Perfect timing to write a little about our fog-filled Costa Rica days.. it's dark and rainy outside and a bit chilly inside (old house). Yay for ginger and lemon tea, a big pile of 'speculaas' and warm purring kitties! I wish I had those things in CR when we arrived in the Cartago area!
The drive from Uvita to Cartago wasn't too long (pfew), but really epic! We literally drove into the rain. Like you see in cartoons. A wall of rain. Crazy stuff. Just a few minutes before, we stopped in the mountains to get some snacks at a little shop. Surprised we watched cars from the opposite direction drive by, soaking wet. Really odd, with sunny skies above us.
The drive through National Park Los Quetzales was amazing! I almost cried because the forest was so unbelievable beautiful! The highest peak of Costa Rica is in this park. No wonder clouds floated on the road! Again, I gasped at all trees covered in lichen and gorgeous plants beside the road. Yellow and red flowers created crazy pops of color in that white & green world. Of course, there was no place to stop and take a picture. You just have to trust me. It. Was. Gorgeous.
Just outside the National Park there was a place to stop (figures), you can see the clouds floating by. It was a crazy drive again, because people tend to leave their lights off and the sight is horrible. Scary as hell!
We had 2 nights in Orosi Valley, it makes a perfect stop on your way from the Pacific Coast to the Caribbean Coast. The scenery is unlike anything we have seen in the rest of Costa Rica. The height makes such a difference in terms of plants and climate! All the lichen and plant covered trees look like they stepped out of a Tim Burton movie (hello Big Fish!).
The day we arrived we just drove around a bit, to explore. We took wrong turn after wrong turn, as we always do, but did find the Cachi dam. You would think a dam isn't that interesting. But this one is. And let me tell you, the force is strong with this one! ;)
I felt like a teeny tiny ant standing over this enormous beam of water. Like a super mega turbo power jet. I was so scared of falling in, jikes! It's a great place to visit, but be really careful: the bridge is also a road, so please look twice before you cross from one side to the other!!
Day two at Cartago.. Time to do what we came here to do! See a volcano!
We drove by Arenal and did some ooh's and aah's in the car, but that place is flooded by tourists. Long story short: we skipped it. I found out about Volcano Irazu through the blog of a Costa Rican photographer. Irazu felt more like a natural place, not a lot of commercial 'blah' around.
The host of the B&B warned us: it's a cloudy day, you will probably not see the crater! But we didn't come here to sit around and do nothing so we went up anyway. On our way to Irazu we noticed the roads were really quiet. Cartago is a very rural area and it was a Tuesday or something so it was quite peaceful. It was a looooooong drive up and up and up. At the park (everything is a National Park) entrance the ticket guy wouldn't let us in: "you can't see the volcano"... But a little persistence (aka 2 stubborn people in a car) goes a long way, we got in for 50% of the price.
And then we found out why there was no-one around, why we got in for 50% and why cloudy days make horrible Irazu days. This is what we saw on top of the volcano: Gorgeous view, right? ;) We didn't get to see the volcano, big so what! It was perfect. Black sand, a few meters of sight, black rocks.. like we landed on the moon. For someone that likes moody autumn days this was photo-heaven. Happy days!
Happy faces in the rain. I'll admit.. I would have been even more happy without that damn cold! When you pack your bags for Costa Rica, you just don't think about packing chunky knits, sweaters and gloves. I wish I did. Our days in Cartago were cold, so cold. And wet. Just so you know CR isn't just palmtrees and bikini's!
But yay for body temperature to keep each other warm and yay for mental fast forwards to Caribbean beaches!
Perfect place. We will see a volcano some other time!
And then. This. A entire restaurant on the road to Irazu filled to the brim with little pieces of paper, business cards and old banknotes. It was spooky and poetic at the same time. The first mainly because we were the only people in the restaurant. The owner has collected the business cards and notes for more than 40 years. It is like a museum, there are tiny poems written on napkins, coasters with funny drawings and torn pieces of paper with love letters. Written in all kinds of languages by people from all over the world that stopped by, just like we did. Cool and enchanting and a bit crazy!
If you are a frequent reader, you'll know that my husband and I are suckers for botanical gardens. It turns out, that doesn't stop in a tropical country! We visited Lankester Botanical Garden and were blown away by the size. It's everything you expect, lots of palms, orchids and exotic plants. The only difference with (cold) Northern-European countries is the lack of roofing. Orchids aside, everything is outside.
The orchid collection is really pretty and the fern and cactus gardens were stunning! Of course, we saw most plants in the wild the week before but we liked walking around here. There is just something about botanical gardens.. so calming. But maybe that's because we're nature nerds ;)
Seriously, yay for fog in pictures! (also, check that HUGE monstera climbing up the tree in front)
By the time we walked all the paths, half our afternoon was gone. We did drive around to find natural hot springs in the area after Lankester, but we found out we were a long hike away from warm, bubbling water. Too late, too much. Next time!
Just outside our B&B we made an emergency stop. This tiny kitten was walking by the roadside alone so we I had to check if it was okay. The little fur-ball started some heavy bonding immediately and jumped on my lap. Kitten cuddles!!!! "Stefan, he thinks I'm his mommy! It's sooooo cute!!! Can I take him?!?!? Please, please, please? Look, he loves me!!" Despite my begging and all the kittens efforts to win him over (almost worked), Stefan was being realistic. I hate it when he does that! Apparently taken a wild kitten into a B&B is nót the best plan in the world. Mweh. The poor baby was starving, so we gave him some bread (it was all we had on us) and he ate it like a crazy wild tiger.
Stefan was not high on kitten love like me, just tired and cold. He got back in the car and threatened to drive away without me if I didn't hurry up. Cruel man. So after a short goodbye of 20 minutes, I left the tiny orphan alone. And yes, I talked about the kitten for the rest of the night. And the day after.
We stayed at a B&B in the Orosi Valley were we got a free upgrade to a family room because of a double booking. Whoop! It wasn't our favorite B&B, but it is great for meeting other travellers over dinner or breakfast. The host/cook is really friendly and the view (if not cloudy) beautiful! We could see a waterfall from our room and the entire valley from the deck. We were rewarded for helping the kitten on our last morning here. A gorgeous sunny day!! Go karma go!
A perfect morning to start driving to the Caribbean Coast :) The final part of our Costa Rica honeymoon will be online soon!
PS: we 'visited' Irazu on google earth when we got home..
Read all my Costa Rica blogposts:
1. Costa Rica honeymoon: driving in a green world 2. Costa Rica honeymoon: rainforest wildlife3. Costa Rica honeymoon: pacific paradise 4. Costa Rica honeymoon: foggy volcanos (that's this one!) 5. Costa Rica honeymoon: reggae bar cocktails