Ecomuseo, Gold Mining Artifacts, a Roll in the Mud, and a Birthday Celebration – Emma Lewis

Rainy hike at the Ecomuseo

On Tuesday afternoon, we had planned to visit the Ecomuseo in Las Juntas that some of our group had worked on their service projects. However, a wicked storm was abrewin’ so Ricardo made the hike optional and those who wished to rest for the afternoon stayed home while the more adventurous of the bunch went on the hike.

At the Ecomuseo, we reunited with our main man Victor Hugo who runs the mining/ecology museum.  We spent some time looking at the artifacts on display from the time from the days of industrial gold mining (1880s to 1930s). We saw the bottles that contained the mercury that was used in the extraction process and metal clamps that were used to carry hot crucibles. The hiking group also got to meet the super cute spiders that the service group had to deal with each day they worked at the Ecomuseo and the bats that occupied the bathrooms.
We began our hike in the outdoor area around the Ecomuseo where we saw some of the old machinery that was manufactured in the United States and transported to Costa Rica to be used by the mining company. As we hiked up the mountain path, Victor Hugo and Ricardo continued to explain what the mining process entailed and pointed out where certain structures were located such as the train track or the excavation sites. The view from the 7-story facility was awesome.
Highlights of the trip include exploring one of the mine tunnels that remains open and hearing the howler monkeys respond to Ricardo’s calls. Unfortunately, they were on the other side of the valley so we didn’t see them. Descending the slippery trail down the mountain proved to be a bigger challenge compared to the steep trail we climbed up. A few of us took a spill but we made it down unscathed for the most part!
May 30 is Ricardo’s birthday so we had to celebrate! Ricardo’s favorite food is tamales so they were made special for us, and two cakes were provided by his good friends. It was a fun night! Tomorrow we are off to explore Rincon de la Vieja National Park – an active Volcanic site.
Professor Rich Niesenbaum (Don Ricardo) celebrates his birthday with Carlos & Eliette and students, friends by enjoying cake and tamales in Las Juntas Costa Rica.