We decided to drive back to San Jose so we could see more of the country.  It is a fairly easy drive -- paved, two-lane roads the whole way.  It is about a four hour drive, although we took longer since we stopped for lunch and hit a bit of fog as we entered the mountains.  Next time (and there will be a next time), we will just pick up a car in San Jose and drive from there -- but both ends of the trip will involve the Melia Cariari hotel again.  It was a wonderful place to stay -- the setting and facilities are great, and their people are even better!

<  Back at the Melia Cariari in San Jose.  There must have been some kind of mixup in our reservations -- we got the "Honeymoon Suite."  Puzzling, huh?
The next day we went to Sarchi, which is "home" to the symbolic Costa Rican ox cart>
< The ox cart is the historical working vehicle of rural Costa Rica.  This is a real one. 

They decorate them beautifully, and make small replicas for various uses.     >

<  One of the small shops where they make the replica carts.  >
<  Sarchi is a gathering place for artists and artisans.  Almost everything is decorated with beautiful colors -- bridges, lamposts, benches . .. 
Note the colorful painting on this church.   >
<  A replica of the cart (carreta), the oxen (dos bueyos) and the driver (boyero).    This is Dot and Alex (more below) in one of Sarchi's workshops. >

The trip to Sarchi took most of the day and was a delight.  Our driver and guide, Alex, became our friend and my Spanish teacher along the way.  Between us, we almost wore out the pages of my Spanish/English dictionary.  

<  Alex also took us to San Jose the next day for touring and more shopping.  This is the National Theater of Costa Rica. 

          The plaza in Central San Jose.  >

<  A busy market street in central downtown.  It was lunchtime, so lots of people were out.  We also toured the Museo de Oro (Museum of Gold), but no cameras were allowed there.  Too bad, because it was fascinating.
Some of the native wildlife we found when we returned home >

It was truly a wonderful trip -- one which we will remember warmly for a long time -- or maybe even longer.

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