Sunday, July 6, 2008
IRAZU - Part 1
Volcanoes are a major part of life here in Costa Rica. They have created the rich soil that makes this little country an agricultural paradise. They are also a MAJOR tourist attraction, and Costa Rica’s economy is largely based on its ability to attract tourists.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Irazú is definitely my favorite of Costa Rica’s five active volcanoes. From my living room window, it is one of the first thing I see every morning. Irazú’s slopes are gently rounded and covered with villages and farms. As you drive upward along the switchbacks toward the summit, the land falls away to your right in deep gorges with rushing streams and valleys with rivers below simmering like ribbons of silver in the sunlight. To your left the land slopes steeply upward and much of it is cultivated. The fields of cabbage are winding rows of green with an occasional row of purple cabbage. There are also field of carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, and potatoes. In some fields, tractors move slowly as laborers stack sacks or boxes of produce into the wagon. In other fields, yokes of oxen plod along pulling carts into which the produce is stacked. As you climb higher, you often pass through veils of clouds. It is cool and hushed, the trees draped in Spanish moss and orchids. Nearing the summit, the fields of crops give way to pasture for dairy cattle. It is not uncommon to round a curve and find several very contented cows calmly standing in the middle of the road. From the summit, on a clear day, you can see the peak of another volcano, Arenal, in a range of mountains running northwest toward Nicaragua. And if you are very fortunate, and the day is very clear, you can see both oceans, the Caribbean to the east and the Pacific to the west.