Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A day trip to Atenas - 19/05/2011

Our trip back to San Jose from Monteverde on Monday was generally unremarkable (apart from the gorgeous views as we descended from Monteverde) and around 4 hours later we arrived back on the yellow brick road of Kap's Place. We spent the next couple of days resting, blogging and catching up with Gary on his recent trip to Panama.

We had heard from a number of people that one of the most pleasant areas to live in Costa Rica is a small town called Atenas.  In the 90's this place was brought into the spotlight by National Geographic magazine as having "the best climate in the world" for humans to live, with the balance of temperature and humidity bieng "just right".  At around an hour and a quarter outside San Jose, we decided a local bus ride would be the way to go.  So on Thursday 19th we trundled off to the bus station known as the "Coca-Cola Bus Station", which as the name implies, was built on the site of an old Coke factory. Keeping our eyes peeled for the notorious pickpockets, we soon found our bus to Atenas and hopped aboard.

Hard at work...
The ride took us north-west out of San Jose, on the Pan-American highway that we'd been on a few times already and soon the chaotic city streets gave way to lush green hills.  We turned off to the west and wound our way through picturesque valleys and steep hairpin bends until Atenas announced itself with the "Monument to the Oxcart Driver" just outside the town.  Atenas was originally built on the historic "camino de carretas" (oxcart trail) which was used to transport coffee.

Planning to take over the world....
Stepping off the bus revealed a surprising level of humidity, despite reports to the contrary.  We spent some time walking around the small town, which is built in typical fashion around a central park.  We had the obligatory lunch of beans and rice at a soda overlooking the park, and continued on until we came across an estate agent.  An enlightening chat with Dayana the realtor revealed how expensive properties in the area are - mainly due to the influx of "gringos" from the USA over the years.  Apparently the hills surrounding the town are just high enough to take the edge off the heat and humidity - hence the population of expats.

Out to lunch...
A coffee in another little streetside cafe and soon it was time to catch our return bus to San Jose. Back on the Pan-American highway the traffic quickly became horrendous - a collision between a motorcycle and a Mack truck being the cause. Another sobering reminder of the gung-ho attitude of drivers in Costa Rica.

Hasta luego...

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