Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I am having some trouble with the computer tonight and downloading the photos so this may be a little dis-jointed......I knew this was going to be a long day and a challenge as I had decided to go to the Arial Tram on my own and not with a tour. It is a 55 minute drive out of San Jose, so with my trusty map, sandwiches and a drink I took the bus to down town San Jose about 8.30am. Again the city centre was a weave of moving people and traffic everywhere. I had to find my way to another bus depot about 10 minutes away and after stopping to ask the way a couple of times found the station. A few things make this kind of trek difficult, first of all I don't know where I am going, there are very few street names and I have found out if I ask some where something is they will always tell you even if they have no idea where it is. Anyway found the next depot and bought my ticket, a return ticket for the town of Limon, the tram way is on the way. This bus ride was a little uncomfortable as the bus was packed and the seats very close together. The drive was very picturesque and reminded me a little bit of the drive from Port Alberni to Long Beach (This is a drive on Vancouver Island). Very winding roads and hundreds of thousands of green trees and foliage. We passed through Braulio Carrillo National Park and then I saw the sign for the tram way, got up and the bus just stopped at the side of the road. I went to the entrance and there were about 8 big tours buses in the parking lot with three or four hundred tourists swarming around. Found out they were cruise ship passengers here on tour. I went to pay my entrance fee and the problem started. The lady told me I could not go into the park yet as they had to put all these other people through, she told me it would be a wait of up to 4 hours. That didn't sit well but what could I do, so I sat and watched all these people milling around and then being taken by small bus into the park. As I had already paid my entrance fee I figured I was just as important as any of them, so I just inched my way into one of the groups got on the bus and went to the area where you had to wait for the tram, so far so good. Each tram takes 6 people and the guide, waited about 30 minutes for a tram to free up. Did I mention it was pouring rain, well we were in the middle of the rain forest. Don't I look a little cute in my poncho???? The tram ride was interesting, to be above the forest and looking down was a new perspective on the trees and ferns. The ride was about 80 minutes with lots of stops. I really don't know what to say about this, it was neat and enjoyable but it wasn't for me at least one of those, "oh my gosh" moments. After a while everything started to look the same and you go up and turn around and come back the same way. I found the whole tour here a little too touristy of course being herded with hundreds of others didn't help and to be honest I thought is was expensive for what it was 55 dollars!!!! After the tram we were supposed to be taken on a nature hike but we just went a couple of hundred yards into the forest, not interesting any more. It had now stopped raining and I had to make my way back to San Jose. I was directed to stand on the side of the highway and flag a bus down when it passed by. The big trucks give you some indication of the nature of the road and the traffic. After maybe 30 minutes a bus came by and it stopped for me and back to the big city. Arrived home about 6pm pretty proud that I had done this on my own, it certainly was a different day and an enjoyable one but I don't think I would put this visit down has one of the high lights. One good thing is that I had a choice when I move to the coast on Sunday to take a bus like I did today for 4000 colonies complete with my back packs and lap top and tight cramped conditions for the almost 4 hour drive or for 15000 colonies take a small mini bus, with lots of room and door to door service, so opted for that and that's a relief. Tomorrow I have booked another tour with the same company as the coffee tour last week, this is a small mini bus tour to another volcano and a small craft town, an early start so looking forward to that, sorry for the long post have a great evening everyone...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I am writing this without seeing if the images I down loaded appeared. If they did I want to wish you all a safe and happy Halloween. If they didn't, I still wish you the same.....Halloween is not celebrated here but having said that a few of the stores do have decorations and masks, up will have to wait and see what happens...take care...

Well this afternoon's little adventure did not go according to plan I intended to visit a city about 30 minutes away called Alajuela, I left and got on the bus to the terminal in down town San Jose and managed to find my way to the stop to get on the bus to Alajuela and off I go. I wanted to try and capture some photographs of the down town and it's happenings without setting up the shots, so all the photos today were taken out of the side window of the bus. They are what they are, the bus went through some very impoverished and dirty streets with street people sleeping on the side walk or in the little park with the statue. I just wanted to capture their looks and I think I did that with the old man, the couple talking and the man selling coconuts. As run down as this area was just a few yards away from the poverty and dirt is this huge car show room. At this point the afternoon went down hill. I neglected to bring the manuel for my camera with me from Nanaimo and the camera is relatively new to me and I cannot figure out when the battery is getting low it just instantly shuts down, which is what happened, so unfortunately the rest of the afternoon would be a camera free zone. Then when I wanted to get off the bus it starting to rain like crazy, now apart from those special ladies ( you gotta love 'em)who think I have an umbrella attached to the right hand, I did not bring the umbrella because no rain for 5 days now, so I decided to stay on the bus and see where I end up. Well I ended up at the airport, still raining so got off the bus figured out which bus to take me back to San Jose and then made my way back to the terminal to get the bus home fortunately by this time it had` stopped raining. It was not a wasted afternoon I enjoyed the buses seeing all the different people getting on and off, trying image their life and what was going on for them. In the downtown there was much poverty and trash strewn streets. Lots of hustle and bustle. I must say at no time did I feel unsafe or threatened, quite the opposite, but down town of most major cities are not my favourite places....different day, different photos, different perspective, makes you stop and think about your own life, the choices made and not made...have a great evening, tomorrow another adventure is planned to the rain forest...
Herardo is going to miss my delicious sandwich lunch next week....farewell pictures of Herardo and Profesor Miguel.... as a little aside I told you that I thought I was in Santa Ana on Saturday with the pictures of the church that was beautiful and then found out it was not that town. This morning I showed the photos to the Profesor and asked if he knew the place. He got this huge smile on his face and told me the name of the town was called Piedades but not only that, the church, with the beautiful stone work, years ago his father helped bring those stones from the river by Cuidad Colon to Piedades by oxen. He was so proud of this and he wants me to send those photos to his daughter so she can copy them for him, what a nice story...Off exploring another city this afternoon, bus here I come...

Monday, October 29, 2007

No wonder I couldn't find the town I was spelling it wrong it is Santa Ana and after two buses I arrived at the centre of town. The bus system is really well maintained and there are lots of buses and from the house right to the centre of down town San Jose is only 270 colonies. As per usual in these small towns the soccer field is located`right next to the church. The doors to the church were open and inside was a lady who was sweeping the floors, she was very pleasant and spoke the odd word of English to go along with my Spanglish. She said it was OK for me take photos and she also told me the church was over 100 years old. I thanked her took some photos and left and crossed the street and was starting to walk back down towards the centre of town when I heard this voice shouting and pretty soon the lady from the church had crossed the street coming towards me and it was obvious she was making her way straight to me. I wondered if I had committed some act of impropriety but no she simply wanted to give the local small newspaper which had a picture of the church in it, such kind people.
I tried to capture some of the streets and traffic and busyness of this town then made my way to the bus stop for the return leg of the journey. I had to catch a smaller bus to the highway where I would catch the regular bus home. On this first small bus I presumed the fare was the same 270 colonies which I gave to the driver, he just smiled at me and asked me where I was going, I tried to tell him and he handed me back 170 colonies. As this was a first time for me I was sort of losing my bearings but the bus came to a stop and the driver pointed to where I was to go for the next bus and I got off.

Two small kindnesses bestowed upon me from complete strangers I wonder sometimes if this would happen in my own town by local people encountering someone from a different country not speaking the language, I do hope so...

This is a long story and it is also one of those "you had to be there" stories so please read and hope you have as much fun with it as I did......

My Mum, bless her, years ago instilled in me the art of making a bed , she told me when you get up you fold back the sheets over the bottom of the bed so it "airs" the sheets, then in the afternoon you pull them back and make the bed, in case you have visitors!! She never actually said that I just put that in to spice up the story!!!!!

So last night whilst watching the Rockies self destruct in the World Series I did laundry and went to bed last night with fresh clean sheets. This morning I "listened" to my Mum and pulled back the sheets and left the bedroom door open and went for a run. I had decided to give Lucy a shower when I got back so I set everything up by the shower because I knew it would be more than her getting wet. After the run put Lucy on her leash and got her over to the shower and we had a merry old time getting her washed, actually she was really good and did sit whilst I shampooed her and washed her and got her dried the best I could with a towel. Then let her back into the house, as I was just as wet as Lucy I jumped straight into my shower and whilst getting dry I hear this noise in my bedroom and go in to find Lucy on my bed, on my clean sheets, spinning around lying down rubbing her back getting was so funny but she moved` away to fast for me to get a picture but it did remind me of one of those Visa commercials where they show the value of a few things and the end result priceless, this was like now back to the laundry....

My post on Saturday about the visit to the small town of Santa Anna and the beautiful church was in fact incorrect, that was not Santa Anna, in fact don't know where it is BUT I now have directions to the real Santa Anna and that is where I am on my way to now....we will see what happens, have a great afternoon...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I failed dismally to try to get my photos to appear in some kind of order, I went to a lot of trouble to group them together and then down load them together but as you can tell it did not work. I will just tell you about the day with references to the photos and I think you are all bright enough to figure out which text goes with which....

The day started`out with Lucy not being able to tell time and the face lick was 4am...anyway back to bed and up by 6am and went for my run, had breakfast and I was raring to go......My kind friend next door had given up her day off and in her vehicle we drove towards the Irazu Volcano. We went through the outskirts of San Jose and pretty soon we were in the country and climbing. When we left it was sunny and very warm but I was expecting severe weather changes the higher we drove.
The photos taken in the mist are on the way up and then the cows chewing their cud on a Sunday morning pick nick by the side of the road. The place we stopped was this little road side store this was a mini version of Coombes Market (This is a huge market on the island where I live very popular with locals and tourists and they have goats that graze on the roof). Behind this store was the lady's house and I thought it was a neat picture of her garden with the roosters on the table and her washing on the line.
In no time at all we arrived at the gate to the National Park of the volcano, we parked in the parking lot, maybe another 20 vehicles and one tour bus there, but there was no sense of over crowding. We were now at high elevation but the weather as you can see was bright and sunny. I hope you find the below described article about the volcano interesting. The first crater we came across was filled with the dark lunar type sand but in the centre vegetation was growing even in this barren and desolate place. Another short walk led us up to the view point of the crater with the silky green water in. What an incredible view it was, the surrounding sides were mixed up with different volcanic rock and you can see on the left hand side some of the rocks had slid down into the water. My friend told me that we could not have scripted better weather many times she had visited` here without being able to see the crater!!!!! Really the camera does not capture the beauty and the splendor of this area and I was surprised to see so much vegetation around the outer sides of the other volcano. We walked over this area and it was like walking on another continent and yet there was such lush vegetation growing right out of the rock and side. I particularly like the close up photo of the bud (if you double click on it to enlarge it you can see the rain drops). We then drove up even higher to an observation area where the views looking down into the crater were awesome.
It was as if higher powers had fine tuned this visit because as I was taking pictures down into the crater you could actually see, feel and almost hear the clouds closing in and with in seconds the crater disappeared, a magical and mystical feeling.
On the way down the side of the road up to the observation tower were these family of pozote's, they are like a small furry mammal cross between a raccoon, badger, neat, pappa pozote was watching his flock from the perch in the bush!!!!!!
Of course it wouldn't be a perfect day if soccer was not involved!!!!!Coming back down the mountain road, still in the clouds, was this little pitch with a game in progress. I begged my friend to stop and took these pictures even with a referee and I can attest to the fact despite the protests he did get the call right!!!
Home by 4.30pm...what a day this is my first close up of a volcano and it is a day that will stay in my memory forever....
Sorry this was so long but hope you can get some sense and share what an incredible experience this was......Now are those Rockies going to win a baseball game tonight????

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Irazú Volcano
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Irazú Volcano

Irazú Crater
Elevation 3,432 m (11,259 ft)
Location Costa Rica
Range Cordillera Central
Coordinates 9°58′48″N, 83°50′60″W
Type Stratovolcano
Last eruption 1963
The Irazú Volcano (Spanish: Volcán Irazú) is an active volcano in Costa Rica, situated in the Cordillera Central close to the city of Cartago. Its name is believed to be a corruption of Iztarú, which was the name of an indigenous village on the flanks of the volcano. In Costa Rica it is known by the name of "Colossus" due to the catastrophes that it has provoked in the past. Irazú has erupted frequently in historical times—at least 23 times since its first well-recorded eruption in 1723. Its most famous recent eruption began in 1963 and continued until 1965. It began on the day US President John F. Kennedy began a state visit to Costa Rica and showered the capital San José and much of the central highlands of Costa Rica with ash.

Since the 1963–65 eruption, the volcano has been dormant, although frequent earthquake swarms show that magma is still moving about beneath the volcano. In 1994, a small phreatic eruption occurred, caused by heavy rains destabilising part of the volcano's flank, resulting in rapid decompression of a shallow hydrothermal system.

The volcano's summit has several craters, one of which contains Diego de la Haya, a green crater lake of variable depth. It is the highest active volcano in Costa Rica. It is easily visited from San José, with a road leading right up to the summit craters and a daily bus service to the top. It is thus a popular tourist spot. The volcano summit also spots a few television transmitters for television stations in San José.

From the top it is claimed to be possible to see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on a clear day; however, such clear days are very rare indeed, and it is typical for the volcano's summit to be covered in cloud for much of the time.

Thursday 5 th January 2023…it was a great run!!!

 This was my first ever blog post back in November of 2006!!! With just a couple of days off I have written a blog every day since and I hav...