Meeting on the Irazu volcano’s hills
Most of the great moments of our trip are the ones we didn’t plan, the little accidents that actually turned into key moments that we won’t forget. Our meeting with Marlene and David was one of those little accidents. After driving to the top of the Irazu volcano, 3432m high (yes that’s one of the rare volcanoes where you can actually do that and not kill yourself hiking) we went down and decided to leave the main road and go for a dirt road in search of a spot to pitch our tent for the night.
Yes the track was steep and pretty hilly but the landscape was absolutely wonderful with green hills half hidden in the fog and covered with huge leaves, all of this giving you the impression to be somewhere between a tropical jungle and… the Alps. After more than 1h30 of driving a car, that had been following us for quite a long time, stopped us. The woman inside the car looked at us, smiling, before saying amused telling us we were lost. We were not lost. Or were we ? Turned out the reason we were surprisingly alone on this road was it was a dead end, and with very few places to camp. None actually. Except maybe… Yes, our hero couple of the day was offering us to stay at their place! Little miracle happening here, we had a place to sleep!
Marlene and David turned out to be milk producers – as well as some of the sweetest and most welcoming people we have met since we took the road.
They live in what we can describe as a very, very cosy wooden house, stucked somewhere in the 70s, confortably organized around a mexican chimney and alpaga pillows we promised ourselves to find when we will be in Peru. While drinking a hot cup of coffee (we had lost almost 20 degrees compared to San José’s 30 degrees celsius) we then got to know more on our hosts as well as on the milk industry in Costa Rica, one of the rare countries that is autosufficient regarding milk. So we gave it a shot : Any cheese coming out of all this milk ? Nop, or at least nothing to get excited about. Yeah we thought so…
This farm was part of a family story which began with a French ancestor who came to Costa Rica, met a French girl, got married and a few decades later… Marlene was taking over the familly business with Daniel after having lived in the US and Mexico (from where Daniel got half of his origins).
But why sleep in a tent when in it’s raining outside and there is a church availalbe? Built by Daniel for its workers and other people leaving nearby in the mountain, our room for the night is probably the more unexpected place we have slept in until now. And with a view! After installing our cosy nest (mattresses + sleeping bags) we followed Marlene in the barn to assist to the calves feeding…in flip flops.
Let’s just say we brought some of the smell back with us as a souvenir. Anyways we realized what an organisation it is as cows are divided into different groups and fed differently depending on their age and this implies some big logistics. As well as some not always very understanble decisions – For example employees in charge of milking are anxious to do it at 1:00am and 1:00pm (it has to happen every 12 hours) so that they have their afternoon free. Some would rather do it a bit earlier in the evening and have their afternoon AND night free, but why not!
When the sun set and after washing our feet we got back to our church for a good night sleep (very weird sentence). We woke up the next morning with a mindblowing view fog had been hiding the day before followed by a delicious breakfast (more fresh mangos pleaase) with Marlene and Daniel. Marlene told us about the amazing feeling you get when assisting to a volcano eruption as their house is right between the Irazu and the Turrialba volcanoes and the latter has been in activity for a few weeks after decades of a deep sleep. We got jealous, nothing happened while we were here. Volcanoes should really think of being a bit more tourist-friendly. But we got Marlene to imitate the sound a volcano makes when erupting, and this is priceless!
Anyways volcano or not, we had to go and just had time to see the Dos Pinos truck (the leader for dairy products in Central America) coming down the moutain with its tank to get the 6000 liters of milk produced by our hosts in the last 2 days. It took us one hour and lots of concentration and speed to get back on top of the mountain. How this truck does it will remain a mistery for us.