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Poas Volcano vs. Reading Rainbow

Waiting for the fog to clear at Poas Volcano
Waiting patiently for the fog to lift just enough to see a quick glimpse of Volcan Poas.

Volcan Poas. What can I say? It is a major tourist attraction in Costa Rica. It’s near where we live. We had to go. Maybe I sound like a poopey-butt, but I didn’t want to go. The day before we returned from Manuel Antonio National Park and frankly, we were tired and all of us kind of wanted to stay home.

But, we had rented a car and it was just too easy to go see Volcan Poas. We felt guilty staying home what with it sitting there only about an hour away.

I had read the night before about how volcanologists are concerned that Poas or Irazu Volcano might blow after the big 7.9 earthquake here in Costa Rica. This intensified the feelings of guilt. What if Poas Volcano blew up and we had failed to go see it? It would be a great tragedy and the fear of regret was enough to motivate us to get going as early as possible that morning even though we were all more in the mood for a day at home and a good book.

Poas Volcano was the second volcano I’ve ever seen in my life. It was very different from Arenal Volcano, at least in terms of aesthetics. We walked to the top of Poas and then looked down into it. In contrast, Arenal was easy to see from a distance. It stood out in the landscape as a giant cone, unmistakable as a volcano. Poas, in contrast, could be mistaken for an average lake from a distance. The thing that gives it away is the smell of sulfur and little plumes of toxic steam rising out of its caldera.

It was, of course, very cloudy when we visited the volcano, but we waited patiently under our umbrellas. The fog enveloping our view was somehow different than the fog I’m used to encountering in the states. It was really life like, flitting down or up the side of cliffs. It was almost “dry” and rather than thinning out, it moved around in tufts. A thick cloud of it would descend over a small area and then move around as a unit. This entertained us for a short period of time while we waited. Occasionally it would start to rain.

Then, the clouds above thinned a bit and the sunlight got brighter. A hush fell over the group of people that had gathered at the cliff to see the volcano. One minute passed. Two minutes. Then five minutes. Still, the view of the volcano was obstructed.

“How long do we wait before we call it a day?” I said to Lydian.

“I don’t know…5 minutes?”  She said.

I looked at my cell phone to get the time. And then, suddenly, the clouds cleared just enough to see the giant crater below. In a way, the

Poas Volcano crater in Costa Rica
This photo does not in anyway capture the view that we actually had of the crater. You’ll have to just look into the fog in this picture and imagine how the crater looks as we had to for 30 minutes before the fog cleared.

anticipation of wondering what the crater looked like added to the moment. I had been casting my own ideas what the crater would look like out into the white foggy oblivion and it was surprising to see what it was really like. Though I can’t say I was entirely pessimistic that we about gettin to see Poas, I had reason to believe that the odds were slim. On a big trip we had taken three years ago up through central Canada and then  around and down through the Pacific Northwest, we had taken a day to go see Mount St. Helen’s. It was quite a trip to get to the volcano and though we hung out for quite some time very near the crater, the fog never lifted.

But every volcano is different apparently. Poas was moderately entertaining as far as volcanoes go and I’m glad that we went. I mean, I can cross it off the list of things to do and stop feeling guilty for having made the effort to see it yet.

Honestly, though, I’m definitely weary of the tourist gig right now. I’m ready to do the Reading Rainbow thing again for a few days (I…can…go…ANYWHERE!…Take a look… It’s in a book. Etc.).  After moving to our new house five days ago, I think I’m just capped. My brain is full of new information and I honestly don’t know if I can take in anymore until I download some of my data. I feel like I should issue an apology for rating Poas Volcano lower than Yoga class, but to each his (or her) own. I liked the trees, the fog, and the thickly forested paths at the volcano, but alas, it is still just a tourist attraction, albeit one that is likely to make the news again someday soon.

Read Lydian’s experience of Volcan Poas here.

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