Monday, January 31, 2011

Live from Costa Rica

Greetings from the Windstar Cruise Line Wind Star, sailing roundtrip from Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica! Our very first cruise on this line--and our 41st anniversary gift to ourselves.

We began our vacation, however with a couple of days in San Jose, both to counter any possible flight delays (always a good policy), but also to take in a bit more of this ecologically diverse country. We‘d love to have seen the Aerenal Volcano, one of the most acive in the world, but decided that a 13-hour day trip would neither do it justice, nor “sit“ well with us.

So, we opted for an excursion to Poas Volcano, still acitive with geyser-type eruptions, but a shorter trip from San Jose. We were not disappointed. Our guide, Gina, was extremely knowledgeable about her country and fluent in English. Upon our arrival to Poas Volcano National Park, we took a short walk up to the viewing stands above the rim of the volcano--a great vantage point. We also had the option to hike up a trail to a nearby jade-blue crater lake formed by volcanic eruptions years ago. It‘s a beautiful lake, and I hope you‘ll check out the photo I posted on Facebook. (We will load all of our photos when we return.) The hike itself was not difficult, but we quickly felt the effects of the altitude. We weren‘t in San Antonio any more.

Also included in the tour was a visit to the Doka Estate coffee farm. Gina explained the journey of the coffee bean from seedling to coffee cup. Costa Ricans are proud of their coffee, and we agree that it‘s delicious. A typical Costa Rican lunch with rice and beans was served in an open-air restaurant at the estate.

Our van made a couple other stops, too, one to the craft center in the town of Sarchi selling every imaginable craft and indigenous product, and another to a factory where decorative ox carts and other crafts are made and painted by local artisans. The interesting thing about the factory was that tools were powered totally by water--a tradition kept alive for decades.

Our hotel was actually located in Herredura, outisde San Jose, and this Ramada Inn Resort is also the hotel used by Windstar, which hosts a hospitality desk. We had purchased Windstar transfers from the hotel to the ship in Puerto Caldera and enjoyed the historical and ecological information offered by our host as we made our way the following afternoon to the port.

Next up: more about our cruise. Pura vida!

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