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Costa Rica - Turrialba - Guayabo National Monument

Cooler weather on the way to the Carribean coast

rain 20 °C
View Costa Rica 08 - 09 on WebWeaver's travel map.

The bus took us through the plain bright city of Cartago and then snaked its' way down the mountain roads to the agricultural center of the eastern section of Costa Rica dropping us in the cheerful town of Turriabla.

TURRRIALBA..ark_JPG.jpgAs in all the towns and cities there is a central park with huge and looming trees protecting us not from the usual hot sun but from the light misty rain that has fallen since we arrived. These European travellers were taking advantage of the wifi available in the central park to send video via their laptops. How neat is that?

Taking advantage of the ability to get around with the oppressive presence of humid air we went straight away to the Agricultural research station which has since the 1940s' been collecting valuable and important species of coffee and fruit trees. The well designed brochure, delivered by an armed park atttendant (everyone in uniform has a gun) on his motorcycle, guided us through this amazing collection of trees and plants.

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Hundreds of different sized coffee trees with baseball size to pea sized beans.

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These colourful flowers are mostly extensions of the leaf and are designed to give protection and nutrients to the bloom inside.

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These huge clusters of bamboo palms are relatives to the peach palm, a valued fruit in central america.

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http://www.turrialbahotel.com/ - Turrialba Hotel

As we relax in the comfortable and spacious communal areas of our B&B (Hot Tub, Pool Table, Hammocks) we know that the rain in the week ahead may hamper our Snorkling but will go along way to modify the intense heat of the Caribbean.

The modest Pueblo of Turrialba has created the most interest in terms of finding a place to anchor for a while.

Our original intention to travel to Costa Rica was to find place that could serve as winter home for a month or 2 from which we would work as well as tour. The access to shopping facilities, internet, reasonable accomodation and proximity to the natural wonder of this country, to say nothing of the hospitality and warmth of the residents, is reason to think about spending more time here in the future.

The following has been taken from http://www.infocostarica.com/places/Guayabo_wc.html and serves as the best description of this National Park. The very knowledgeable guide we had made it clear to us that there is very little federal money to promote or continue excavations at the Guyabo National Monument

Guyabo National Monument

Guayabo National Monument was created in 1973 to conserve the largest archeological site in the country. The protected area consists of 540 acres at 3,600 feet (1,100 meters) above sea level on the slopes of Turrialba Volcano, 12 miles (19 km) from the city of Turrialba.

Since 1968 an estimated 10 percent (5 acres) of the total area has been excavated by the University of Costa Rica. And although archaeologists are still unclear about the significance of the site, excavations have revealed a number of cobbled roads, stone aqueducts, mounds, petroglyphs, tombs and sculptures that belonged to a pre-Columbian city, which was inhabited between 1000 B.C. and 1400 A.D.

As you enter the site, you will notice a road that passes between two rectangular stone structures, the road then winds around the largest mound and on to a rectangular water tank fed by a network of covered and uncovered aqueducts. The huge amounts of stone and slabs necessary to build causeways several kilometers long, as well as channels and other basic structures, suggest a highly developed knowledge of civil engineering and urban planning together with a large work force that was kept busy over a long period of time. Since the American Indians did not use the wheel, many of their streets are equipped with stairs to overcome inclined grades. Construction techniques reflect both South American and Mesoamerican influences, and evidence uncovered in archeological digs reveals their main sustenance crop was maize (corn).

Who built this lost city? Why did its inhabitants disappear just before the Spanish landed and colonized the area around what is now Puerto Limón on the Caribbean coast? Speculation suggests disease or starvation, maybe even war.

In addition to the archaeological site, Guayabo protects the only remaining primary forest in the province of Cartago, accounting for 22 percent of the park’s 538 acres. Many birds can be seen, especially in the mornings. These include the oropendulas that build sacklike nests high in the trees above the monument, toucans and loriots.

The site is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and guided tours are available (only in Spanish). The offices are located 50 m in front of the park entrance. At the Monument there is an archaeological research station, an exhibition room and a viewing point from which the whole archaeological area can be observed.

Our Trip to Guayabo

GUYABObusride.jpg An hour or so
from Turrialba way up the mountainside and into the very wet entrance way we met our guide for the afternoon who very bravely used all her English language resources to present an indigenous history which connects the Talamanca Indians of the province of Limon with the original inhabitants of Guayabo.

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We were fortunate to have a guide as there are rarely more than 2 park wardens on site at any one time. We made a mutual pact to speak each others language in the name of practice. I knew I had still some work to do on my Spanish when our are very gracious guide, having difficulty understanding my question, asked me to please repeat in English!
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From the highest elevation of the site the viaducts for water were constructed and were fed to the thatched homes below and to the agriculture fields to the left (not excavated). It was believed that this very productive area was a valued commodity used for trade and barter with other tribes in the valley below, where the town of Turrialbla stands today.

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Tombs for the placement of the dead on their journey to the after life. When the bodies had completely decomposed the bones were taken to a permanent burial site closer to the village.

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The foundation indicating the placement of the Kings house was evidently indended to impress anyone entering the Guayabo settlement. The heavily regaled King in his doorway was a signal to the visitors that this fellah was the big pineapple here and there would be no doubt about who was in charge. The visual placement of the house directly below the plume of fire which burst from Volcan Turrialba from time to time added drama to the Kings countenance and the impact was not lost on any visitors.

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A display diorama depicts the position of the buildings and the construction used above the ground for the recently unearthed settlement. This is the only pre-columbian settlement found in Costa Rica.

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Wear rain gear or carry a big leaf.

Posted by WebWeaver 07:34 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged living_abroad

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