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Go to Paraíso to see Costa Rica Paradise !!

Father, each of your sermons is like water to a drowning man. ~ anonymous churchgoer, quoted by the Episcopalian bishop of Chicago.

The more common way to Lake Cachí is not through Orosí, but straight through Paraíso for seven km/four miles through Ujarrás, a simple village with a great little ruined colonial-era church (1.5 km/.9 miles down a side road). Before the village stop at a dramatic lookout, Mirador de Ujarrás, at the top of the valley walls. It offers an impressive view of the valley and lake, with a quiet picnic area.

The colonial church in Ujarrás, built of limestone between 1575 and 1580, resides where an indigenous Huetar Indian fisherman claimed to have found a box with an image of the Virgin Mary. Unable to move the box, local people built a classic Spanish Colonial church, ( Nuestra Señora de la Limpia Concepción ) on the site.

Over time, the spirit of Mary is said to have performed several miracles for the villagers, including a spontaneous bell ringing that warned them of an impending flood. In 1666 she is credited with helping a hastily organized militia repel an invasion of the Caribbean coast by the English pirate Henry Morgan.

But she failed to save Ujarrás from a devastating flood in 1833 that damaged the village so badly the people abandoned it and rebuilt on higher ground. Today, the church is beautifully landscaped and makes a worthwhile visit for people like us who love gardens and old church ruins.

Across the road is one of two spring-fed balnearios ( swimming pools ) open to the public. The big hydroelectric dam of Lake Cachí is three km outside of Ujarrás on the northeastern side of the lake. From here the Río Reventazón ( Bursting River ) spills down the mountainside to the Caribbean.

Weekenders fish, hike lakeside trails and windsurf here. See above for the worthwhile open-air restaurant in Cachí, La Casona del Cafetal, which features a Sunday buffet and an interesting menu everyday.


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