Day 5 - Saturday
We were up early today and ready to go to Volcan Poas, an active volcano about an hour and a half out of San Jose. Missionary Schwarz called early to let us know that due to the cloud cover there was a possibility we might not be able to see anything once we get there. I had him talk to Ethan and they decided to go ahead with the plan and hope for the best! We left the hostel about 7:30, before breakfast and while most of us were still half asleep.
As we climbed out of the valley and toward the mountains the scenery became more wonderful. With the beginning of the rainy season everything was now lush green and many flowers were blooming. We also began to see coffee bushes and huge plantations for growing the addictive bean. 🙂 There were also acres of growing ferns for harvest and export. These areas were covered with sunscreen to enhance the right environment for growing the ferns.
As we began some of the switch-back roads up the mountain there were opportunities for awesome views of the valley below and as far as you could see towards other mountains. The sun began to burn off some of the clouds and fog and made for a beautiful morning. As we neared the national park, there was an increase in fog and a drop in the temperatures. Most of us brought sweaters and wore warmer clothes for this elevation. We paid the entrance fee at the park; it had gone up to $10 for visitors ($2 for residents), and paid for parking the two vehicles.
Access to the edge of the volcano was up a paved pathway about ¼ mile (I’m guessing). Standing behind the rail fence we looked over the edge and into a white cloud. At first absolutely nothing was visible. It was as white as a bed sheet. We were encouraged that if we waited the wind would occasionally clear much of the cloud and you would see the massive crater and the steam cloud coming from the lake of water in the crater. The last few days there had been a lot of activity in the volcano and you could smell the putrid sulfur odor several miles coming up the mountain.
Sure enough, the wind blew and the clouds and fog shifted giving us a great view of the depth of the crater. We could still see the billowing steam cloud coming from the area where the lake and the activity is. Fortunately, there was no grand eruption while we were gazing in the abyss!
While we were there on the observation deck, a lady came up to my wife and asked her if we were with a group from Florida. She told her we had some in our group from Florida. She was looking for Mellissa Brumfield so Gayla told her that Mellissa’s brother was with us. She revealed that she is a cousin of the Brumfields and she had found out on Facebook or email that they were also going to be in Costa Rica at the same time. This younger generation of Brumfields had never met but through this incidental meeting in Costa Rica! How cool is that?
The Schwarz, my wife, and I walked back down to the visitor center while the younger ones 🙂 hiked a trail that lead around to another crater of a dormant volcano that now holds a lake of water. We enjoyed a cup of coffee and a muffin with the Schwarz at a little coffee shop in the visitor center and looked at some of the gift shop / art gallery items.
When the group returned from the hike we loaded up for the thrill ride down the mountain roads! This morning we left the hostel before breakfast was served so now everyone was starving (except for the wise ones who had a muffin!) and we started looking for a restaurant. Brother Schwarz stopped at one clean looking establishment but it was not yet open. It was almost 11:00. I guess that was too early for lunch and too late for breakfast! A little further down the road there was a quaint and very neat Swiss looking restaurant with a Spanish name: Dona Julia. We decided to take a chance on it and it was an excellent choice. They seated us in a room with large picture glass windows looking out over the misty (turning to rain) green pastures surrounding the restaurant. An abundance of flowers surrounded the house. There were butterflies and hummingbirds hovering around the flowers.
The food at Dona Julia was wonderful. I had a chicken breast smothered in melted cheese, beans, rice, some salad and plantains (of course). Everyone seemed to enjoy their brunch … maybe because they were so hungry! We also stopped at a little roadside market where some bought fresh picked strawberries and other treats.
We got back to the hostel about 2:00 and the plan was to pick us up at 3:30 to head the other direction for the service tonight in Quebrada Ganado near the west coast. We left early enough to stop at a river crossing where there is an abundance of crocodiles lurking in the water along the edge of the river.
A ways further down the road and we got our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. We stopped along the coast as the sun was shining through the clouds and sunset was only about an hour away. We took some pictures with the palm trees and along the shore. This was a rocky beach with little sand. I collected a few unique rocks as a memento of our stop along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
The pastor from the church in Quebrada Ganado met us while we were stopped at the ocean and delivered some mangos. They were the biggest I had ever seen and the best tasting bar none! We got more from another brother in the church and we will have all the mangos we can eat until we leave. Too bad we can’t take any home due to the agricultural restrictions in customs. A couple of the girls picked up some green coconuts that were lying on the rocks. I think they hoped they might be edible or that they might take them home but we told them about the customs restriction as well.
Soon we loaded up and just before we arrived at the church we stopped at a local market for some cold drinks. Still no Dr. Pepper so I got a bottle of tea and a water for Sister Schwarz.
The church was located down a narrow street in a neighborhood. It was a very neat church with nice tile floors and accent spot lights on the platform. They had wonderful music and sang several songs (one of which we were going to sing tonight 🙂 ). Their young people also preformed a drama. I think they were encouraged to be able to display their talent before other talented youth.
During the service there was a royal downpour. It was actually a welcome relief as the humidity had gotten so intense we were sweltering before the rain began. It actually cooled off several degrees once the rain started. Unfortunately, the church has a tin roof and at times it was a competition to hear the speaker above the downpour. The rain continued throughout the service alternating between gentle rain and a deluge.
Carly testified tonight, Ethan played Jesus in the drama, and Kaniel preached. Kaniel won the award for shortest message of the week! There was a good response and people prayed. There is a spiritual hunger in Costa Rica. It seems rather easy to get a response to the message of Christ.
Our team was starved after service considering the last meal we ate was about 11:00 that morning. So other than a few snacks or drinks no one had eaten. The prospects for finding a restaurant in this area were next to none. We watched for anything along the way, but the only places open at all were bars with the Saturday evening crowd in full swing.
We continued the return trip across the mountain and were so thankful for the relatively new toll road that makes the trip much safer and faster. Brother Schwarz told us some horror stories of the old switch back roads across the mountain.
We continued back to San Jose and ate at Ethan’s recommendation, Pollo Campero, a Central American chicken chain restaurant. It was still open when we arrived and they cheerfully served us chicken fingers and fries and whatever else was ordered. When we paid out and got back to the hostel it was after midnight. Probably about 12:30. I was too tired to write my blog so this is written on Sunday night