Sunday, March 11, 2012

Poas Volcano & Coffee Plantation near San Jose

Our Costa Rico tour began this morning by leaving the hotel at .  We left early so we could make the 1 ½ hr drive to Volcano Poas before the cloud cover set in.  The top of the Volcano is in what is referred to as the ‘cloud forest’, in other words, it is clear only 30% of the time and that is usually early in the morning.  We were very fortunate, as it was clear almost the whole hour we were there, but as we were leaving the clouds were beginning to cover the area. 

Volcanic Crater after eruption
 The volcano is active, in other words there is sulfur gas continually coming off of the lake in the crater at the top of the volcano.  At times it will also send up a small geyser/plume of ash and gas.  Would you believe it happened while we were there!  The water in the lake was churning the whole time, and changed colors, just before the eruption it was a blue and after wards it was gray because of the ash.  Our guide has been visiting the Volcano for 19 years and has never seen a geyser occur prior to today.  The crater is pproximately a mile across, and at the altitude of 8871 ft. The lake is 180 ft deep. We hiked to a second dormant volcano to view the lagoon in its crater. We definitely knew we were at that altitude, as you frequently need to stop and catch your breathe.  

Coffee Plantation

Coffee Plants

Coffee Beans

As we were driving up the mountain to the top to the Volcano on narrow winding roads (in a bus) we were driving past one coffee plantation after another.  The hillsides were simply full of coffee plants.  Also we saw where they are growing ferns – the fern leaves that we use in most flower arrangements in the US.  They are grown under black nets so the leaves do not burn from the sun. 

Black Mesh over Ferns
 We have a wonderful guide who will be with us for the 10 days while in Costa Rico.  He is a Naturalist by training, but has been working for Caravan Tours for 9 years.

On our way back down the mountain we stopped at a restaurant along the way were we had a lovely view of the Central Valley of Costa Rico. This Valley is home to 60 % of all the Costa Rican population.

This afternoon we went to a Coffee Plantation/Processing facility – Britt Coffee. This is where they roast coffee beans.  They showed us the life cycle of the coffee plant, how they deal with pest control so they use limited chemicals, how the beans are processed, how coffee is tested by quality control and finally how to make a good cup of coffee.  This plantation does not grow all the beans they process.  They buy beans from local producers on the ‘futures market’.  They also buy from ‘fair trade’ groups – usually single Mothers who grow coffee beans.  At the end we were able to taste their coffees and of course buy what we wanted.      

We are back at the hotel for the night.  We will have dinner and sometime tonight we need to repack so we take a small overnight bag with us for the next two nights.  We will be going on a boat to a lodge on the Caribbean coast.  We do not know about Internet there, so if there is not a post for several days you will understand. 

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