I've made friends with another teacher at my school - we've decided to become travel buddies. It's tough to travel alone. Plus, she's fluent in Spanish, which is very handy. So today we decided to make the trip to the Poas Volcano. It's a nice day-trip, and we have a long weekend because the school is closed for the "worker's holiday" on Monday.
My guide-book said the bus leaves San Jose at 8:30, stops in Alejuela at 9:30, then takes 3 or 4 hours (it had different times on different pages) to get to the volcano. It was partly right. It left San Jose at 8:30 in the morning (ticket price - $5, if you're interested). It got to Alejuela about 9 and left there at 9:15. My friend lives there, so she was going to hop on at that station. She barely made the bus, since it left earlier than expected. "Tico Time" is usually at least 10 or 15 minutes late, so it was really odd for something to leave ahead of schedule! She was caught off-guard. The trip to the volcano was only about 2 hours, with a stop at a little market / restaurant / tourist trap along the way. Maybe I'll write to the publisher of the Lonely Planet guide to Costa Rica to have them correct their book.
The bus stopped at the entrance to the park, where we all had to get off to buy tickets for entrance ($7 for non-Ticos). Moments later we were dropped off in a parking lot. After wandering around the visitor's center for a bit, we were confronted by a young woman who recognized us as English speakers. She pleaded: "I'm completely lost. What's going on?" We explained that we were free to roam the park until 2:30, when the bus would take us back to Alejuela. We invited her to join us and she gladly accepted.
The main crater is just a short walk up a paved road. We were very lucky that it was a clear, cloud-free day. We got a fantastic view of the volcano. It was pretty neat to watch it belch sulfer into the air. It's considered an active volcano, and has had minor eruptions as recently as 1989 and 1995. A trail led us up to another crater, which has become a beautiful lake. Here we stood around and enjoyed some people-watching for awhile.
Afterwards, we continued up the trail, which led us through a forest with lovely vegetation. The ferns grow to massive sizes! And eventually we were back at the visitor's center and cafe. We stopped, ate snacks, enjoyed some coffee, and got to know each other a little better. Our new friend turned out to be from Canada. She had decided to visit Costa Rica for a few weeks on a whim. She was just hanging out in Alejuela for a couple of days before making her way to the Pacific coast for some quality beach time.
We got back on the bus, which again left early. Very, very odd. It made another stop at the same market (the bus line must get a kickback of some sort). And we were back in Alejuela by 3:30 PM. My fellow teacher gave us the penny tour of the city, showed us where she's staying, and then took us to the mall to hang out and get some grub. Our Canadian friend mentioned that she was going to spend an extra day in town and asked if we wanted to go see some other sights, like the Zoo, and perhaps tour one of the nearby coffee plantations. Sure, why not? So we're meeting up tomorrow morning to play "tourist" again.
It's nice to do some traveling and sight-seeing. I mean, that's why I'm here, right? It sure beats sitting around the house.
Labels: costa rica