On Tuesday, we set out with our company to visit Volcán Poás and re-visit La Paz Waterfall Gardens. If there is one thing we have learned about taking in the sites in Costa Rica it’s this: SET OUT EARLY! Our friends couldn’t believe I suggested getting up at 5:30 for a day of sight-seeing but I was firm. Ok, bossy. I was bossy. God, I love being in charge.
The thing about Poás is that it is almost always covered in mist. You can’t see a thing. And unlike Arenal – which juts up out of the ground with nothing around it, alone and mystical in its starkness – Poás is surrounded by other mountains. You don’t get the "driving up" stunner that Arenal provides.
As you get close to Poás on a clear day, I’ll bet the sight is pretty breathtaking. We don’t know – we were driving into clouds even at 8am. What you look forward to at Poás is peering into its crater, seeing the lagoon at the heart, the steam rising out, hearing the rumble. You don’t get to do that at Arenal – you are likely to get a burp and a lava rock in the face.
You park and walk thru the elaborate visitor’s center (coffee shop, gift shop, huge bathrooms) and hike a short way up a pretty landscaped path – clearly they are not expecting a lava flow – to the lookout. You can’t see a thing. If you threw your hat off the lookout, it would disappear about 5 feet in front of you into cloud. But friends had warned us to wait, even up to an hour. Clouds are always on the move and catching a glimpse of the crater is worth the wait. So we waited.
After about 15 minutes, the clouds started thinning, then dispersing… and the crater begins to reveal itself. It is a remarkable thing. Key West doesn’t have volcanoes or waterfalls. We were completely awed. We all have about 1000 pictures of the crater with varying degrees of mist. But you can’t stop snapping… it is awesome.
So awesome, in fact, we decided to take a peek at the old lagoon which is now a gorgeous forested lake a little further up the trail. UP the trail. Fifteen minutes UP the trail. We were quite breathless by the time we got there. Beautiful, certainly. But it looks like a lake. An undeveloped untouched lake which, come to think of it, is the most amazing thing about it. Just outside of Granada, Nicaragua, developers built a resort hotel on the edge of their inactive lagoon. Hmmmm, there’s money to be made here, people!
After a million pictures, the signs point the way back to the visitor’s center and the car and we take off. Surprisingly it goes UP for quite a ways more. Then straight DOWN – I mean straight down. The path is paved which is helpful and you are wandering thru jungle so it’s beautiful, but by the end, we are whipped. Pansies, I know. But we are headed for La Paz and I already know what a walk that is going to be…. I decide not to share this inside info with my compadres. Hey, you only live once, right?
So we hop back in the car and drive to La Paz. It’s 11am by now. I’m so excited to show them the waterfalls. They are something: all that water rushing over all those mountains for all those years. And they don’t dry up! I wondered aloud "Where does all that water come from?" There aren’t any snow-covered mountains in Costa Rica… Hal very helpfully pointed out that God sends it. That answer will do nicely.
By the time we wandered thru the butterfly house, the hummingbird garden, the snake house, the frog hut, the orchid garden, then walk all the way down past the five waterfalls and then all the way back up… it’s 3pm and my legs are shaking. I’ve done enough exercise for quite a few days. This counts for a week, right?
Tired as we were, we were still completely gleeful and wet. Powerful rushing water does that to a body. After the walk, in the gift shop, you get to sample all the Cafe Britt chocolate covered macadamia nuts and coffee you could want. Recalled to life for the drive home! You really shouldn’t miss this… Costa Rica is not that far away.