‘So, where’s the volcano?’ I asked our guide in broken Spanish. He pointed straight ahead and I squinted, trying to make out the shape, the colour, the steam… anything which would give away the existence of an active volcano. Had I in fact just been completely ripped off?
We had flown in from New York on the earliest flight possible, so that we could have an afternoon exploring the tropical lands just outside of San Jose, Costa Rica before embarking on a trip of a lifetime north to Guatemala. Our first impressions of San Jose were average. The part of town we were staying in gave nothing away in terms of culture or interesting things to occupy us, so we decided to head out of the city and into the cloud forests which this part of the world is so famous for.
Unfortunately, due to our late arrival we had missed all of the tours out to nearby attractions, so we hired a local friend of our hostel’s owner, Eduardo, to drive us out to Volcan Poas, which we were warned was usually better in the mornings and might be a little clouded over.
A ‘little clouded over’? Are you shitting me? Does this look ‘a little clouded over’ to you?
What awaited us after our hike to the lookout point was none other than a white sheet, cruelly hung there by the anti-travelling gods. And even worse, it has cost us over $100 to hire Eduardo to take us the 2 hour journey to the volcano, and we had hiked half an hour in the pissing rain to get here. After our long drive here, I was starting to believe that Eduardo was not all he appeared to be and had just fleeced us out of a hundred bucks, and driven us to the middle of nowhere to stand on the edge of a cliff.
Were we just about to be pushed into the white abyss? Held to ransom by an elderly Colombian man, spending his final days in Costa Rica slowly murdering the travelling population for a hundred dollars a time?
Right about now I was laughing manically thanks to the severe lack of sleep from our crack of dawn departure from the Big Apple, and Eduardo suggested we hike higher through the cloud forest to try to get a view of Laguna Botos, a supposedly beautiful electric-blue lake. Well, why not? It was worth a try, right? Providing we didn’t get murdered on the way, of course.
So we took to the path through the cloud forest, which in the dull light was beyond creepy.
The rain was still lashing down and I wasn’t holding out much hope of finding the exotic, sparkling lake at the top of the trail. The sounds of a jungle filled the air, but no trace of what was causing the sounds was betrayed. Even more creepy. We hurried further and further into the black in the vain hope of a miracle, and when we finally arrived at our destination, we were greeted with this wondrous scene…
Just kidding. This is a picture of a sign we found up there.
What we really saw was this….
Defeated, we trudged back down the trail to our original lookout point, where we bumped into a couple of Spanish travellers on their way through Costa Rica. They had been waiting for over an hour for the cloud to clear but with no joy. We happily chatted to them for a while, finding out more about their journey through Central America, whilst Eduardo regularly popped his head over the edge of the cliff in hope that the cloud would clear.
After some time, we decided to cut our losses and head back to San Jose before sunset. As we turned to make our way back down the slippery road, Eduardo suddenly screeched out in excitement.
‘Mira! Mira! El volcán!’
Can you make it out? The crater with bright blue water and the steam rising from this active volcano? Well, I tell you I was just WETTING myself with excitement. After hours of what could only be described as a total whiteout, my pulse was racing, I was jumping up and down and screaming at the crater. So much so that I nearly forgot to take any photos! Nearly….
Now, I don’t care that we only saw the volcano for 10 seconds, nor that all of our photos were of us standing in front of a nondescript white background. What matters is that Mother Nature did eventually play ball, and gave us a tiny glimpse of her majesty. God, she is a legend I just love her SO MUCH!
Completely elated, we left the park with memories of our good fortune, and treated ourselves and Eduardo to some well-deserved strawberries, grown in the local farmlands. And guess what? The sun came out in force for our journey home. Life is funny like that sometimes. You wait forever for the rain to clear and then all of a sudden it’s the brightest day of your life.