This has been a glorious week! The kids went back to school on Tuesday and Corey and I decided to take advantage of our free days, clinic without the kids, buy viagra and explore a little more. We had rented a car for the week, just like the little car in the pictures of Arenal, and took a few day trips this week. It’s funny because a destination can be 23 miles away, but it takes an hour and a half to get there, partly because of traffic, but mostly because of pot-hole filled windy roads through the mountains.

On Tuesday we headed to Volcan Irazu, the closest volcano to where we live. It last erupted in 1963, the day John F. Kennedy visited Costa Rica. They say that for two years after it sprayed ash that went as far as San Jose. It’s the highest volcano in Costa Rica. Many people compare walking around the volcano to walking on the moon – although I don’t think anybody who has said that has actually walked on the moon! It is bizarre, however. There is one area that is pretty flat and as you walk around it’s all grey sand. I’m not even sure how to describe it, but it just feels kind of weird! This picture is of the main crater. One thing about visiting the volcanos is that you have to get there early in the morning because the clouds roll in by noon. We were so blessed to have such a clear view of the crater. The lake is filled with sulphuric acid. Although the view is beautiful, the smell is not. It was too cloudy through the rest of the mountains, though, to see the other neat thing about Irazu – apparently on a clear day you can see the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. Nonetheless, the crater and the walk around, knowing we were actually standing on a volcano, was incredible!

On our way back to San Jose we passed through Cartago, home of The Basilica de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles, a huge church where in August a pilgramage of people from all over the country and beyond go to celebrate the 1635 appearance of Costa Rica’s patron saint. The church is pretty incredible.

The three major volcanos in Costa Rica are Arenal, Irazu and Poas. On Thursday we completed the tour of all three. We hit Volcan Poas. We had tried months ago to go to Poas, but as I said before, there are many times where it just isn’t visible. We left a little later in the morning than we had wanted to and on the way up I kept preparing myself that we might drive all that way and not get to see anything. But when we arrived, just as with Irazu, it was completely clear! You can see some pockets of steam in the picture. It’s amazing to hear the volcano “breathing” and sending out puffs of steam. Last month they had to shut the park down for a week because the volcano had been shooting out acid rain, a little more active than normal.

We hiked through the forest, a pretty much all uphill hike, to Botos Lake, another crater that has since filled in with rain water. Nothing lives in the water because there is still a lot of acid in it.

On the way home from Volcan Poas we went to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. It was pretty incredible. There was a butterfly farm, hummingbird gardens, frog gardens and five gorgeous waterfalls. I’ve always wanted to go to a butterfly farm. It was crazy with butterflies soaring all over. The hummingbird gardens had natural flowers that attract hummingbirds and lots of feeders. Hummingbirds were shooting from feeder to feeder. The waterfalls were amazing (I know I use this word far too much, but Costa Rica truly is amazing!) Our legs were pretty tired from the Poas hike, but it was well worth it to see each waterfall!

I’ve posted pictures here – Costa Rica Pictures – of all the exploring we did!