Hi,

Sunday was our host’s last day, so we hung out a bit to enjoy their company and meet some resident friends of Leigh’s as well.  I can’t think of anytime anyone has made me feel as welcome as Leigh has.  I think she’s in the wrong profession, she should be an Innkeeper.  :)

Speaking of hospitality, I saw the other side the night before last at a locally famous restaurant, the Gingerbread House.  The chef/owner/proprietor is known for being colorful and quite skilled with food.  We made a reservation and arrived, they don’t have a “menu” per say.  The daily offering is listed on a chalk board as you enter.  $13 for salads & appetizers and $27 for entrees are pretty pricey by Costa Rican standards.  On the other side, the hostess/waitress suggested we only order two each and share.  And that turned out fine.  Since arriving in Costa Rica, I have had very little Internet access, so generally I get my pictures organized in the morning and draft my blog post in Word then as well.  When we stop for dinner, I copy and paste the Word document into my blog, post the pictures, edit the wording and post it.  I had my computer out on the end of the table attempting to do this when the chef/owner/proprietor came to our table and greeted us.  He looked at me and said that he doesn’t approve of computer use in his restaurant.  I explained my dilemma and he left.  I don’t want to be on the computer when I’m trying to eat dinner anyway and I always try and get my post done before the food arrives.  The chef/owner/proprietor comes back out on the patio and announces “I guess he doesn’t believe me that I will not serve food while a computer is on.   In this restaurant, food is #1”.  Feeling singled out, I turned my computer off, waited for dinner to be served and then finished my post.  We were given smaller plates to be used as we shared our appetizers and salads and they were replaced with dinner sized plates for sharing the entrees.  The two desserts we were served came with only extra spoons, no sharing plates.  I love my traveling companions and can attest to their general health.  But they are friends, not family.  When we requested plates, the hostess/waitress looked at us incredulously and said “But its dessert”.  We said “Yes, and we prefer side plates”.  She was obviously, not overly comfortable with our request.   As we were leaving, the hostess/waitress asked how everything was and I told her that other than feeling unwelcome and singled out, the experience was OK.  She asked how the food was and I said fine and she responded “I’m glad you enjoyed the food”.  You know, before you even have a mouthful of your meal, your dining experience has been evolving.  Was the restaurant doors clean when you entered?  Was the staff appropriately clothed and friendly?  Were the tables and appointments appropriate?  Was the aroma coming from the kitchen enticing?  Are the bathrooms clean?  I have seen perfectly prepared food served in an establishment that was lacking in some of my above questions and the food experience was compromised.  I don’t blame the chef/owner/proprietor for setting standards, as I do at my Inn, but when dealing with the public (particularly international travelers), you need to know when to bend. I wasn’t on Facebook.

I had spoken earlier about the Costa Rican use of live plants as fence posts.  They plant anything in a row, from reedy arealias to regular trees and any combination thereof.  Here’s one example of a live fence:

Yesterday, we went to the little town Fortuna right below the active Arenal Volcano.  The main purpose of going there was to see the Fortuna Rio Catarata (which is around 220 feet-about a twenty story building):

Here’s a picture of the waterfall that is carved out of andesitic rock.  (Andesitic is volcano created rock as opposed to rock formed in the earth.  Volcanic rock is extruded and doesn’t have the time to form crystals and although they look like their cousins (in this case granite), their structure is different (I’m traveling with a geologist as well as a horticulturalist).  Here’s a picture of exposed andesitic rock next to the waterfall:

And here’s a picture of vines, etc that are thriving in the mist and humidity under the waterfall:

After leaving the waterfall, we went to the small town of Fortuna to see “the most photographed church in Costa Rica”.  San Juan Bosco is named after the first person from the Americas canonized (I believe he was the first).  The description in the tour book was of a squat masonry church in the town square.  We drove around the square twice looking for some ancient structure and all that was there was:

A cute church, but why would this structure be “the most photographed church”?  Look at this:

Having the volcano in the back ground does set it apart.

Here’s a cool picture of a city street with the volcano in the background:

And the town square is way cool.  Although the following picture doesn’t show how much the square is used, there were tons of locals and tourists enjoying it.  I do have a couple of pictures showing its use, but this one has the nicest view of the square.  There were kids playing, kites flying, dogs sun bathing, neighbors talking and tourists snapping pictures.  Driving up to the waterfall I noticed a lot of people walking along the road and when we left there were a lot of people walking on the road.  I guess the town is about 4km from the little town and there’s a bunch of small hotels, hostels, and other lodging options.  And I saw people in the town that I had seen at the waterfall, so all those folks walking were staying in the town.  Here’s the town square:

Well, that’s about it for today, have a great one,

ed

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