Sunday, December 31, 2017

Turrialba Farmer’s Market and the Botanical Garden at CATIE

We headed down into Turrialba with Sam and Abraham to go to the weekly farmer’s market, hoping as well to pick up some cash, given that we have been having trouble finding ATM’s that will take our bank card.  We waited in line for a bank ATM; Sam was able to to get cash, but I was not.

Then down to the market; there were perhaps 100 vendors, with plenty of fruits and vegetables to be had; we got enough for the duration  of our stay.

But a fair amount of my time was spent herding Abe around the outside of the market, making sure he did not head into any of the surrounding streets.

Sam and Abe had come in a separate car so that Abe could head home for his lunch and early afternoon nap; Nancy and I, however, headed out of town to visit the Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza  (CATIE), a regional “institute for agricultural development and biological conservation in Central America and the Caribbean”.  It  claims to be the first graduate school in agricultural sciences in Latin America; for us, it was a chance to look at botanical gardens and perhaps learn something about area plants.

Near the entrance, we saw this table laden with fruits from the plants in the garden, some labeled, some not

Generally, the botanical garden had many interesting plants – I was focused on the fruits and flowers — but the labeling was somewhat haphazard, and overall the whole place had something of a run-down feel.

Here are some things we saw for which I could not find any labels: 

a plant with an oddly shaped yellow fruit (that is, each fruit had protuberances rather like a mickey mouse ; the leaves were hairy with spines

There were these plants looking somewhat like that maracas in the garden of our house, but skinnier

This log was trimmed with some delicate looking thin red fungus

I would have liked to have learned the name of this fruit or flower that was as hairy as a rambutan, but much smaller

(I had noted some on the back of the table shown above)

I loved the look of this plant’s thin purple leaves

There were several stands of bamboo.  This small one is shown here with a ficus tree, btu some were so large that they towered overhead

The ficus tree was labeled, as the photo shows.

And there was a kapok tree

at its base was this lovely plant with purple leaves and small flowers

This is a “cannonball tree”

This flower was called a devil’s tongue

And this the “rose of Venezuela

This large flower, the draconium pitteri, gives off a stench resembling carrion, drawing insects to be devoured (note the rose of Venezuela in the rear)

Then Angel’s trumpet
 the Matrimonio

and the penta (also called canastilla), coming in several different colors

On the pavoncillo rojo, note the delicate white flowers within each cluster

rabo de zorro

Here the monstera deliciosa, often seen in the US as a houseplant, is shown with its fruit

We walked past and through stands of torch ginger;

there were so many flowers in different stages of their development that we were able to get a good sense of the cycle

Here is a side and top view of the flower in its early stage

From the top view, we can see the central portion that is starting to emerge here

Here, the central part is entirely out and starting to drop its petals

which, here, are almost all gone

Here is a pink version

After visiting spending ninety minutes walking around CATIE, we headed home past the Maxi Pali supermarket where the ATM readily replenished my supply of cash.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Visit to Cartago

Today Sam and Nafisa had to go to Cartago, the main city in the province, for Soraya’s first pediatrician visit.  Cartago is only 35 kilometers away but, given the quality of the roads, that means an hour’s drive.    They were able to get an appointment in Cartago with an excellent homeopathic pediatrician at 2 PM, later changed to 3 PM.  We left our house just in time for Abe to get his regular afternoon nap, using two cars and driving as caravan all the way to the outskirts of Cartago, where Sam and Nafisa headed of to the doctor;s office while Nancy and I headed downtown.  Our plan was to visit two of the outstanding tourist sites in town: the Basilica of the Virgin of the Angels, which houses a precious statue of a dark-complected Virgin Mary that has been designated as the official patron of Costa Rica; Las Ruinas, as ruin of the 19th century recontruction of a 16th Century church, also located in the downtown area of Cartago; and the Ruins of Ujurrás, the stone remains of the oldest church in Costa Rica, also dating from the 16th Century.  It turned out that this was an overly ambitious agenda given how late we were arriving in Cartago.

We made it to the Basilica, and it was certainly a mustn’t miss.  Lovely from the outside

especially seen against the background of the surrounding mountains

it was particularly lovely inside.  The columns were painted with a consistent pattern, as were the wooden walls

although there was extra painted detail on some walls

and some parts of the ceiling

Most of the statuary portrayed white people

making these two statues, one small and below eye-level

and one lifesize on a pedestal

stand out

As best as I could tell, the relic statue is kept in this structure behind the altar

This Pastoral scene could be found in one of the semitransepts

By the time we were done looking at the basilica, it was approaching 4 PM, and we figured we should skip the ruin in downtown, which was after all the ruin of a more recent reconstruction, and make a beeline for Ujurrás where, according to all reports, the ruins would be closing at 4:30 PM.  Unfortunately, as we arrived, families were coming out of the site, and the uniquitous parking jockey waved us away, telling is that closing time had been 4 PM.  We should have tried Las Ruinas in Cartago!
But driving toward Ujurrás put us on a different route back home than we had taken coming to Cartago – instead of going the “back way” over the mountains, we drove through the some dramatic countryside,

including extensive plantings of chayote

As we approached Turrialba, with dusk was getting nigh, we saw this nice rainbow