Walter Coto and hostesses at his
Active Volcano Highlights
Our Tour Of Costa Rica
OR the second leg of our Costa Rica tour, we depart the Las Palmas Beach Resort in Punta Uva, on the Atlantic coast near the Panama border, and drive inland toward Turrialba.
We are on our way to inspect three more Minotel hotels in the country. We had already checked out the urban Villa Tournon upon arrival in the capital city of San Jose. And we had just stayed a couple of days at the Las Palmas Beach Resort.
On the way from the eastern coast we make a pit stop at Pochotel, situated on the side of a mountain. Owner Oscar Garcia Lopez greets us interlopers and guides us outside for a panoramic overlook of the valley below and the city of Turrialba.
The city was founded in 1903, but the area has been inhabited for 3,000 years. Today it has 30,000 inhabitants. “Turrialba women are the most beautiful in the country,” says Walter Coto.
Coto owns the city’s two Minotel signatures: Wagelia Hotel downtown and Hotel Geliwa in a residential area.
After we look over the Geliwa, which offers 25 rooms with phone and TV, private swimming pool, a tourist information center and local tours, we get back in the car.
On to Cartago, the country’s colonial capital from 1564 to 1823. Be sure to see the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles, a very impressive structure, built in 1912.
Basilica in Cartago
We return to San Jose for overnight at the Minotel Villa Tournon. Costa Rica is a magnet for some 25,000 U.S. retirees, 95 percent of whom live in the capital’s northern neighborhood of Carreara.
We had to see a live volcano, so we make our way toward the town of La Fortuna. We pass through such towns as Sarchi with its artisan co-op market (where you can purchase a variety of home items made of fine wood), and Zarcero where the beautifully designed San Rafael Arcangel Church and its fauna maze in the plaza stands in the middle of town.
The highlands are dotted with cattle ranches and dairy farms. We’re told that Costa Rica is known as the Switzerland of Central America. Watermelon and coffee beans are also found in abundance.
Church with fauna maze in Zarcero
We arrive at Hotel Los Lagos at the foot of the Arenal Volcano. Hotel owner Fabio Cedeno assures us that all his guests are safe, even though the volcano has been active since 1968 when it killed three people. For a story on the August 23, 2000 eruption see www.monteverdeinfo.com/arenal.hotel-los-lagos-arenal.htm.
We are very lucky that it’s a clear day. We can clearly see that the volcano is alive – occasionally flying rocks tumble down, kicking up clouds of dust. The awesome spectacle is especially visible at night as a vision of burning rocks crashing down the mountainside.
General manager Christian Amores Saborio, Fabio’s son-in-law, takes us on a tour of the property. We are amused by the crocodile farm, the turtle area and the butterfly collection. He points to the blue Morpho Peleides butterfly which he says is a very rare specimen.
Back in San Jose for a final night at the Villa Tournon to prepare for a return flight on American Airlines to New York.