One of my professors from study abroad, we just called him Milton, once mentioned this awesome place called Sarchi. He told me of a place where traditionally painted ox carts packed the roads and where you could really experience traditional Costa Rican coffee culture.

His description of this place sounded like something Disneyland would want to replicate and something I needed to see. 

But I didn't. I totally missed it when I was living in San Jose. 

So with day trips becoming plan A for the last part of our trip, I convinced Andrea that this would be a good idea. 

I'm gonna burst everyone's excited bubble quickly: Sarchi was not that exciting. Did I see a few cool ox carts? Yes. But is Sarchi really a destination worthy of a full day? I'd say no. 

I foolishly expected something straight out of Disneyland and was unimpressed when I didn't get it.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, as usual. Our previous attempt to visit Volcan Poas being unsuccessful, we decided to try again before driving out to Sarchi. This time, we started our trip up the mountain much earlier since I'd read that the morning tends to yield the best chance of a view.

There were a few clouds in the sky, but nothing too daunting. Of course, until we reached the gate. The sun and fluffy white puffs gave way to cold, overcast, misty skies. The same gentleman from the day before warned us that the volcano wasn't visible, so he didn't recommend we use our money to see nothing. By this point, we were already determined to make the hike out to the crater viewing point, so we paid our foreigner entrance fees (even though he totally thought we were nationals) and entered the park.

The hike looked like something out of Into the Woods or Sleeping Beauty. I felt like I was going to encounter an evil dragon around one of the bends, but we only passed up a woman prancing through the mist in high heeled sneakers.

The concerned park ranger was right. The volcano's iconic crater was nowhere to been seen. The fog was thick and revealed nothing. Regardless, we snapped a tourist photo before heading off on our way to Sarchi.

After driving through many more residential streets than I'd mentally prepared myself for, we finally found ourselves near the town square. True to my professor Milton's lore, in the center of the plaza, right in front of the church, was the world's largest ox cart. We walked around it and mildly judged a dozen or so tourist teenagers who were posing for an instagram photo.

The cart is fenced in so you can't really go up to it and see the insane hand painted details, which is a bit of a bummer. So we wandered around the plaza and stared at the church's pretty intricacies. Andrea picked up some pansito (just a cutesy way of saying bread in Spanish) from a bakery across the street for us to enjoy after lunch.

We made a joke that when lost (in Costa Rica), always orient yourself by where the church is.

We'd passed by a big souvenir market on our way into the center of town. It seemed like the best place to ask where we could get a piece of the Sarchi experience. I ended up just asking where I could find some decent food since it was nearing lunch time and we were getting hungry. It turned out that there was a restaurant right behind the souvenir shop called Restaurante La Finca. I drove down a steep hill and parked in a patch of grass near a butterfly garden that we had no intention of visiting, even if we did have time to kill (see previous butterfly-induced fright here). We walked up, and even though we were the only patrons in the middle of the day, we sat down because there was free wifi. Luckily, the food was delectable, the portions were large, and the strawberry lemonade was yummy.

We scarfed our food until we couldn't scarf anymore.

Growing up, my parents routinely, almost obsessively, had coffee after every meal. In fact, the eating time isn't over until everyone who drinks coffee has a mug of it in their hand. They do this to this day. Whenever Brandon and I have lunch or dinner at my parents' house, I'm guaranteed to be offered coffee within five minutes of finishing the food on my plate.

La Finca was no different. Our server came by and offered me some coffee, which I happily accepted. He disappeared for a moment and returned with an old school pour over system. You know, the kind that use cloth as a filter instead of paper? It was so cool...I'm totally kicking myself six months later for not taking a picture of it. But geez if that coffee wasn't delicious. I sat there, sipped my coffee, and soaked in the moment with my sister.

On our way back to the main highway, I made an impulse decision to stop at a furniture store with an ornate front. It ended up paying off because we got to see some real life antique ox cart wheels!

We also got to witness an artisan hand paint a tray.

I asked for his name before we left and I told myself to remember it, but I wouldn't be able to tell you what letter his name started with. I don't actually think we were supposed to be walking around watching them, but no one said anything to us, so we watched intently as this interesting mute man gestured to me as if he was teaching me how to paint traditional designs.

In a nutshell, if you want to experience coffee culture, take a tour of a plantation. But if you do find yourself in Sarchi, visit Restaurante La Finca, you won't be disappointed.

No comments:

Post a Comment