The Fog that ate the Volcano

Yay!  Volcano Day!  I am soooo excited.   I, however, am the only one.   We wake up and launch into a debate about Maya’s footwear.  Kinyu and Inga (Joshua’s friends) told us to wear long pants, bring a jacket, and wear tennis shoes because it is colder on the mountain near the volcano and the terrain is rocky.   Long pants?  Check.  Jacket?  Check.  Tennis shoes?  Well, no.  Maya brought Crocs and slouchy boots made of fabric, I’ll wear my Danskos and only Ben has tennis shoes.   Should she go in Crocs or boots?  Crocs have holes in them and she’d sooner be caught dead than wear them with socks (Can’t blame here there.  They are ugly enough as it is.)   Boots?  Well they are really slouchy and she thinks they won’t keep out the rocks or protect her feet.   Solution after way too much agonizing?   A trip to the local Payless Shoe Store.  (Yes, they are everywhere.)   It is in our complex, so we walked and had new shoes in about 10 minutes.    Yay!  Now we can leave for the volcano!

Not.So.Fast.   You see, in Costa Rica, “on time” is a relative phrase.   We were supposed to meet in our lobby at 10:30am.  (“We” meaning me, Ben, Maya, Orit and Ron.  Joshua opted out of the day in order to sleep.  He must have been psychic…)   This means the actual arrival of friends (which included Kinyu, Inga and their son Ariel; Michal & Irving and, unbeknownst to us at the time, Anna, Danny and their two girls, who are friends of Kinyu and Inga) will happen sometime between 10:30 and 11:30.    Then everybody has to chat for a while until finally my children, who are just short of frothing at the mouth (and I’m not far behind them) get their wish and we get in the cars – 3 cars – to go.  Yay!  Off to the volcano!

But first, we stop at a roadside stand to buy water apples.   We get two bags, but can’t eat them until they are washed.  Never fear, a few minutes later we pull over so that Kinyu can walk in to a small restaurant and ask them to wash the fruit.   This takes about 10 minutes.   He comes back and of course we eat.   The water apples are very good.   They resemble pears in shape and texture, but the taste is almost nutty.   Ok, on the road again.   Maybe a mile or two later we stop again, because one of the cars in our party has fallen behind and we stop to wait for them to catch up.   The higher we go, the darker it gets, until it is actually raining and blowing fog.   Hmmm.

Undaunted, we press on.   Just before reaching the entrance to the National Park that is home to the Poas Volacano we pass the site of an auto accident, where the incredibly lucky people managed to land their car on the one tree that would keep them from plummeting straight down the side of the mountain to certain death.   Kinyu stopped to see if anyone was hurt, and they were not.  They said a car hit them and they went off the road so fast – it was just luck the tree was square in front of them.

Then we reach the entrance to the park.  There is a line of cars waiting to get in, and the fog is so thick you can’t see more than 10 or 15 feet in front of you.   So we quickly consult with the drivers of the other cars and decide it would be better to eat lunch first and see if the fog burns off.    We turn around and head back down the mountain, toward a restaurant someone had recommended the day before when we were at the Deportivo.  Every  kilometer or so we would pull over and ask , “Freddo Fresas?”  and the person would point down the road and say something that ended in “kilometres”.     By this time I was sure we would never find it, but we did, and it was a relief to get out of the car.

It was FREEZING!   Like a cold sauna blowing over you.  Inside, however, they had a fire in the fireplace and it smelled of woodsmoke, which was great.   All 15 or so of us  sat at an enormous table and ordered lots of food.   The rule of thumb here seems to be ‘when in doubt, eat’.   So we did.  Until about 2:30, at which point the valley had cleared up but the mountain was still overcast and raining.   Oh well, who really needs to see a live volcano anyway?

Back down the mountain we went.   And amazingly, though we never did the thing we set out to do, I had a great time.   Kinyu and Inga take everything in stride, so there was lots of laughing and joking about the whole mis-adventure.  The kids were not quite as thrilled, but they were happy we didn’t have to go walking all over the park just to see a volcano, so they didn’t complain too much.

Spanish of the day?   I learned that “Disculpe” means “excuse me”.   A useful phrase to have on hand no matter where you are.

Tomorrow we plan to stay local.  Maybe we’ll attempt to go in to old San Jose, or maybe we’ll decide the hotel pool looks like a lot of fun.    And I guess I’ll buy a postcard of the volcano.

Buying water apples

Kinyu & Inga

Where we ate lunch (note the gray skies...)

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