We decided that today would be an easy, relaxing, vacation kind of a day - no plans, don't do anything major or strenuous or even very active. Just have a relaxing walk around town and see what there is to see. Read. Nap. Play on the computer. Catch up on labelling the photos. Stuff like that.
One of the first things I noticed about the town of Turrialba is that the buildings are almost all in wonderful bright colors. Most of the buildings and homes in the rest of Costa Rica are white, beige, pale yellow - very light neutral colors. In Turrialba, there are wonderful bright contrasting mixes - the yellow building with red trim. A bright goldenrod church. This deep iris colored building, next to the bright aqua green. I love it! I don't know if it's because we're in among the grey-blue hills and often grey sky and low clouds - or if this a traditional thing, and most towns are going "modern" with the neutrals - or if, like the island of Curacao, someone mandated each building be a different color because they owned an interest in the local paint store. No idea why, but the results are wonderful!
The municipal building (Palacio Municipal) has wonderful murals of some indigenous (imagined?) people in the natural environment - really makes this building stand out! Plus I'm always impressed when a community puts public art on or in government buildings - that they used some of the building funds for art. I think it says a lot about a town or government when they choose to support artists and add artwork to their public buildings - it shows that they value feeding people's spirits and souls.
There's a lovely central park, a block square, with a gazebo in the center, and parrots in the trees. This is where everyone meets and hangs out. There are also swing sets, slides, even see-saws for children, so that in the evening there are families around the play area, young people smooching on the unlighted benches, and older people meeting and chatting all around. This is also where we had our picnic on our first night in town.
We walked all around our section of town, including the very small central market, and then the open air produce market by the old train station. (The trains no longer come to Turrialba.) I love looking at all of the fruit and vegs, and trying to figure out what some of the things are. Right now, the lychee fruits are available - they're
round and red and almost furry looking, with long curly spikes. Really weird. We also saw what looks like the world's biggest mango (booo! hiss!) - I swear, the thing was like an acorn squash, it was so huge! But the produce is very colorful and fresh, and looks like a big mosaic of just color!
Mother's Day is coming up in August, and the stores are all advertising items - Feliz Dias de Mama, they all proclaim.
So several department stores have these pre-decorated paper bags, all ready for Mother's Day. They really are fascinating - the flowers are made by curling and gluing ribbon or paper strips in the designs and patterns - I'm not sure if the store buys and sells kits for this, or if they employ people specifically to make these bags, or if they just ask some of their craftsy employees, or what. But they just fascinated me, so I took a lot of photos. Of course, when I'm in a store taking photos of things like decorated gift bags, people walk by and look at me as if I'm a bit crazy. But really, this is one of those things where we don't have these very cool decorated bags, and I want to save the image and the memory - so I take the photos and ignore people (and Richard, who thinks the whole photo-taking thing is crazy anyway).
We found some warning signs in the supermarket - this first sign is kind of like our Code Red security system, except that this is based on the various volcanoes in the country. Turrialba is a green - steam and all, but not in imminent danger of eruption. Arenal is yellow - could erupt again. Then there is one we never heard of that is orange - it is expected to blow up any time now. Code Orange volcano!
The other sign said if you feel any of a number of symptoms, see your doctor right away. We weren't sure if the symptoms were from volcano fumes, or possibly the H1N1 flu - it didn't really say, and our Spanish wasn't that great, and the sign was right under the volcano warning poster. So we're unsure.
We did visit the pasteleria mentioned in our guidebook - there are panedarias (bakeries) and pastelerias (pastry shops) all over, and this particular one specializes in cream-based desserts. So I had a fruit and cream tart. I'm not sure what kind of cream it was, more than a whipped cream - maybe some gelatin or egg white in there. Very yummy! (And I checked, no mango!) That with a cappuccino (which is like our lattes) made for a lovely snack! (Richard had chocolate covered donuts and coffee negro.)
By the end of the day, it started raining. The clouds sort of drifted down the mountains, and settled in the foothills above town. It's a slow and constant rain right now, very Pacific Northwest-ish - although not quite as cold.
Tomorrow we probably head east to the Caribbean coast, where we hope we find the sun again.