Conquering the volcano and adios Costa Rica
Updated: Feb 28
I had left Poas Volcano as the last adventure for us to have in Costa Rica. I wanted to be as far into the dry season as possible. Poas was notorious for clouding over at the summit and leaving visitors with little but the impression that they were flying high in the clouds. I wanted my visit to be a success so I could feed the images in my head of being a svelte and incredibly tough Lara Croft with perfect hair, who strode though the clouds of volcanic ash, saying things like, “Volanic Ash, what fucking volcanic ash?” I live vicariously in my head. It started raining on Saturday night and didn’t really stop. I was woken on Sunday morning by a message from Jerry, my incredibly cheap dodgy Costa Rican driver telling me that he did not think it was a good morning to go to Poas. I lay in bed and contemplated my options. I could in fact, stay in bed and be incredibly lazy or we could attempt to go to Poas. Fuck it. I was not going to visit Costa Rica without at least attempting to see a volcano. I messaged Jerry back and told him the trip was a goer. I was an adventurer and wished I had some Lara Croft type combat shorts to put on, though secretly I was relieved I did not. It got very cold up on Poas.
The trip took about 90 minutes and it was a lovely drive going up and up into the clouds and constant rain. I felt a little disappointed that we were making this journey to go see some mist. But we would soldier on. Once Jerry let us out of the car we donned our raincoats and long sleeve tops to start our walk into the clouds. When we got to the summit and stood at the railings I felt like shouting out in frustration, “For fuck’s sake. I can’t see anything!” It was time to don my manic Pollyanna face and the kids and I decided to walk to the Laguna, about 60 minutes away, which was a spectacular lake, formerly a crater. The walk was incredibly special, as I have never encountered cloud forest before and it put me in the world of Narnia and the Enchanted Forest. When we got to the Laguna once again the only thing we could see was clouds, but by then the kids and I were starting to see the funny side of things. There were boundless jokes of increasing sophistication along the lines of “Volcano, what volcano?”
We returned to the summit the same way on the off-chance that the clouds would clear to reveal the volcano. Miracles truly do happen, because by the time we had returned and were standing at the railing, the sun momentarily shone, the clouds lifted and the crater was revealed. My photos do not do it justice but to think it is one of the largest and most active volcanoes in Costa Rica and we got to see it, was an emotional moment for me. The kids were delighted and even they seemed to be affected by our experience with the volcano. 10 minutes after it revealed itself the mist returned and the curtain of clouds closed over the crater again. We allowed ourselves to feel momentarily smug as we returned down the path, knowing that it would probably not reveal itself again that day. It was spectacularly beautiful and I think it was a fitting way to end our time in Costa Rica.
I was going through some older photos this week for an article I am writing and I was amazed at the change in Archie and Rissie. When I compare a photo of them standing still somewhere in Times Square Subway station and how they are now, I can see a real difference. It makes me think of the challenges and adventures of the last three months. I wanted to do three months in every country and as of tomorrow our Costa Rican three months will be completed. I look back at the challenges we have had and the adventures experienced and I know they will stay in my head forever. The day that Skippy the murderous bastard of a dog decided to trap Puffy Fish to torture them (according to Archie). So there I was attempting to save the fish with my hat, restraining Skippy with my camera bag and listening to my wailing daughter telling me that the tide was coming in and that we would be stranded on the Isle of the Dead forever. The bus trips where I felt like I never knew where I was going and that one particular trip where the kids were pulled into the bus and I barely made it onto the back step. Being alerted by horrific screams from Larissa as she decided to let me know that there was a crab in the shower or a gigantic toad in the kitchen.
The golden mornings in Esterillos where we could walk for miles without without seeing a single soul. Watching the surf sweep away the trees and the beach of Esterillos in a once in a 50 year event. Meeting a hundred dogs along the way. Being terrified of a classroom with small children especially the Spanish Assassin. Trekking to find a swimming pool with a waterslide in the jungle. Turning 45 whilst my children turned 9. Learning to live on Tico Time and savouring the very sweet art of doing nothing. So many little moments that fill me with much emotion. It is not the biggest achievement in the world, but we made it. We discovered a little bit of Costa Rica and made it our own.
On Saturday afternoon we were lucky enough to be in town for the Atenas Christmas Fiesta. At one stage there was a group of children performing some Christmas number. Little Rissie’s hips started swinging and she could not help herself. Pretty soon she was in the middle of the road, trying to join in from the side. Archie ended up joining her, kicking his legs with wild abandon and minimal rhythm. I looked at these two children of mine, who had just spent an hour running around the park with a pack of Costa Rican kids and I thought that moments don’t get much sweeter.
We are ready to return to the States now and are increasingly excited. An email from Robert this morning telling us that there was some some snow flurries yesterday combined with an email from Sally this morning showing us a photo of her back deck covered in snow almost sent the kids into fits of hysteria. I am ready for the next stage, Christmas in America and honestly can not wait. But it is with a very full and grateful heart that I say farewell to Costa Rica. What a wonderful three months it has been.