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?
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.
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.
Our first stop is the large town of Grecia.
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.
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.
Cross in Grecia Square
Exterior and Interior of the Metal Church
A recycle bin is a testament to the environmentally conscious Costa Ricans.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
After the demo, we were served a variety of fresh fruits for a snack.
I was hungry enough to try both the bananas and watermelon.
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.
World’s Biggest Oxcart
We also saw the Sarchi Cathedral (below) before starting our trip 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.
Lookout Point – Enis Restaurant
As we neared the port, I managed to get a picture of the Quest docked.
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.
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.
Went to bed at 11:15 PM after a long day of driving and embarking.