Here's a picture of volcan Irazu. We visited it not long after I arrived, when it was raining every afternoon. Clouds are creeping in on the left of this picture, making the crater look like it's steaming. The bilious green of the crater lake is caused by algae apparently.
And another picture of the crater, this time without cloud.
Irazu is the volcano closest to San Jose – about 35 kilometres away from the centre of town – an easy afternoon trip for us. We didn't even get lost on our journey! That is, not until we drove back into the city and found ourselves tangled in a maze of back streets in a rainstorm so heavy that we could barely see.
Getting lost is one of the constants of driving in Costa Rica – the roads snarl all over like spaghetti, sign posts are intermittent at best, street names are non-existent, and every town has a plague of No Hay Paso signs blocking the direct routes and forcing cars into the side streets. Fortunately, the countryside and little towns are so fascinating that taking the long way to everywhere is not a problem – we just allow extra time for meandering.
Our efforts last weekend were pretty typical. We were looking for Sarchi, a town full of stores selling handmade wooden furniture, not too far from San Jose. We followed signs and got within about 10 kilometres of the town before the signposts abandoned us. We kept on going, found ourselves on the road to volcan Poas (north when we wanted to go west), stopped in a two house town called Gertrudis Norte (a great name!) and finally retraced our steps to our last unlost point. The signs magically reappeared and we went straight to Sarchi. And see what we found once we got there….