The latest round of activity from our newly awakened volcano Turrialba, the second-highest in Costa Rica, has also brought in its wake some changes in the village of San Antonio. Here, on the south-east side of the ‘coloso‘, we have not, so far, been directly affected by falling ash. Some village residents can no longer farm properties they hold near La Central, the village nearest the summit, which was recently evacuated, but otherwise most people remain confident that ‘no va a pasar nada aquí ‘.
Secondary effects are more substantial, however. For starters, the Volcán Turrialba Lodge, located at La Central, which is (was) the best-known tourist accommodation in the area, was closed by the authorities after the first ash expulsions and then strangely burned down with no loss of life. No, the volcano was not to blame. Another fine little hotel, located next door to us here in San Antonio, has now been converted into the headquarters for the National Park guards, who can no longer stay further up the hill because of the sulphur fumes.
Next, the promises of a paved, or at least improved, road from Santa Cruz to San Rafael, passing through San Antonio and right by the new Park headquarters, have suddenly seemed likely to be fulfilled. Evacuation route? The previous paved road surface was washed away by a flood some 15 years ago, but yesterday trucks and heavy equipment from the Municipalidad de Turrialba appeared right outside my house and began grading the road. The levelling of the road has actually happened a couple of times before, and the initial results were the same again this time. All the water pipes were cut and we remained without water for a sum total of at least a couple of days. I showered last night in the rain and the dark, standing among the clumps of red ‘chinas‘ next to the pond with a bar of soap. It’s an experience I can heartily recommend. To their credit, the village lads from the ‘acueducto‘, led by Chino and Giovanni, repaired the pipes each time the Muni broke them. I helped by shining the flashlight as they worked in the dark, covering themselves with plastic sheets against the rain.
Today the rain continues to fall, perhaps signaling the end of a long, fairly dry spell, and the water is sometimes on and sometimes off. The Muni cut the road just above our house to install some big underground pipes, channeling much of the rainwater down to the Río Guayabito. Whether the road will actually be paved remains dubious, despite the recent promises of the outgoing mayor of Turrialba, who has now been elected ‘diputado‘. But it’s a good start, and all because of the recent action of the volcano, I do believe.