Day Two: Driving from San José to Monteverde, with stops at the Volcán Poás, the La Paz Waterfall Gardens and the village of Sarchi.


Here is an example of one of the MANY “cow crossings” we experienced while driving our rental car throughout Costa Rica. The cows were very well behaved and accepting of cars. They simply walked along the side of the road, within inches of the cars. (Notice the one cow getting a bit pushy!).

And here we have a lovely heard of Costa Rican jersey cows crossing the road on our way to the Poás Volcano.

The trip to the top of the crater of Poás Volcano was short and sweet, with instant gratification. One simply drives to the parking lot, takes a lovely two kilometer stroll and then BOOM there it is! The lazy American tourist's volcano...

The water in the crater looked like melted lime sherbet mixed with cream. Very strange...

The guide book instructed us to visit the volcano before 10 am; before these clouds, imminent on the horizon, completely annihilated our view!

Nina somehow convinces Chris to pose for a photo, which is a daunting task since Chris hates “staged” photography! But hey, it's not a bad photo after all...

Chris, acting like he doesn't know his picture is being taken. Very crafty...

Next, we took another short, but rather steep, hike to the Laguna Botos, which looks like a lovely, idealic place for a swim, but the contaminates from the volcano have made it toxic and deadly.

Nina strikes a pose in front of the Laguna Botos.

Chris and Nina stroll along the beautiful path to Laguna Botos.

Just down the road from Volcán Poás, is the beautiful La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which has an aviary, butterfly observatory, monkey house, hummingbird garden, snake house, frog house, trout lake and five waterfalls, as well as a luxurious hotel and restaurants, on the 70 acre property.

The huge property was filled with gorgeous, exotic, tropical flowers and plants.

This beautiful display of butterflies welcomes visitors to the butterfly observatory.

These wonderful displays show a huge variety of native Costa Rican butterflies in the process of hatching.

This up close photo shows the pupae stage of the butterflies metamorphosis from egg to caterpillar to butterfly.

Twenty different species of butterflies roam freely throughout the butterfly observatory.

This butterfly stops to feast on what looks like mango puree.

In addition to butterflies, the butterfly observatory is filled with gorgeous orchids. In this photo, a beautiful, pale, earth toned butterfly stops to rest.

These beautiful orange butterflies looks like monarchs...?

After much effort and many failed attempts, Nina manages to finally capture a photo of the elusive and fast neon blue butterfly. It was the only species of butterfly that literally never stopped moving!

This display lists some of the butterflies common to Costa Rica.

A friendly park employee holds a colorful ball up to these curious spider monkeys, so that us tourists can capture some great, up close shots.

Ahhhhh.... he's looking right at me!

Now, this little guy is a bit “bitey” isn't he!?

Here's a photo of the beautiful white-faced or Capucin monkey.

Here's some White Tufted Eared Marmosets on the move... They're fast little devils so Nina couldn't catch any pictures of their faces.

The hummingbird garden consists of rows and rows of feeders and flowering trees and bushes. Droves of hummingbirds swarmed around the open area. Can that really be the hummingbird's beak or is it chewing on something!?

A couple of finches decided to drop by the hummingbird garden.

We saw a lot of hummingbirds in the wild while in Costa Rica. Apparently, the word for hummingbird in Spanish is Colibries.

The infamous fer de lance (thankfully behind thick glass). This is the most venomous snake in all of Costa Rica (and they have plenty of poisonous snakes!). Apparently, the fer de lance is aggressive and literally seeks out victims and attacks at will. It's been known to drop down from trees! We are both very, very thankful that we have successfully visited Costa Rica twice now without every coming into contact with a fer de lance (or any snakes for that matter). Although, we heard there was a boa constrictor at the bottom of one of our hotel pools during our first trip!

These oxen pull a traditional painted Costa Rican ox cart, originally used for hauling coffee from the hills to the coffee mills.

This up close photo shows the oxen's decorative yoke.

Chris and Kathy prepare for the trek (and I mean trek) down to the waterfalls on “Bernardo's Trail.” The tallest waterfall is 120 feet.

This beautiful bridge surrounded by moss covered trees leads to the first waterfall.

The beautiful Templo waterfall.

Chris stands at the overlook to the Templo waterfall.

The Rio La Paz flows over each of the five waterfalls.

Chris walks down the trail to the next waterfall.

The Templo waterfall from a distance.

The Magia Blanca waterfall, just a ways down river from the Templo waterfall.

A view of the underside of Magia Blanca waterfall from the platform.

Chris stands at the base of Magia Blanca.

The Encantada and the Escondida waterfalls flow side by side into the same pool.

Chris looks over the edge to the rushing waters below.

Chris and Nina stop for a photo in front of Encantada waterfall.

After hiking back up Bernardo's Trail, which Nina referred to as the “Ho Chi Min Death March”, in lieu of taking the free shuttle, we took a much needed break at the frog house where we saw these little poison dart frogs.

During our first trip to Costa Rica, while visiting the town of Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast, we meet local children that would catch these frogs and show them to tourists for tips. They're pretty tricky to find on your own!

This guy looks more like a banana slug!

Ewwww... now that's slimy!

These rather tame Scarlet Macaws put on quite a show.

A little girl walked right up to these guys and stuck out her hand, while mom wasn't watching! Luckily for her, she still has all her fingers!

Don't hold us to this, but we “think” this is a blue macaw and a gray parrot.

We saw plenty of these tiny, yellow, finch-like birds in the wild.

Ahhhh... the colorful Toucan, Nina's absolute favorite tropical bird. She simply loves their beaks!

Nina likes to call “Tooky, Tooky, Tooky” to them and it seems to work! Kathy went inside the bird cage and nearly got attacked by toucans.

While lounging around in the Tabacon Hot Springs at the base of Arenal Volcano, we saw a flock of toucans fly about the trees. It was incredible!!

Nina couldn't stop taking photos of this “parrot couple.” They were just so cute and snuggly.

They were also very friendly and I swear they were posing!!

On our way to Monteverde, we stopped in the village of Sarchi, where the locals are famous for making traditional painted ox carts. We shopped at Fabrica de Cheverri, makers of carretas for generations.

It was fascinating to watch them work. They must have really good eye sight and ridiculously steady hands! One of the painters looked well into his 60s. We bought an ox cart during our first trip to Costa Rica and love it. The ox carts are cleverly marketed as not just wonderful souvenirs but also mini bars! The tops of the ox carts consist of two serving trays and within there are holes for bottles of alcohol!

Ox carts have been used for centuries in Costa Rica to move coffee amongst other things. The wheels of the ox carts have remained squeaky through the years to warn Tica women involved in affairs when their husbands are returning from the fields.

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