Michael Fish strikes again
Breakfast is available from 6am and quite a few guests are early. The body clock wakes us this morning. Today we are visiting Volcan Poas and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Sunhats, sunblock, cameras, radios. All present and correct. What we need now are bottles of drinking water. We like to keep our guests hydrated. However the hotel does not have sufficient stock so we formulate a plan. The first excursion on this deluxe 18-day tour of Costa Rica and Panama will be an escorted tour of the nearby WALMART. To be honest we allow guests to stay on our coaches while Richard and Dawn, and our guides, Isabel and Adriana grab large supermarket trolleys and head for the water aisle. We load up small and large bottles – over 200 litres – and head to the check-out counters. This is a huge Walmart and there are 32 check-out stations. Guess what, only one is open and there is a queue. To be fair, the service is fairly quick and we are loading the water into our coaches within a few minutes.
Next stop is Poas Volcano, promise! It is a very scenic drive from the central plateau up to the mountain range which defines the continental divide. Volcan Poas is situated in a National Park consisting of dense cloud forest. On arrival at the visitor trail we set up our personal radios, and our guides Isabel and Adriana escort a walk to the edge of the Volcano. As we approach we can smell the sulphur in the air. The Poas crater is approximately 1.5km wide and 300 metre deep. It is often covered in cloud but today we are lucky. A clear view. We enjoy some free time and some guests manage a winding trail which offers a picturesque view of the lagoon. From Poas we drive to an area called La Paz. The Waterfall Gardens here are set in lush tropical rainforest and at the bottom of the valley there is a fast flowing river and some spectacular waterfalls. That trail is quite an effort, but there is plenty to see within easy walking distance. Our first port of call is the lunch restaurant. The restaurant team is busy and not quite ready for us so we gather at the entrance for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, out-of-sight, Richard and Dawn help clear and clean tables! After lunch Adriana and Isabel take us through the Aviary and Butterfly Observatory and we watch hummingbirds busy at the feeders. There are also monkeys, frogs, snakes and big cats to see. Many of the animals here are rescued orphans and they appear to be well looked after. Now, what about the weather? Last evening at dinner, Richard reminded everyone what to bring today and also suggested the weather might be warm and dry. Sadly he did a Michael Fish. Although certainly not cold, there does appear to be some drizzle now and then. More now than then, actually. Richard reminds everyone we are in a cloud forest and these things happen. Surprisingly, he appears to get away with it.
Back at the hotel we enjoy a wonderful buffet dinner set in the central courtyard of the Marriott Costa Rica Hotel. It is a wonderful setting and the food is great too.