Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 – Caldera, Costa Rica – Partly Cloudy – 90F

Distance from Puntarenas to Caldera, Costa Rica: 7.6 Nautical Miles

Total Trip: 2,664.6 Nautical Miles

Embarkation Day – Cruise 2 – Caldera to Miami


A warm and muggy day in the commercial port of Caldera, Costa Rica…

Our first time in this port.

Local Information.  Not much to say except that on our journey through the villages and towns of Costa Rica, every other business or so was a car repair shop or auto parts store.  What is that all about?

 20140304_Caldera from 4016 (Small)

Caldera from Cabin 4016

We are both on tour today for back to back passengers, who want to be off ship during the embarkation process for new folks.  I am on “Picturesque Sarchi, Oxcart Factory, and Metal Church” and Ellen is on an Eco-Boat Tour. 

My guide is Carlos, knowledgeable and clear.

Our itinerary consists of an one hour and 45 minute bus ride to the town of Grecia to visit the unusual Metal Church -  Our Lady of Mercy – and then to go to Sarchi to see how ornamental Oxcarts and made and painted.  Our trip will once again take us to the bumpy Pam American Highway.  This time, the ride will be different as there are only eight passengers in a van – lots of legroom for everyone.

20140304_on the Pan Am highway (Small)

On Our Way on the Pan Am Highway

We passed a little town called Gareta, where, according to Carlos, a large community of Ex-Pats live.  This vicinity has the best microclimate – heat and humidity – in the area, making it desirable.

20140304_Gareta home for expats (Small)


Our first stop is the large town of Grecia. 

20140304_on the road to Grecia (Small)

On the Road to Grecia

Grecia gets its name from the fact that this place was first settled by Greeks.  We stopped by the Main Square, which is across the street from the “Metal Church”.  This church is covered with metal plates, which is an unusual building material – the plates were shipped here from Belgium.  I couldn’t get much else from the explanation.

20140304_Grecia main square (Small)

Fountain – Main Square Grecia

Lying on the ground in the Square is a large wooden cross, which, most likely, will be used in an upcoming Easter program.

20140304_ Grecia main square cross (Small)

Cross in Grecia Square

 20140304_ Grecia Metal Church (Small)

20140304_Metal Church (Small)

20140304_ Grecia Metal Church interior (Small)

Exterior and Interior of the Metal Church

A recycle bin is a testament to the environmentally conscious Costa Ricans.

20140304_Grecia recycling (Small)  20140304_ Grecia main square (Small)

20140304_ Grecia main square 1-1 (Small) 20140304_ Grecia main square 2-1 (Small)

Metal Church and Main Square – Grecia

Grecia seems to have all of the amenities of a typical town including a Burger King across the street from the Main Square.

20140304_Burger King Grecia (Small) 20140304_beautiful downtown Grecia 1 (Small)

Beautiful Downtown Grecia and Burger King

Just a few minutes from Grecia is the small town of Sarchi.  Sarchi is known for its unique painted decorations which are found on buildings, bus stops, etc. around town.  These designs reflect those on the ornamental – hand painted – oxcarts used to haul farm goods.  These are still in use and are built by Eloy Alfaro Oxcart Company. 

20140304_Eloy Alfaro Oxcart factory (Small)

The woman in the picture above gave us a tour of the factory explaining the evolution of the oxcart wheel from a large solid wooden structure to one made from pie-shaped spokes and rims.  Once built, they are hand-painted (see wheel below)

20140304_Oxcart wheel (Small)

The entire plant runs on water power – a water wheel turns other wheels via belts supplying power to saws and other tools.  We saw it in action.

20140304_water power for the factory (Small)

Waterwheel Power generator

The Oxcarts – as mentioned - are painted by hand – a group of four painters were on hand to demo their work.  Two are shown below working on the same section of cart.

20140304_Oxcart artists working (Small)

After the demo, we were served a variety of fresh fruits for a snack. 

20140304_snacks at Eloy (Small)

Snack Time

I was hungry enough to try both the bananas and watermelon.

20140304_trying banana at Eloy Alfaro (Small)  20140304_trying watermelon Eloy (Small)

After some shopping time at the Factory’s extensive gift shop, we headed for the main square to see the “World’s Largest Oxcart”.  This one is too big to be pulled by oxen – a truck is used.  I imagine it is a parade highlight.  The oxcart is kept behind an iron fence although I imagine it would be hard to steal and even harder to hide.

 20140304_Sarchis super oxcart (Small) 20140304_the big oxcart (Small)

World’s Biggest Oxcart

We also saw the Sarchi Cathedral (below) before starting our trip home.

20140304_Sarchi Cathedral (Small)

Sarchi Cathedral

20140304_heading home (Small)

Heading Home

Carlos tried in vain to find some coffee beans – they had all been picked – along the fringes of coffee fields next to the road.  Instead, he took us to a lookout point in the back of a restaurant.

20140304_enis restaurant lookiut (Small)

Lookout Point – Enis Restaurant

As we neared the port, I managed to get a picture of the Quest docked.

20140304_ Quest docked Caldera 1-1 (Small) 

Once in the port, we noticed a series of parking lots filled with cars, all with flat tires (some with plants growing under the hoods).  Some cars were late model – Carlos thought they might be abandoned because their owners could not pay the tax on the cars.  Certainly, someone can figure out how to get these cars off the pier and into the hands of some drivers who need them.  Very strange.

20140304_car graveyard (Small) 

Sargasso Sea of Cars – Caldera Port

We listed to two of Max DiFaz’s sets and then attended the Welcome Aboard Show, during which Bruce Parker once again performed.  He is due to put on a full show later in the cruise.  Russ also indicated that Naturalist, Nigel Marven would be on board on this cruise filming segments for a series on Animal Planet.  He will also be giving some presentations.

20140304_Welcome Aboard Bruce Parker-1 (Small)

Went to bed at 11:15 PM after a long day of driving and embarking.

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