Do you know that feeling, when you ache all over but you welcome it, because you know it's the result of a great experience? That's how I feel today, after the terrific adventure I had yesterday visiting Poás Volcano in Costa Rica.
I am not the best plan maker in the world, and I have my reasons - I don't do a lot of research before going on a trip, because I don't want the spark of anticipation to vanish. I love the feeling of getting lost for awhile and the pleasure of discovering something new, preferably, a happy ending. Just like yesterday.
I left home at 7 am; I knew I had to take 2 buses. The first one was from home to Alajuela Center, where Buses to Poás Volcano depart. The bus to Poás cost ₡1,090 (Colones), which is $2 (useful to know if you're a tourist).
Because I got there early, I had to wait a whole hour for the bus to come. It was a rather windy day, so each time the wind blew, the dust covered everything and everyone around, including me – I got showered by dust. It didn't seem like the day was going great but as Anna Frank once said - “As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it...”
The bus departed at 9:15am. My whole body was buzzing with the thrill of the upcoming adventure. I took my camera out and started making videos and taking selfies immediately.
The road became greener and greener, my eyes almost forgot how wonderful nature in Costa Rica is. The next hour was music to my spirit, sweetness to my eyes. Hills covered by exotic trees, the view of the volcano in the far distance, the distinction of the different green tones.
The bus stopped for us to have breakfast exactly after one hour on the road. I got my Gallo Pinto (traditional Costa Rican breakfast) to takeaway, because I was busy taking photos. No time for coffee neither.
Five minutes later, back on the road, we saw a group of tourists taking pictures. Our bus driver stopped so we could check what it was they taking pictures of. It was a three-toed baby sloth, so cute and lazy! He was moving graciously. I managed to film him and to take pictures. A girl called Sophia, who was sitting next to me on the bus, asked if I was a reporter. I said no, I am a blogger, and we struck a conversation.
Less than an hour later, we were at our destination. Because I am a Costa Rica citizen, I only had to pay ₡1,000 entrance fee. But if you're not, you'd have to pay ₡8,000. Such a big different! I consider myself fortunate to be able to see so much beauty without having to spend a fortune.
We didn't have a guide. Everyone got divided in groups. Sophia and I joined two other guys, one from Spain and the other one from Venezuela. We were concerned wether to take the first entrance, where there was a café, or to take a little path that read 'Laguna Botos trail'. A local man advised us that both options were good, but that the Laguna Botos trail would be his personal choice. It didn't sound too bad to us, in fact so we went for it.
The view was mind-blowing, the smell of mud and trees agreeable. It was also windy, very windy, so windy that even though I was wearing a jumper, I still felt the wind in my bones. We were hiking, all the way up. Fifteen minutes later I felt my heart racing; I stopped to catch my breath and to have a sip of water; then I realized that my group had left me.
I was there, alone, in a jungle - home for while snakes, frog and other animals. It wasn't the animals that I was so afraid of to be honest, it was not making it to the end. I hesitated whether I should continue or go back and take the other route. I saw 3 guys were coming back already, so I asked them how much more there was to walk before the Volcano View. “Two kilometers,” they said, “but you can't see much.”
I then felt discouraged and wanted to join them on their way back. After all, I didn't want to be in the jungle alone and have to walk 2 more kilometers with my heart racing. It was there when I realized that I urgently needed to start going to the Gym. Another challenge!
I followed the 3 guys for a bit until I saw a woman struggling like me. Her husband wanted to go on, but her body didn't respond well to the exhausting trail. I decided to join her. This lady needed support as much as I did. So I told her, “I am here with you, let's do it, step by step.”
Her husband left us behind. It took us more than 1 hour to reach the top. Those were the longest 2 kilometers in my life! I couldn't feel my feet anymore; they were so cold. My companion, on the other hand, native to cold Canada, was boiling hot. Our only moment of pleasure during the trip was when we saw beautiful plants and took pictures of them.
In general we were regretting having chosen that trail. Just as we were arriving at the top, we realized that the idea was to follow the short road towards the cafe, see the volcano, and take the trail on your way back. We had done it the wrong way round! How silly we where!
I found my group on the top of the hill, hiding in a small wood house. Sofia, who frozen and disappointed because the view had been hidden by fog.
It was a good opportunity to socialize. We chatted and made jokes, never loosing faith that the fog will clear and we will eventually see the crater of the volcano. It was midday and the bus was coming to pick us up at 2:30pm. At 1 o'clock, we decided to go for a hot chocolate and to return back to the spot to see the volcano.
The truth is, I broke my sugar-free routine and for a good reason - I was frozen and desperately needed that hot chocolate. Actually, those 2 hot chocolates. And the banana cake. (The cafe didn't have any proper food.)
We all felt better. Still dreaming about the volcano, we suddenly heard someone saying that the view had cleared. We ran! We had less than 1 hour. We jumped laughing, with the greatest excitement! We saw it, it was magic! I am talking about the largest active crater in the world!
I took sooo many pictures! I wanted to share it with you. Perhaps you may want to visit it one day. All I can say is – it is worthy. Just one advice, if you are not very fit, don't take the trail Laguna Botos up. Is a killer, unless you want to sleep like a baby that day.
Because of my trip to Poas I challenged myself to train my body more.
Have you ever visited a volcano? How was your experience? Did you learn something from your experience?
How have you challenged yourself today?
Leave your answer in the comment section down bellow, I would love to hear your story.
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