April 7, 2008

Day Two afternoon

The tour director was fabulous. Carlos Mora had a B.Sc. in Ornithology, a Master's degree in Tourism and a Ph.D. in Phonetics (Linguistics). Not only could he identify every bird we pointed out, but he was incredibly knowledgeable in geography, geology, culture, and the flora and fauna of Costa Rica. The next stop was Poas volcanoe. The plants around the volcano are unique, due to the high concentration of acid rain created by the volcano itself.

I did manage to get some good pictures of the beautiful flowers in the area.
This is a common little bush that grew on the path to the volcano. According to Carlos, the natives used the flowers of this plant to decorate their bodies, much like henna. When heated, the flowers turned blue.
Carlos heated the edges of this flower with a cigarette. The heat turned the petals a beautiful blue-green, but didn't seem to harm the flower at all.
Some areas along the climb were almost completely void of vegetation, because of the acid rain coming from the volcano. You can see the mist billowing over the trees at the rear of this photo.

This is all we saw of Poas volcano. We should be looking out over a vast cater, with a lake at the bottom, but the mist was so thick, it was like a solid white wall. There were a lot of people who had made the trip to see the volcano, and they hovered around, waiting for the mist to clear, but we had an agenda, and couldn't wait. While there, we noticed a man discretely taking pictures of some of the girls on our tour, and he followed us back to the tour bus. We were quite creeped out by his suspicious behaviour.

After leaving Poas, we headed off through La Paz, which ws supposed to be a shortcut on the way to the Arenal region, our final destination for the night. However, when we got to this bridge, we ran into a few problems. The bridge was crumbing, and was only wide enough for one car at a time. There was a huge line up of cars on both sides of the bridge waiting to cross.

We were asked to get out of the bus, and our tour director directed traffic while we explored the waterfall. We had to walk across the bridge while there were no other vehicles on it, because the tour director was worried that the bridge would collapse if the bus went across with us in it. This is a picture from behind the falls.

This traffic jam, in the middle of the jungle, went for several kilometers. This narrow road was considered a major highway. Our bus driver was incredibly skillful, and passed these vehicles with only inches to spare.

We stopped at Baldi Spa (a big american-style spa with multiple hot and swimming pools). All the money I brought with me was stolen at the spa (about $85 US). The group spent a couple of hours swimming, and then we headed off to our hotel at the base of Arenal Volcano for supper and bed. We were all exhausted, and ready for sleep.

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