Back on the road, we zig-zagged back and forth up the slopes of the mighty Poas Volcano toward the Poas Lodge. We passed by a number of coffee plantations and “tarp” covered strawberry farms along the way. As we made our way up the side of the steep mountain, the GPS kindly warned us of falling rocks and dangerous bridges. It should have also warned us about Costa Rica‘s colossal drainage ditches! If you’re unlucky enough to end up in one of these concrete chasms on the side of almost every road, you’ll definitely need a tow and possible repairs. We came close to that very situation on more than one occasion!
About 45 minutes later, we arrived at the Poas Lodge (not to be confused with the Poas Volcano Lodge). It doesn’t look like much from the road, but as the saying goes, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” The Poas Lodge is a perfect case in point. Behind the humble facade is one of the true hidden treasures in all of Costa Rica.
The humble facade of the Poas Lodge
A coffee cherry and two “beans”
We arrived at Doka Estate Coffee Plantation at about 8:30am. It’s only about a 30 minute drive from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in Alajuela, making it an ideal excursion to either begin or end a vacation. We made reservations in advance via dokaestate.com, although they were probably not necessary. The tour we purchased was $26/person and included breakfast or lunch.
The grounds and buildings at Doka Estate were very clean and well-maintained. The estate consists of an open air restaurant, butterfly garden, bonsai garden, coffeemuseum, gift shop, processing plant, roasting factory, and, of course, a coffee plantation. The employees we had the privilege of meeting were very helpful, courteous, and extremely pleasant (I’ll explain that in a second).
Images of the city of Alajuela, Costa Rica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As Erica and I stepped off of the jetway and onto solid ground, the first wave of nausea subsided. By the time we were shuttled to the rental car company (only five minutes from the terminal), the rumblings in my stomach were long gone and replaced by anticipation, excitement, and anxiety. Day one in Costa Rica was just getting under way.
Categories: Costa Rica 2012, Travel
Tags: abroad, adventure, Alajuela, car rental, central america, Central Valley, costa rica, Costa Rican, excitement, relaxation, rent-a-car, rental car, San Jose, travel, trip, vacation