Following the northern shore, the road drops past a look-out post leading to the small community of Ujarrás and the ruins of the country’s first colonial church built between 1570 and 1580. Legend has it that in 1666, English pirates, including the youthful Henry Morgan, were seen off by the citizens of Ujarrás aided by the Virgin. This miraculous protection is celebrated annually on April 16, or the closest Sunday, when the saint is carried in procession from Paraíso to the ruined church. The grounds surrounding the ruins are a popular picnic spot with Josefino families. Over the road are a couple of pools that are positively heaving at weekends. The Charrarra Tourist Complex is a 30-minute walk from Ujarrás (there are direct buses at weekends leaving one block north of Cartago ruins). There is a restaurant, swimming pool, boat rides on the lake and a good campsite.
Continuing east, the Presa de Cachí (Cachí Dam) is not particularly impressive in scale or detail, unless it’s releasing water, but makes for a natural stopping point before heading along the southern shore and the compulsory stop at the Casa del Soñador (the Dreamer’s House), where Hermes and Miguel Quesada carve figurines and faces using twisted old coffee plant roots and driftwood (some are for sale), continuing a sculptural tradition started by their late father, Macedonia Quesada.
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