Fascinating, mighty, scary things, volcanoes. I recently went to the top of the Poas volcano in Costa Rica. It’s no longer active so it’s possible to view the crater – a huge icy blue pool in rocky surroundings.
It’s quite a long trek up to the top, on made pathways, with vegetation and interesting plants along the way. Many of the trees have bromeliads growing on their trunks. Progress was slow because of the altitude – it seemed quite a long ascent.
Once at the top, there are plenty of viewing platforms to choose from, and there was little cloud, with good views of the crater. I could only stay near it for a short while as the sulphurous smell edged its way into my head and made me feel slightly nauseaous. There are notices advising visitors to limit their viewing time to 20 minutes because of the effects of breathing in the sulphur-laden air. Looking down at the crater I realised I had a view of somewhere that leads to the Earth’s core. That had a humbling effect.
A few days later, I stayed in the rain forest area close to the Arenal volcano. It’s a big pointy-topped volcano and it dominates the area and offers striking views in all weathers. It emerges from the clouds on overcast days, and its grassy slopes gleam in the sunshine on clear days. I’d read somewhere that it could erupt at any time, but I never felt threatened by this; I think I was lulled into feeling comfortable about its presence by the beauty of the tropical flora and fauna which filled the surrounding area. Yet, driving out of the capital San Jose, a few days earlier, I’d seen smoke arising from two of the active volanoes in the near distance. The guide said this often happens; for me it was a first seeing a smoking volcano. Another “first” and exciting too.