So as not to get the bends when we landed back in the States, my partner and I spent our last couple of days in the Central Highlands.  Specifically, we explored the Orosi Valley.

We drove there via Limon, which took a lot longer than a map would imply.  The roads are all 2 lanes—really more like 1.5 lanes—and crawling with big trucks.  The roads are also curvy and hilly, so it is hard to pass.  No matter, sitting back and enjoying the scenery, a bag of plantain chips in hand, listening to funky fusion music on the radio, was enough to keep me entertained along the way.

Orosi Valley is a little village that evokes a Swiss Miss hot chocolate feel, except that there is a Spanish colonial mission in the town center. 

The Orosi Lodge, where we stayed when we eventually arrived, is cheerful and charming.  It is German run.  It has a café in the front, and if you order the $6 Continental breakfast in the morning, you will probably find it is enough for 2 people.  The café features Costa Rican coffee, local crafts and world music.  Say hello to a fast, reliable internet connection.  I recommend it all around.


Driving toward Cartago (Click for video. Allow for load time.)

Click here for maps: Orosi Valley, Cartago, Irazu

The next day we went to Irazu, the second most popular volcano in Costa Rica.  I am not as enthralled with volcanoes as my partner Kevin is; I find them to be cold, windy, and death-like.  The crater lake of this volcano, however, was neon glowworm green, and that was rather remarkable.  The unpleasant part was driving through the town of Cartago to get there.  It is quite a small city by American standards, but traffic is dense, and as with most of Costa Rica, there are no street signs.  That obviously makes it hard to know where you are going.  We circled for far too long.  Take a detailed local map if you want to see the volcano.

Back in Orosi, it was raining lightly so we explored by car.  It is a PRETTY area, very peaceful with a gentle misty landscape dotted with small waterfalls.  In the morning when the sun came back, we eagerly hopped on rented mountain bikes.  Bikers flock to this area, for good reason.  There is a great paved loop you can do around the valley.  The path includes a hanging footbridge over rapids.  There are also dirt trails if you have time to explore.  There is a national preserve at the end of the valley where you supposedly can see jaguars, but we did not find any ourselves.

Mission at town center, Orosi