Grecia – The town where young Costa Ricans go to pick up girl. At least that’s what my friend told me. Grecia – the town where all taxis used to be fancy expensive cars. At least that’s what my taxi driver told me. Grecia – the town at the foot of the volcano with the second biggest crater in the world, the Poas. As you see, there are many interesting things to see and explore in and around Grecia.
This is the second part of my series of Posts about the last 6 weeks. The first weekend of April I went to visit my friend Johanna in Grecia. She’s also an AFS volunteer participating in the same program as I. From San José it’s about a 2-hour bus ride, depending on the traffic of course. I arrived on Friday afternoon and she picked me up at the bus station. The first thing we did was having a chat over a smoothie.
A Night out in Grecia
Later that night we went to the concert of her host brother, who plays in a band. They play mostly latin music like Salsa, Cumbia, and Merengue. And of course, the people who came to the concert didn’t only come to listen but also to dance to their music.
“Why is nobody dancing?”
After their concert, we went to the bar next door. Like in many places in Costa Rica that I’ve been before, I was asking myself the same question: “Why is nobody dancing?” This place looked like it was made for people to dance in. There were lights and a DJ putting on music so loud that it was almost impossible to have a conversation. So if you can’t talk, what else is there to do in this bar than dancing. I guess I have to accept that compared to other Latinos, Ticos are not the biggest dancers.
A Trip to the Poas
Getting into the Park as a Local
On Saturday, we left early in the morning to drive up to the Poas Volcano. We were very lucky that Johanna’s host-grandparents took us with them. This way we didn’t have to take the bus with all the tourists which left later and we also didn’t have to pay the 15 Dollars tourist entrance fee. When we drove through the gate of the park, Johanna and I acted like we were sleeping in the back of the car, so we wouldn’t have to talk to anybody, because they’d obviously notice that we were not from here the second we opened our mouth.
When we drove through the gate of the park, Johanna and I acted like we were sleeping in the back of the car, so we wouldn’t have to talk to anybody, because they’d obviously notice that we were not from here the second we opened our mouth. This way we paid the local entrance fee which is about 2 Dollars. Since we are volunteers and living in Costa Rica, we should be able to get the local fee, but that doesn’t always work.
Some Facts about the Poas Volcano
The lake you can see inside the crater is extremely acidic, with a PH lower than 1. Thus the Poas doesn’t just have one of the biggest craters (1500 m diameter, 300 depth) but also one of the most acidic crater lakes.
The Poas is one of Costa Rica’s most visited tourist attraction. We were very lucky to get there early in the morning. Just an hour after we arrived at the crater more and more tourists started streaming into the park and filling up the viewpoint. We really enjoyed the short time of peace before it got crowded.
We were also fortunate to have had such great weather. The last time my friend Johanna was on the Poas, everything was covered in clouds and full of fog. On a clear day, like the day we visited, you’re supposed to see both coasts, the Pacific and the Caribbean one, from the top of the volcano.
The Poas is active again!
Probably the biggest luck we had on our visit to the Poas was, that we were not even two weeks before it closed due to activity, as you can read on The Costa Rica Guide:
On Thursday April 13, 2017 Poás Volcano National Park closed to visitors due to increased and unpredictable volcanic activity. It was originally announced that the closure would last two days but after the most violent eruption yet on Saturday April 22, 2017 the park is off limits indefinitely. Scientists from the volcanology institute at the university of Costa Rica do not have any estimate of when it may be safe to allow visitors to return to the 3km “exclusion zone” around the crater.
Who knows when the volcano will be open to the public again?
On the picture above, Johanna and I are standing in front of the second crater which is also filled with a lake. But other than the one in the main crater, this one is not acidic. So technically you could go swimming in there if you don’t have a problem with cold water. In the past, you were able to walk down to the lake and jump in, told us Johanna’s host-grandfather. But nowadays, this is not possible anymore. You can look at it from the platform, but you can’t get closer than that.
But nowadays, this is not possible anymore. You can look at it from the platform, but you can’t get closer than that. This is another reason why Costa Rica reminds me a lot of the USA: the safety restrictions. Of course, that’s not true for most things in everyday life (e.g. Kinder surprise eggs are not prohibited in Costa Rica like in the USA) but in the national parks, it is. In Switzerland, people are expected to take care of
In Switzerland, people are expected to take care of themselves when they are out in nature. I’m sure there you’d be able to swim in this lake (at your own risk). Taking into account that a big part of Costa Rican’s population can’t swim, maybe it’s not that bad of an idea to close the lake.
Coming back to the entry paragraph, I want to explain in more detail why Grecia is the town where young Costa Ricans go to pick up girl and the town where all taxis used to be fancy expensive cars.
Just like you, I was surprised when my friend told me that he used to go to Grecia to pick up girls. When I asked him why he explained that many men from Grecia had moved to the USA or other countries to work and thus there were more women living in this town than men. Which seems to make it easier to pick up a girl.
Generally, taxis (especially Ubers) are not expensive in Costa Rica, but in Grecia prices for a taxi ride used to be much higher than in the rest of the country. Also, most taxis used to be fancy expensive cars. My taxi driver told me that’s because back in the day Grecia used to be a very wealthy town.
If true or not, Grecia’s a cute little town to visit, especially when you can combine it with a trip to the Poas (if the park opens again).
This is the second part of the post series about my trips and little adventures during the last 6 weeks. So stay tuned for more!