Athough Elizabeth volunteered for the traditional offering to the volcano (cutting out the heart followed by a double knived evisceration of the lungs to free the spirit), I’d had to disarm my key ring of its pen knife for air travel and the fiery God had to go hungry. A pool of lava had sat for hundreds of years in the low caldera filled with smoke, but in the last decade it retreated down to a red glow at night. The poisonous smoke has killed all the trees in the area and just a few hardy grasses cling to the hillsides. A variety of parrokeet can withstand the gasses and nest in the cliffs to avoid predation by vultures. A warning sign at the edge recommends cars be backed into parking spaces for quick get-away, and advises getting under the car in case of eruption as falling molten debris would punch right through roofs & windshields (of course the super-heated gasses would have already flash-fried your lungs and entire body, but we like to have the illusion of safety).
Granada is the oldest Spanish Colonial city in Meso-America and has seen more than it’s fair share of political/social/martial upheaval. The yellow church is the site of the original Colonial church that was blown up with dynomite by William Walker- a 19th Century political puppet “elected” to the Presidency as a ploy by American business men, Walker then claimed real authortiy and caused a big mess.
The white building is a convent, and holds wonderful pre-Columbian artifacts from the big double-volcano island within the second largest freshwater lake in Central America (it even has freshwater sharks)- Lake Cocibolca. The lake is so huge that Spanish exploiters-er, explorers- mistook it for the ocean, and were shocked when their exhausted horses broke toward the lake and drank from the “sweet sea”.
If you want an illustration of how wonderfully progressive and innovative Costa Rica is, just head for a day-trip through Nicaragua and see what a few centuries of government corruption and decades of civil war will do to people and the land. It is a bruised and neglected country that really needs to follow Costa Rica’s lead and not allow their current “President” to change election laws for himself to run for an illegal third term, disband the military, then follow their neighbor’s lead on public health, education, agriculture and jobs, & infrastructure.
The US Senate might all take a trip to Costa Rica & Nicaragua to see the logical conclusion of thier pet agendas- Democrats with Costa Rica, and Conservatives with Nicaragua (remember when Bush Jr. sent out feelers for a third term? or stated he would only relinquish the Presidency if the terror threat was low enough after goading Iran toward war?).