Up Poás

Our first full day in Costa Rica, we were headed to the Arenál volcano, but we decided to detour to see another volcano: Volcán Poás. My brilliant husband, who lived in Costa Rica for three months a few years ago, remembered visiting there before. So we dug out our maps, consulted the GPS, and headed that direction, leaving the Hemingway Inn behind.

The drive up there was beautiful, and I think I probably drove my traveling companions crazy by remarking about 50 times how glad I was that we rented a car so we could experience everything at our own pace.

Also, it meant I could shout, “Stop the car! I want to take a picture of that stream!”

Spread out in a valley, San José is beautiful too.

The GPS took us right to the Poás national park, which was just where we needed to be. After stopping at the cafeteria for the prerequisite coffee for the Dutch man, we headed down the path, brave pregnant woman in tow. She got some long looks from 60-year-old tourists, but she outpaced them all.

So here’s the volcano, spewing toxic steam.

The colors and the bareness of the landscape were in stark contrast to the jungle vegetation all around.

There was a ten minute limit on the photo taking platform, so we had to snap our group shot quickly and make way for other people who wanted to pose on the platform.

Later we found out we happened to visit on a rare clear day. Apparently lots of times, you can’t see the crater because of fog. But we got lucky here! You’ll see in a future blog post how UNlucky we were in seeing our main goal.

I thought the crater might be all there was. But from the crater, a small trail led toward “La Laguna” (the lake), so we followed it. (This was our no plan strategy. “Want to see what’s up there?” “Uh, ok. Sounds good!”)

And the hardcore pregnant woman hiked that trail along with us until we made it up to the lake. I thought the lake looked like the perfect hidden swimming spot, at least until someone told me you couldn’t swim there, because of all the … minerals? chemicals? toxins? (yucky skin eating stuff) in the lake as a result of being near the escaping volcanic gasses from the crater.

But how perfect would this be in your backyard?

I can see some wooden steps through the jungle down to a little dock, where a small sailboat waits.

From the lake it was back down the mountain, this time on another trail. After we passed the friendly-looking paved part, the trail was much steeper than what we had come up.

On our way down, we passed a terribly sweaty, overweight American woman going up. As she sponged sweat off her forehead with a tissue, she asked us if what was ahead of her was harder than what she had just done. Expecting the tail to flatten out as we got closer to the bottom, we assured her it only got harder.

Then we continued down the area she had just come up, a straight, plunging, slippery path. Oops. We were wrong. She had already conquered the hardest part.

But I guess she made it to the top, and we made it to the bottom where we peeled off hiking shoes and piled back into the car. And the superwoman pregnant lady took it all in stride.

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