We spent Maundy Thursday of Semana Santa at one of Costa Rica’s 25 National Parks, Poas Volcano National Park. We were treated to the trip by our Tico padres, which was very generous, because it is about 5x as expensive for non-residents to enter the park and since we are only lowly Peace Corps Trainees we don’t have P.C. I.D.s that would qualify us as residents. The trip was a bit of a whirlwind, even by last summer’s standards, just when we were about to head into the gift shop after a quick spin through the visitor’s center and art gallery our padre intercepted us, handed us a postcard and we were on our way to the crater.
The sights and smells brought us right back to Yellowstone. Poas is an active volcano that spews sulfuric clouds on a regular basis and is thought to be due for a full-blown eruption in the very near future. When we first got to the edge of the crater (there’s a fence) we couldn’t see anything because we were engulfed by a cloud, but the wind quickly shifted and we were able to see the bright blue pool in the center of the crater and the bright orange markings from iron residues. After some photos we headed to Laguna Botos, a lagoon named for an indigenous tribe that used to live near the lagoon.
On the way back from the lagoon, on a paved trail, we encountered a group of people in awe of an animal. I’m sure you’re thinking what we thinking, a lemur, perhaps a sloth, a monkey, at the very least some beautiful bird.
No, it was a squirrel, just a squirrel. A squirrel that was very used to humans. Our host madre quickly dug in her purse for treat for said squirrel. The first thing she found was spearmint gum. Initially the squirrel took the piece of gum out of her hand, but he quickly realized he didn’t like gum. While our madre looked deeper in her purse, another family with two young girls and crackers showed up. The squirrel ended up enjoying some of the crackers, however he did not like the packet of sugar that our madre dumped on the trail. As wild as Costa Rica may seem, a critter that is all to common back home is enough to back up a trail and entertain a bunch of Ticos.
After we were finished with the circus, we made our way to a picnic site for a delicious lunch of rice and beans, after which, we were able to steal a few moments in the gift shop.
All in all, it was nice to get back to nature and I was inspired to find (or create) “Leave No Trace” materials in Spanish for our future site. Hopefully this was just the beginning of our National Parks in Costa Rica.