Two Coasts and No Army, 5: The Virtual Volcano, 30 November 2023

January 28, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

       When planning our trip, HL and I had to choose between renting a car or hiring a driver.  We selected the latter option.  Dario, a genial Tico (the local name for a native Costa Rican), met us at the hotel on our second morning in San José.  We wanted to ascend to Poás, a volcano with one of the world’s largest craters.  The narrow road north had only one lane in either direction.  As Dario’s car inched its way towards the foothills, we knew that we had made the correct decision regarding transportation.  

       Poás Volcano rises to a height of about 2,700 meters.  Its crater is shaped like a vast bowl. The crater contains a lake of lava that is extremely  acidic, causing acid rain to fall in the area.  Even more dangerous are the explosive gases that the volcano emits.  At times, the national park surrounding Poás has to be evacuated.  The volcano is quite active.  Its last major eruption occurred in 2019.

The path to the peak was lined with flowering Gunnera plants.  The Gunnera leaves are so large that they are known as Poor Man's Umbrella (Sombrilla de Pobre)

The Gunnera's leaves and flowers give it a prehistoric appearance.  In fact, it is a member of a plant family 

that has flourished in the tropics for about 100 million years.

       The high altitude and moist air give Poás its own weather.   Often, clouds obscure the peak.  It was cool and misty as HL and I started walking uphill.  Soon it became cold, windy and wet.  When we reached the observation deck, we peered down into a featureless whiteness.  We waited as the sky lightened and darkened alternatively, so we could see our shadows before we had to seek shelter from the pelting rain once again.  The volcano remained shrouded from view.  So I could not verify its existence with my own eyes.  HL and I had known that Poás might not be visible, so we left, somewhat disappointed but intent on getting warm and dry.

                                                                       Though I lingered at the railing above the crater, I saw only the thick mist.  

Signs like this one illustrated what the mists concealed from us.


 


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