Monday, July 14, 2008

Turrialba Volcano National Park

Friday night ended pretty early for us. Kate Neto and I didn’t feel like cooking so we headed to Rorhmoser Plaza and ate at Pane y Vino had a couple drinks and some delicious pizza. (procuitto y arugula) It reminded me of Fritti in Atlanta. There was also a pretty big decision made that night. We are going to live with least for now. Since Neto is only staying until October (then returning to Atlanta to do his lights) we thought it would be easier/cheaper/more fun for me if I am living with someone after he leaves. Plus the 3 of us are having fun together, cooking, and doing cross-fit (exercise) everyday. We are going to play it by ear…..if we see an apt we love……….we'll see. For now though, I can join the Multi Spa gym that Kate (and several others in my office) belongs to without feeling guilty for spending so much ….its a little pricey at $600/year…..more than I paid at LA Fitness in Atlanta…..but as I am quickly learning ……Costa Rica isn’t really cheap! Hmmmm I wonder if it has anything to do with the large amount of foreigners that live here????????
We made big plans to get up early Saturday morning (which we did) and made our way to the Pavas Market. I know I talked about this before (this is my 3rd time there) but I had a different experience this time, and I took some really great (telling) photos. For example, this time I tried on clothes???
Yes, I bought this cute cotton shirt for 3000 colones ($6) I tried it on right there… has an open back, so cute!!!! Of course you cant tell because the shirt I was wearing was the same color is my favorite, I cant stop!!!
Kate introduced Ernesto to momonchino. Avery weird, but beautiful fruit. It is surprisingly tasty too. You peel open the spikey cover and there is a sweet white fruit inside, which you have to suck off the seed. Here, Kate demonstrates: I love this picture of the little girl in front of the stand. Notice the camoflauge skirt and pink boots. Classic.
Also the one of this “onion man” …..there is just something about it…
I had to have a glass of fresh carrot-orange juice and a coconut water…..I wanted to get hydrated for the next event of the day…cross-fit at the La Sabana park. Ernesto has been a bit obsessed with this cross-fit craze (thanks Tim!) He is checking the website every night to see what the workout is for the following day….the good part is that we worked out everyday this week!!! YES!! The workout was short, only 30 minutes…that’s not bad right? But that is the deceiving thing with cross-fit, it doesn’t sound like much, but you are using so many muscles… will feel it. As I did this 30 minute workout (24 lunges, 12 full sit-ups, 10 back extensions and 10 tricep dips…repeated without rest for 30 minutes) I wondered “is this really a good idea the day before we are going to hike a volcano?”
Even though we bought all our fruits and veges at the outdoor market, we needed other food for the week. This is a very new concept for Ernesto and me. We were DAILY shoppers. Decide what to make for dinner and walk to the grocery store. Not going to work here, we need to do a bit of thinking. We went to HiperMas, basically Wal-mart…actually Walmart owns it. It is in Escazu and so before dinner, we went shopping. I don’t want to ever go there again, I don’t like it….just like Walmart in the US. It is just too overwhelming, too crowded and takes WAY TOO MUCH TIME. We were in there for an hour and a half!!! I have never filled up a grocery cart like this before. $250 later..... we were stocked The 3 of us wanted to eat at Taj Mahal, the ONLY Indian restaurant in San Jose. I was craving it so bad…not that I don’t love the food here, but I haven’t had Indian in almost 2 months. It is my second favorite cuisine; I can't deprive myself like that anymore. It was so worth the wait too. The restaurant was beautiful, service great and the food authentically satisfying. We ate Chenna Masala(spicy chickpeas), Chicken Tika, and Goat Curry...and of course raita (cucumber yogurt), rice and nan. Damn, I love Indian food!! I invited Ricardo to go hiking with us on Sunday. We told him to be at our place at 6am. Kate picked Volcan Turrialba for our day trip. You have to leave early so you can hike before the rain hits. Also the clouds could easily block the view of the volcano completely. It was a little over one hour drive, and we actually got on the road by 7am……not bad for 4 people…..especially when one of them is named Nester. On our drive we passed through the town of Cartago and saw a beautiful Basilica. Even though it was early, once we got into the mountains, the clouds were pretty low. It was still gorgeous though....
Almost to the park, we passed Oscar on the road. We stopped to ask him how much further we had to go and then offered him a ride. It was less than a mile...nothing compared to the 2-3 hour hike he said he had ahead of him.He was pretty toasted (smelly too) and it was only 9am, .....thats how they roll here...makes the journey more interesting? Check out his hung down to his knee. He asked Ernesto, "Are you sure you want to give me a ride? Your not scared?" ....ayyyy little grandpa, go ahead and get in!! maybe drunk, but your not scary...para nada!
Before starting the hike we stopped at the Turrialba Lodge at the base of the volcano, it seemed to be a cozy place, but the part I like the best was this tree that was full of hummingbirds. I went right up to the feeders and they just buzzed around me like little airplanes. They were beautifully irradescent!Turrialba Volcano National Park, or in Spanish, Parque Nacional Volcan Turrialba is a National Park in the Central Volcanic Conservation Area of Costa Rica in Cartago Province. The plants were huge and I recognized so many of them.....that were house plants in Ohio. This is one of my favorites due to the name "Sombrilla Pobre" which means poor mans umbrella.The actual hike only took us about an hour. Not very long, but it was a darn good climb. Some of us were serious climbers........and others were serious jokers.....
SUVs kept passing us....WUSSES!! We only stopped for "picture breaks".....Most of us anyway.....
The last 10 minutes got really steep. We were up more that 10,000 feet. The higher we went you could really see the foliage looked a bit silvery grey from the ash. The volcano is still active although the last major eruptions were between 1864 and 1868. Now the "activity" is limited to sulfuric steam/vapors and fumarole activity. Because of this, it is recommended that you stay at the top for no more than 20 minutes. The clouds were really starting to close in when we got to the top....The crater is pretty far down though, so when we looked down over the fence, we were still able to see the crater perfectly.
It didnt take us much time to descend, and at the bottom of the volcano there was a Tienda de Quesos...a cheese store that was as small as a closet.We tried a couple diferent ones and ended up buying both. One was a mild cheese and the other was encased in volcanic ash and really strong! A "must have" after climbing Turrialba! I read that there was a botanical garden near the center of town in Turrialba, and after the hike we were heading down to have a bite to eat anyway, so we stopped in to check it was only 1pm. We seemed to be the only ones in the garden, and we made it around in less than an hour. The garden is home to an Spanish school and an agronomy labaratory. The trees were impressive, some of the largest I have seen....seems they are doing some experimenting here......The bamboo was on crack as well.... Have you EVER???????
Here I am in the greenhouse with the 5 million species of palms.
I really liked these 2 flowering ones. Can you spot the hummingbird on the yellow flower?

This plants' leaves were ALMOST big enough for me to hide big A$$ gets in the way sometimes.
There were pinapples, bananos....

They were also growing fruits that I had never seen before; they were all laying on a table to EXAMINE.....Ernesto thought he should give one a try; this is his face after afterwards.....crazy Nester!Turrialba is known for its strong coffee. The hills were symetrically planted with coffee plants, it looked really pretty. I really never saw one up close. See below how the beans are covering the branches? There are several coffee plantations here, and Kate said the tours are really good. Let me add that to my long-ass list of things to do/places to see while in Costa Rica. We stopped for some bocas, beers and we had to try the coffee too. Here the waitress prepares our coffee by running the water through this cheesecloth several times. Que Rico!
It was called Parrillada las Delicias.......notice the doggies waiting on the step.......that might be my fault. I kept feeding them and the waitress pointed her finger at me (in a nice way). They were so hungry though, they even liked bad coconut flan and beet salad. pobre sitos!
As we were leaving Turrialba I snapped this shot of a graveyard on the mountain. I thought it looked really cool.

I have a good eye (wink wink)......professional photographer material, right?


  1. Amazing scenery! Sounds and looks like things are going well. Be glad you've excaped the chaos back in Atlanta. Lord help us!

    Take care, and be good...


  2. i finally got a blog! i just have no idea how to use it... haha!


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