Hi,

Day 2 Orosi Valley

Correction from yesterday.  It wasn’t the Honduran embassy across from the Inn we stayed at, it was the  Nicaraguan, sorry for confusing the flag.

The Valley of Orosi surrounds a lake that is a hydro-electric project that is quite scenic.  When arriving from San Jose, the first large city you pass is Cartago, the home of the ruins of one of the oldest cathedras in Costa Rica, Las Ruinas de la Parroquia.  Also in this city is Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles, which is the most significant site in the city which is an amazing Byzantine style open air church that just exudes style.  Stained glass windows, wood carved altars, hand painted murals, jewel encrusted statues are just a few of the high lights.  Built in 1635, it has been renovated many times, but remains true to its original design.  One tradition that shows the religious fervor of some is approaching the basilica on your knees, even from as far away as from San Jose (about 15 miles) for the Feast of the Assumption in August.

Here’s a picture of Los Angeles from the outside:

Here’s a picture of the inside:

The highway encircling the lake is pretty well paved, as has been most roads we’ve encountered so far.  Driving around is at a fairly leisurely pace.  Partially because traffic is so dense and the roads are not equipped with turn lanes, shoulders, etc.  Having a relatively smooth paved road is a lot nicer than was anticipated in the outer areas.  But be careful of the scooters, they are everywhere and don’t seem to have any rules.

The hillsides are full of farms growing mainly coffee, but a lot of other agriculture as well.  And this is grown on these unbelievably steep slopes.  I can’t imagine working those slopes all day.

Here’s some slopes:

At the far east of this lake is a VERY narrow one lane bridge that when we crossed it, we had to share the traveling lanes with school kids walking in front of us (there was no sidewalk area).  J  But shortly before that, there was a heavily used suspension bridge over the river that filled the lake.  Permanent, very narrow entrances keep cars and scooters off the bridge.  See the bridge below:

Next is a picture of a previous bridge that seems to have been non-suspension and had been washed away:

We were traveling along the south of the lake and it was later afternoon by the time we decided to stop for lunch.  There’s a ton of little cantina kind of restaurants along any road you travel in Costa Rica.  Most cantinas seem, at best, to be boring opportunities to put something in your stomach.  One of the things I like about traveling is “local color”, so I seldom eat at any kind of chain while on the road.  So we found this open air cantina with the proprietor sitting alone in the restaurant.  It looked pretty clean and wholesome, so we pulled in.  #1 he had the tables covered in white table cloths with a red napkin angled decoratively angled in the center.  #2, as we entered and the five of us were squeezing into a four top table and he came over, greeted us and immediately pulled another table so we had plenty of room.  He then went back to the counter and started turning the TV he was watching down.  I told me not to be concerned, it didn’t bother us.  He said OK and still turned it down.  He gave us the menus & asked what we would want to drink (in Spanish, he spoke no English).  We ordered and he made his recommendations on what menu items he recommended to order and left us.  He came back shortly afterwards to take our order and three of us had ordered beer and two had soft drinks.  I told him I didn’t want a glass, so when he brought a second beer, he had a napkin decoratively wrapped around the neck of the bottle and one folded as a holder across the center of the bottle.  I love little touches.  He served the ladies first and really paid attention to us (granted, we were the only guests, but I’ve been in places with the same scenario and been ignored).  And then came out the entrees!  OMG, for such a little place the quantity of the food, the presentation was amazing and the food quality and flavoring was right on base.  I had ordered chicken and rice, pretty standard Spanish faire.  The pulled chicken and rice had a very healthy portion that was decorated with several tortilla chips on top.  There was a small side salad of fresh tomatoes & lettuce with a light vinaigrette.  The side of refried beans had a unique flavor; I think it may have had a dash of mole.  I had asked the proprietor for a business card and he did give me one because I wanted to give his business a push.  Unfortunately I seem to have lost it.  If I come across it again, I will post it.  He doesn’t have a web site, but if I give his address, etc some other traveler may have the opportunity to enjoy this fine establishment.  We were so full that we never had dinner that evening.

We headed off Tuesday for Leigh’s home on Lake Arenal.  After a number of minor wrong turns, one of which was through the famous wind farm (well over 100) serviced by the constant winds off Lake Arenal and then down a very steep decline to the lake.  While descending, we passed a troupe of White-Faced Monkeys:

Have a great one,

ed

 

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