I had been to Cartago in the Orosi valley before, but not like this. This time I was the invited guest of some very lovely Facebook friends (hi, Nancy, Steve, Mike, Lopita, Roy, Charlie and Michele) so that I could get a real feel of the valley and its gardens.
My first visit was to Lankester Botanical Garden just outside Cartago about 35 kilometers from San Jose. But don’t let 35 kilometers fool you. Metric Man hates to drive in traffic. There was traffic. It took 90 minutes to drive those kilometers, some of it white-knuckled, but, on the drive back after several hours in the gardens, Metric Man admitted that it was worth every minute. Wow. For him, that was an amazing admission.
But I had left Metric Man far behind. He was not exactly enthusiastic about a five-day trip with “nothing to do” except look at gardens and talk to gardeners, and I was not exactly enthusiastic about listening to him complain about “nothing to do” for five days.
Nancy and Steve were marvelous hosts. Although they are orchid fanciers, almost nothing was in bloom! Instead I spent a wonderful time wandering through their 4.5 hectares seeing their other plantings, especially the heliconia. This was a real treat for me, as I have some heliconia and know little about them. Nancy, though, knows them all by name and gave me some excellent tips on cultivation. As soon as I got home, I started cleaning them out by removing dead leaves and cleaning up the centers a bit. I was a bit more careful than Nancy though, because she doesn’t have a lot of snakes up there in Orosi while we find them weekly.
Nancy also acted as tour guide to other homes and gardens around the area. There was wonderful weather for touring as Orosi gets a lot less rain than we get up near the lake – meters less – and less humidity. Yet everything was lush and rich and there were streams everywhere. I was jealous. Yup, jealous. Perfect weather for sleeping, perfect weather for gardening, bright blue skies, no watching out for snakes . . . people should tour Orosi before they decide where to buy a home.
But enough of that. Nancy has set her plantings close to her paths so that you feel as if you are wandering through a jungle setting. The paths meander downhill and over dry streams that she promised were running streams when the rains came. But there were no rains for me, just beautiful settings, wandering paths, and a gracious hostess.
I need to go back.