Each day we recommended tours and routes around the area of San Gerardo de Rivas but hadn’t done most of our own recommendations until our 2nd week in. With two days off we decided to start off with the town tour. Going up 500 meters on the Chirripo trail we took the option of descending and detouring towards Sendero (trail) Los Angeles. This beautiful downhill trek was a gentle walk compared to the other option at the fork, ascending up the Chirripo trail. After an hour or so we made our way to the small town of Los Angeles (population 100) and visited the local art gallery, Arte Mia. The owner Carmen greeted us and were also welcomed by a feisty little dog. We walked passed her home, a swing set with a hammock hanging across, a pond full of large goldfish, and a bird cage containing a large red parrot before entering her art gallery.
Carmen left us with two children as we looked around her artwork depicting scenes of local mountain pueblo life in Costa Rica and displaying rich colorful animals and birds of the region. Having been hosted and having a great work exchange experience, Camille and I were looked for a nice little gift for the owners. After choosing two gifts and explaining our desire to give presents to our “hosts,” she ended up refusing to take our money for them and said that it could be a gift from all of us. For the past couple of weeks I would call her place of business to make sure she was open for guests to come in. She was so grateful for us sending her clients and wanted to show her appreciation. A few more minutes of chatting in front of the fish pond and bird cage we left the little town of Los Angeles for the neighboring Canaan.
After crossing a few bridges and seeing several waterholes our first stop in Canaan was a locally run cheese business. The family that started the cheese business were trained by a gentleman from Switzerland who found that the conditions of the environment were great for producing a specific type of Swiss cheese. The cheese business was started and years later still stands. The 12 cows produce more than enough to sell each day and often times too much. We sampled a mozzarella that had just been prepared an hour prior to our arrival. Additionally we tried the Swiss cheese and a cheese mixed with herbs. We ended up buying 3 small blocks and handed Cathy, our “tour guide,” the equivalent of $10. After thanking her we went down a few houses over and popped into the local chocolate shop. Because we knew the prices of the chocolate were outrageous we told the lady we didn’t have much money as we spent most of it in the cheese place. We ended up grabbing a chocolate ball full of various nuts and a coin-shaped mint chocolate on a stick for $6! They weren’t huge but we felt like we should treat ourselves on our weekend off. Since we hadn’t spent any money for 2 weeks weren’t too stressed about it.
Our next stop was the Secret Gardens. We didn’t have reservations and came in way after lunch time but were stuffed from cheese and chocolate. We were unable to get lunch at the Secret Gardens but will be sure to call in next time. The grounds were beautiful and there’s a map set-up for a kilometer long walk through them. We’ve heard a mix regarding whether or not this is paid but have heard from many guests that it was beautiful.
Continuing even further up a steep road we ended up at Aguas Thermales (Thermal Waters), hot warm springs. We met a Canadian couple and an American girl on a bridge and all walked together. To get to the springs we took a short cut through a forest with yet another wonderful waterfall in sight. We paid the 3500 colones ($7) but our new friends were surprised by the entrance fee and we were left at alone at the pools. Spending an hour or so was a good way to rest the legs before heading down into town for the final stretch of our hike. We stopped by Roca Dura for some pizza and an hour were back “home” at Casa Mariposa.