscreen although the sun was determined to evaporate the clouds. The landscape showed more agriculture the higher we climbed, with crops of potatoes and onions sprouting in the rich volcanic soil.

After an hour or so, we finally arrived near the summit and entered the Parque Nacional Volcan Irazu which, on clear days, offers fantastic views to the Caribbean. Not only did we not have that view, we also didn't have a view beyond the end of the car park. Unperturbed, we stoically got off the bus into the cold wind and rain and tried in vain to catch a glimpse of, well, anything. Nothing. Just cloud

Getting Old and Getting Wet

Leaving the summit, we headed back down the volcano and out of the cloud. But not out of the rain. Heading east towards Turrialba, we stopped for lunch at a small soda where the pollo y ajo was too be recommended. Out in the rain, a hummingbird darted from flower to flower whilst, again, vultures circled.

After a very cheap lunch, we set of again, through the rain, to the Monumento Nacional Guayabo. Although not very large, only 5%!h(MISSING)as been excavated, this site was not discovered by the Spanish and therefore offers an insight into the indigenous peoples. Needless to say, on getting out of the bus, the heavens opened - and stayed open. Despite this, we took as guide, and walked down to the site which was occupied from around 1000BC to 1400AD. The residents were superb architects in the management of water and their structures still function to this day.

With funding so tight, all that was visible was a short section of the 8km road into the jungle, the customs houses and a couple of the major dwellings in the centre. In addition, a number of petroglyphs have been found around the site, although their purpose is unknown.

After a couple of hours on the site, we returned to the bus and headed to our overnight stop at Turrialba.

Additional photos below
Photos: 7, Displayed: 7


White-nosed CoatiWhite-nosed Coati
White-nosed Coati

Our first encounter with a native Costa Rican animal - if you exclude the cat, dogs, goats, horses, cows ...

View across the small part of the site that has been excavated towards the rainforest, which did much to protect (and destroy) the site.

Status is determined not by the size of the house, but by the size of the foundations. A conical house is built on these stones.

The stone foundation is clear, with the stone steps leading into the house visible on the left.

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