We decided to check out a place that is between Atenas and Alajuela. It calls itself the Botanical Orchid Garden. This was an odyssey that included a fabulous lunch at a local roadside soda.
We went off down the rabbit hole. . .
We boarded the local bus, paid our 695 colones (about $1.20 american) and rode down the mountain to a fork in the road. Now, I have to say that my photograph collection is completely devoid of pictures of any roads. However, it is instructive to note that for many years the main highway across Costa Rica from San Jose to the coast was this two lane road complete with one lane bridges across serious rivers and potholes galore. The fact that the nation of Costa Rica has, at great expense, constructed a newer, finer highway that actually has four lanes when you near San Jose has not changed that the original road is still a main one. Especially when the new highway washes out in a big rain, which it does on a regular basis.
At any rate, after fifteen minutes or so we alighted from our transport and traipsed off down a secondary road. It took about five minutes to walk out of the settled strip that fronted the main highway into coutryside, complete with cows, cane fields, and a little creek.
Notice the line of pollarded trees in the foreground. I am in complete ignorance of what sort of trees they are, but they serve as living fence posts for the barbed wire that kept the herd of cows that was browsing in that field off the road. Quite often people then interplant banana trees very close together in the gaps between the hardwoods, and within a few months you have a thick and impenetrable barrier of beautiful green that also has the added advantage that the leaves break up and dissipate the sound from the road.
By the way, while taking these shots I was standing at the edge of the blacktop on a road that was barely wide enough to allow two pickup trucks to pass. Needless to say there was no sidewalk, although there was a path in the weedy road verge that showed where other pedestrians had walked. We used the path, not wanting to compete for the pavement with the traffic, which was heavy and varied from trucks loaded with all sorts of farm goods to bicycles and included smoking rattletrap cars.
I zoomed in on the house that is the ranch house for this acreage. This is not a typical Costa Rican house, being rather on the ritzy side.
The view of Volcan Poas from the ridge where I was looking down on this was spectacular.
In the foreground are the roofs of a gated community. I really can’t take these attempts at security very seriously, because the beautiful brick fence with the manned main gate house fronted the main road, to be sure, but it was truncated at the end of that property line; there were no side fences at all.
We walked about a kilometer along the little road, past other interesting vignettes: a man mixing a concrete patch for a driveway, using a shovel and the pothole he was fixing for the concrete mixer; a 2500 gallon gas truck stopped in the middle of the street pumping some fuel into the car of some hapless motorist who had run out. Eventually we arrived at the gates of the botanical garden. There seemed to be some sort of aromatherapy fair going on inside, and we started to enter the back gate, which was open wide to allow the vendors to load out their goods.
A very polite, young, and handsome security guard came running up the road to redirect our steps to the Front Gate and Welcome Center, where they could extract the entrance fee from us. At the time I felt this was rather stiff at $12.00, and also unexpected since an entrance fee was not mentioned anywhere on their flyer, and especially considering this was a commercial operation breeding and growing orchids for the consumer. In addition to their amazing collection, they had a sales room where they were going to sell you not only orchids but all the supplies you might need to grow them successfully. And a gift shop.
Be that as it may be, Jeri cheerfully offered her plastic object to the cashier, who accepted it with alacrity, did that magical computer thing, handed us a receipt for the electronic transfer of an imaginary concept from one large corporate computer system to another’s, and we were graciously admitted to paradise.
Before I take you off into this wilderness of ruffles and color, let me just mention that some of these orchids had the most enchanting scents that wafted about and turned your head towards thoughts of sybaritic lounging in dappled shade while sipping nectar of the Gods.
The above depicted one was one of those. I felt like I was falling into the center of it, and it taught me a whole new meaning to the term “Flower Power.”
A caveat: I have no idea what any of these flowers are named. There was not a single tag in any pot that I could see, although I’m sure there were numbers on the bottoms of them that told the gardeners everything they needed to know about the denizens of the pots. The whole greenhouse wore an air of tropical abandon, the weeds growing under the growing benches in the shade houses were pothos, impatiens, crotons, rabbit’s foot ferns, and assorted dieffenbachia.
My mind was blown. We left the gardens in sensory overload. Take a deep breath, . . .get ready, . . . a…n…..d…….. GO!
Okay. Take a deep breath and emerge from the enticing world of the orchid for now.
I don’t know about you, but I need to emerge from euphoria. I’m going to stop for now, but I will continue at a later date. Orchids were not all that was available to delight in this garden extravaganza.