Today was spent touring the area around Cartago, Costa Rica, which is about 45 minutes outside of San Jose. There were 4 other delightful women on this half day tour, 3 were old friends from Austrailia who had since relocated to Toronto and NYC and the 4th was a woman from Brazil in San Jose for a seminar.
Cartago was the original capital of Costa Rica and has survived major destruction by 4 earthquakes. Our first stop were the Ruins of St. Bartholomew Temple church, Cartago, Costa Rica. This church was originally dedicated in 1575 but destroyed the same year by an earthquake. It was rebuilt and again destroyed in the early 1900’s. Local legend claims it was destroyed as punishment for the actions of an amorous priest. Yikes!
Another lovely church in Cartago was the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles, or Basilica of Our Lady of Angels. This beautiful church has suffered damage from earthquakes but never a total loss. It has stood since the mid 1600’s. We were lucky enough to be there when a wedding party was being photographed, if you look closely on the left, you’ll see the bride outside on the steps.
There’s a wonderful story about a little girl who found a statue on a rock of the Virgin Mary carrying the baby Jesus, so she took it home. The next morning, the statue was gone. She went back to find it back on the rock, so she took it to a priest who locked it in a small box. The next day it was found on the rock again. When the Basilica was being constructed it was destroyed by earthquakes many times, till finally, it was decided it was to be built on the site of the rock where the statue was found. Many believers see the statue as a sign that the Lady of Los Angeles wanted the church built on that site. It is now the longest standing church in Costa Rica. The church is also the site of a massive pilgrimage in August, where millions of Costa Ricans will flock to the church to pay homage. Some will actually crawl on their hands and knees for 22 kilometers as a demonstration of their devotion.
Our last stop before lunch was a visit to the Lankester Botanical Gardens, where we walked on paths thru beautiful flora and fauna and a massive orchid exhibit. The national Flower of Costa Rica is an Orchid, specifically this one, known locally as the ‘guaria morada.’ Beautiful, isn’t it?
Lunch was at a lovely restaurant overlooking the Cachi Valley, dessert was Costa Rica Coffee served traditionally, where it drips at the table and a fabulous coffee flan! Oh my, I am so glad I logged 1300 steps today!
I was back at the hotel in time to walk to a wonderful Lebanese restaurant for dinner, Lubnan, it’s not far from the Hotel Cacts, on Paseo Colón , almost across from the Scotia bank (for those who plan on being here). The food was fantastic and the owner and staff were so pleasant. The decor was beautiful too! After dinner, I took a quick detour to shop at the market across from Lubnan’s to grab some souvenirs, have to bring coffee home!
Tomorrow, I’ll post some helpful hints, need to know stuff that can make your trip a little easier! It’ll give me something to do while waiting at the airport!