Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Monday, January 04, 2010


While in San Jose I took day trips to other nearby locations. My first was to the Irazú Volcano. This day also included my first exposure to another element of Costa Rican culture - nicknaming. If Costa Ricans like you, you will know it because they will give you a nickname straight away, usually something to do with a physical characteristic. Within 5 minutes I got mine from the tour guide, I was El Rubio (the blonde).

With my new name in tow, El Rubio set out to see Irazú.

I'm not sure why I'm fascinated with volcanoes, the large protruding masses of instability which at any moment could bring total destruction to those in its path, but I am. Its odd really, those characteristics in a person would cause them to be systematically removed from my life.

Anyway, Irazú, like most volcanoes in Costa Rica, are mostly shrouded in wispy clouds. However, I was able to catch a couple of shots as the clouds momentarily broke away. The whole site is eerie. What is left of the volcano is a deep water-filled crater. One side is hilly with dense plant life. The other side is a flat, black swatch of land resembling something like the surface of the moon. Guess which side caught the fury of the last eruption.

Volcano Crater, Irazú, Costa Rica

Flat Black Side, Irazú, Costa Rica

The trip up to Irazú is an experience in itself. The country side is beautiful. On the way up the side of the volcano, I was mesmerized by the vegetation and the many small, hidden villages that would inexplicably appear at a turn in the road. I was so engrossed with one side of the road that I missed many things until we came back down.

For instance, this random hotel and restaurant combination that is literally in the middle of nowhere.

Random Hotel and Restaurant, Irazú, Costa Rica

When I saw this collection of empty but well preserved buildings, I asked the tour guide what it was. An old leper colony, he said. LEPER COLONY? Yes, apparently there was an active leper colony here until the 40's. I had them stop the bus so I could trudge up a muddy hill to get this shot. The wispy fog hovering over the tops of the trees gave it the appropriate creepy feeling. Not to mention there was nothing else around this complex as far as the eye could see. There was no sound whatsoever but the wind. The tour guides were uncharacteristically UNchatty about the leper colony or what it was being used for these days. Somethings might be better left undiscovered.

Decommissioned Leper Colony, Irazú, Costa Rica

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Blogger suzy said...

El Rubio, coolness.
The leper colony sounds interesting. You could build a wild conspiracy theory on that...It is great they stopped the bus for you, it is a great photo.

11:58 PM

Blogger 希望 said...

wonderful ..................................................

3:02 AM

Blogger Jim said...

Thanks Suzy,

I found if you ask, you get in Costa Rica. Of course it helped we only had 4 people on the bus :)

The colony was super creepy considering its size and complete isolation on the side of a volcano.

6:03 AM

Blogger Jim said...

Thanks 希望!

6:04 AM


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