Monday, November 20, 2006

Logbook: Costa Rica 1

Costarica1I spent Friday pretty much just goofing around in San Jose. For one thing, there really isn’t much to it. People may fall in love with Costa Rica, but nobody falls in love with its capitol city. For another, I was looking forward to “exploring” Costa Rica with my folks and really didn’t want to do too much on my own and spoil the fun of “discovering it together.” Saturday morning, I packed up, checked out of my hotel and got a taxi to Heredia -- a “pseudo-suburb” of San Jose -- then checked into the La Condesa Hotel where I would begin the tour with my folks. After lunch, I spent a little time on-line and had a nice walk around the lovely grounds. In the evening I looked for the tour guide so I could bum a ride to the airport with him to meet my folks, but I found out he was already at the airport to meet the group which would be arriving en masse. So, I got a taxi to the airport and waited for my folks to emerge from the arrivals gate. Sure enough, more or less on time, my folks arrived and we met up with the rest of the group for our bus ride back to the hotel. It is a little odd for me to write that all I did in a day was basically “check out, taxi, check in, hang out, taxi, wait, bus...” but that is what some days are like on The Voyage! Anyway, it was pretty late by the time we all got settled in, so my folks and I had a night cap and called it a day.

Yesterday morning the group assembled for a day-long “city tour.” I’m not quite sure what the point of it was, but I do know that it gave everyone a chance deal with jet-lag -- something I am very glad not to have to do anymore! -- and allow a day for a few folks who missed their flights to catch up with us before we went too far afield. Nevertheless, our day included a series of stops at various points of interest: The National Theater, the gold museum, a botanical garden and a famous cathedral to name a few. By the time the day was done, everyone was ready to have dinner and sleep... Including me! I was not so much exhausted by the activities of the day as I was by suddenly being with so many people. Although the group is a really good mix of friendly, experienced travelers of all ages and backgrounds, it has been a long time since I have been with 36 people!

This morning we assembled early for a trip to the nearby Doka coffee plantation -- the oldest family owned “wet milling” establishment in Costa Rica. We had a very nice, informative tour which covered the entire process from growing the “cherries” through the picking, processing, drying and roasting which renders the world famous beans. The coffee in Costa Rica is very, very good and we all go out of our way to drink it! From there, we rode to the very active Poas volcano but were disappointed to find it completely clouded over and obscured. Our guide was quick to reassure us that we have more volcanos in our near future, so from there we rode to our hotel -- an Eco-Style Resort on the Sarpiqui River -- and have called it a day.

My first impression of Costa Rica is quite simple: It is a land of greatly varied terrain and vegetation. From high altitude peaks with chilly air and mature forests to hot and humid sea level jungles, it offers a very strong sense of the power and variety of nature. I am happy to be with my folks and enjoying our time together. It has been a very long time since we have all traveled together and I am delighted to share The Voyage of Macgellan with them!

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