Avoiding excessive public displays of affection
We set off around 9am this morning and traverse the busy San Jose traffic in the direction of the Orosi Valley. Our destination is Lankester Botanical Gardens which is near the town of Cartago, Costa Rica’s capital city from 1574 to 1824. The city is situated at the base of the Irazu Volcano, which is considered active. During the last serious eruption in 1963, the area was affected by volcanic ash for two years. We are hoping to miss that today. Cartago’s central square Plaza Mayor includes the ruins of the Santiago Apostle Parish Church. In fact these are not ruins but rather an unfinished building. The work was continually interrupted by earthquakes so the city eventually abandoned the project. We are hoping to avoid an earthquake today too. A few blocks along from the main square we drive pass the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles (Our Lady of the Angels), originally started in 1693 and restored many times since … due to earthquake damage.
Arriving at Lankester Gardens we suggest a comfort stop before starting a tour with our guides, Isabel and Adriana. There are not sufficient ladies toilets (no surprise there) so the gentlemen toilet is commandeered for private use. Richard waits cross legged.
As we set off on our walk around the gardens we pass a film crew. They are recording a short documentary about the gardens and we try our best to get the Furlongs Travel logo in the camera shot.
Lankester Gardens are run by the University of Costa Rica with the original aim of researching orchids and epiphytes but they now cultivate over 3000 species of plants and is home to many native birds and butterflies.
From Lankester Gardens we drive into the beautiful Orosi Valley. The land here is fertile due to the Reventazon River and we drive across the Cachi Dam which provides some hydro-electric power. Our lunch destination is a delightful country restaurant called La Casona del Cafetal. Richard found this place on his original recce trip and has always enjoyed bringing guests here. We sit on the pretty terrace and enjoy magnificent views over the lake below. A tasty buffet is included and wine and beer arrive too. Lunch is concluded with coffee made in traditional and individual filters. The construction is a small wooden frame with a cloth filter. Ground coffee sits in the cloth pocket and hot water is poured on top. The coffee mug below fills with lovely coffee!
After lunch we enjoy a visit to the Ruins of Ujarras, Costa Rica’s oldest church, dating from 1693. The ruins are surrounded by attractive gardens and one of the tall trees is full of parakeets. There is a sign at the entrance to the park with various rules and regulations. “Avoid excessive public displays of affection” is the rule that catches our eye! Richard and Dawn stand at the entrance to ensure no one is holding hands.