After a few kilometers the road from Alajuela, in the direction of Atenas, reaches the little village of La Garita. The settlement consists of a loose collection of pretty houses, farms and many small sodas serving visitors. Most of the inhabitants of the village make their living planting bananas and citrus fruit. The pleasant year-round temperature remains between 20 and 25°C.
A superb display of flowers, especially bougainvilleas, decorates the houses. The fields of the nearby nursery, Orchid Alley, contain more than 100,000 orchids, including Costa Rica’s national flower, the guaria morada. It is well worth spending a little time at Orchid Alley and taking a closer look at the fascinating world of orchids. The park, with its more than 1,200 varieties, is famous throughout the area and contains the largest collection of orchids in Central America.
Corn is one of the most important products for the economy of the region. The high point of a visit to the area around La Garita is a meal at the Fiesta del Maiz restaurant, which is arranged like a cozy covered beer garden. It serves the delicious corn grown in the highlands, prepared in a mouth-watering variety of recipes. Corn is sauteed, grilled with butter, salt and pepper, served as corn on the cob or in kernels, and eaten as a tasty accompaniment to meat dishes. Mariachi bands entertain on weekends, going from table to table singing lovely rancheras for the appreciative crowd.