Sunday, 16 November 2014

Arriving in Costa Rica

After a gruelling 24hours of travelling, Mum and I eventually landed in  San José, Costa Rica. Absolutely dog tired, we fell into bed, excited about the next morning's adventures.

 I was feeling very lucky- Mum had surprised me with this trip to Costa Rica and we were to tour the country and discover all the different areas from the cloud forests and jungles to the volcanic regions. But first, the capital city!

The next morning, we woke bright and early to glorious sunshine. After a morning relaxing in the pool, we hopped aboard a little mini bus and were driven around to some of the main historical sights in San José. First stop, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph. This beautiful cathedral is a quiet bubble of serenity, shielding you from the chaos and noise of the rest of the city. It's also home to some absolutely stunning stained glass! We wandered around, soaking up the atmosphere before hopping back on the bus.

Our second stop was the National Theatre. This was a beautiful (if surprisingly small) building, linked closely with Costa Rica's coffee trade. The theatre was apparently built when wealthy citizens partitioned the government for a grand theatre. Many of these wealthy citizens were coffee exporters and so the government levied a tax on the exportation of coffee in order to fund the theatre's construction which took over seven years!

Just look how beautiful the inside is!

Just a short walk around the corner from the theatre was the Gold Museum. After clearing security, we were lead underground and through some giant, thick vault doors to where the exhibits were. The exhibition was made up of hundreds of pieces of Pre-Columbian gold, some of which had come from as early as 500AD! Much of this gold was fashioned into tiny figurines and models of animals which apparently was formed in tiny clay casts. The detail on these little models was truly extraordinary, especially when you considered that they'd survived all these years and had been fashioned in such basic way. There were also some beautifully detailed illustrations of Costa Rican wildlife which, upon closer inspection, were also those which decorated the Costa Rican banknotes.

My some of my favourite pieces had to be the little frogs.

Before we knew it, our tour was nearly at an end. We finished in an old hotel which used to be a grand house and had many traditional artefacts still inside. Here, we learned about the history of the ox cart. This was a beautifully painted cart that was often used to transport coffee beans across the country. Originally, each different Costa Rican area had it's own specific design, meaning that you could identify where the driver was from, just by looking at his cart! People took enormous pride in their carts and this is reflected in just how decadently they are painted.

Our tour was a great introduction to the country but also a fantastic way to see a quite intimidating, busy city. Learning a little about the history of the country also stood us in good stead as our trip continued as we were able to link things back to what we'd learned this day.

Again, tired from our day's adventure, we tumbled into bed at the embarrassingly early time of 8pm in prep for our early start the next day to travel to a new part of the country...

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