Volcán Irazú and Cartago

On Saturday, I embarked on a Saturday day trip to Volcán Irazú (Irazú Volcano) and the nearby city of Cartago with other Sol students.

The day began with taking the public bus to San Jose early in the morning to catch the only bus from San Jose to Volcán Irazú. After frantically searching a street for the bus stop, our group finally discovered where we needed to be and got onto the bus successfully.

After a lengthy and beautiful 1.5 hour bus ride, we arrived to Volcán Irazú. Luckily for us students, the ticket collector awarded us the Costa Rican citizen price for having our student IDs. Instead of tickets costing $15 they were around $2. Receiving a “student discount” in Costa Rica is a hit or miss as I have learned when going to popular attractions.

Immediately after getting off of the bus, Sheri (my roommate) and I set of to see the famous crater and lake without the rest of the group who were taking a pit stop at the bathroom. She and I walked the short distance to the fence that ran along the edge of the crater and were met with a spectacular view. With being short, I stood on the fence to snap some photos. Sheri and I both saw tourists hopping the fence to get individual photos, so we decided to do the same.

Volcán Irazú

After grabbing our photos, we decided to walk along the length of the fence. Once again, I hopped the fence to grab some photos not thinking too much about it because the fence was super far back from the edge. I told Sheri to come over to where I was standing so I could snap her photo because in my opinion, the view was much better.

A much better location than stop one, right?

All of the sudden, a truck pulls up and a park ranger jumps up and shouts at Sheri, myself, and another man (who had also followed us over the fence) in English “GET OUT OF THE PARK. THE SIGNS ARE EXPLICITLY CLEAR DO NOT CLIMB THE FENCE.” Sheri and I, both terrified, quickly got back over the fence. Sheri uttered a “Lo siento” (I’m sorry) and we walked quickly back the way we came.

On our way back, Sheri and I met the rest of our group and informed them all to not jump the fence as we had gotten kicked out of the park. To which they all responded with “WHAT?!”

So, for the next 30 minutes, Sheri and I sat at the gift shop laughing at the situation and debating on whether or not we should try to go back into the park by swapping our clothes. However, due to Sheri having a bright yellow coat on and being born with beautiful red hair that is clearly noticeable in Costa Rica, we decided to remain seated. Besides, both of us had amazing photos.

For me, the ironic part of the whole situation was that I am typically a rule-follower and hardly ever get in trouble. Yet 15 minutes into being at a National Park in another country, I get kicked out. Thank goodness I only paid $2!

A while later, the rest of our group came back and were headed for a short hike they had seen some other tourists take. At the top of the hill, we were met with crazy clouds.

Our group quickly made our way back to the public bus for the journey back to San Jose.

Instead of riding the bus all the way back to the Costa Rican capital, myself and three other girls got of the bus in Cartago to explore for the rest of the afternoon.

Our first stop: a small market in San Rafael. In this quaint town, the four of us girls went to a panaderia (bakery) to grab some lunch/snack.

San Rafael, Costa Rica

After exploring the food market, we began the short walk to Cartago. There, we stopped at the famous church Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles or Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels. Our objective was to go inside the church, but a wedding ceremony was wrapping up.

In the meantime, we went in search of the Santiago Apóstol Parish Ruins. Of course, our group got slightly lost and had to ask for directions. Eventually, we found the ruins and were able to see the beautiful gardens.

At this time, the weather took a turn for the worse and it began to pour. Collectively, our group decided to look for a cafe with WiFi so we could figure out where the bus station to San Jose was located. Audrey, one of the four gals, went into a corner cafe and asked the owner if they had WiFi and promised to purchase food if we could use the internet. At first, he hesitated but then decided to pass along the password to us. He and his wife treated the four of us with the most kind hospitality with water and a delicious dessert sample of what I believe to be was Torta Chilena.

After our snack and having directions, our group made our way back to the church. I snapped some pictures of the inside and then explored the area a bit more while the rest of the group took more time inside the church.

Our group reconvened at 4:00 pm and made the long trek to the bus station. Even though we had gotten directions earlier at the cafe, we still had to stop and ask for directions multiple times. Eventually, our little group found the bus station and made it back to San Jose. From there, we took the bus back to Heredia.

Overall, the day trip was really fun and successful. My one piece of advice: DON’T CLIMB THE FENCE! I cannot say I left a positive impression on the park ranger, but the lesson I learned of breaking the rules left a positive impression on me.

Leave a positive impression,

Sydney xo

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