Biodiversity Park INBio in Heredia. We went for a mushroom festival and came out with so much more.
A mushroom festival was mentioned in a local paper one day. It was going to be held at a place we had never heard of before, INBio Park. It peaked our interest because we had already started some shiitake plugs in a piece of a local tree (guachipelin) and were 3 months deep into a 6 month waiting period for growth. We were excited and hoped that we could find answers to all of the questions that we had and to confirm that we had given our plugs a good start.
When we arrived at the park we were surprised at how much this place was set up like a zoo in the U.S. It seems to be situated in the middle of nowhere (use a GPS), there are two parking lots that you have to pay to park in and they give you a map of the park when you pay your entrance fee. There was a special pack of coloring pages for kids under 10 that I made sure I didn’t miss out on. This place was much bigger and much cooler than we had thought.
Mushroom Festival – These people love Mushrooms
The first thing we see through the entrance gate is the mushroom festival. There are tents set up with tables on both sides. You can buy books, get a gourmet mushroom lunch, buy mushroom starter kits and see living examples of almost every type of fungi that grows in Costa Rica. The sign says that the demonstration starts at 11:30 so we have time to get lunch and look around.
After the 1 and a half hour mushroom class and demonstration, which was incredible, we walked through an entire section of the park dedicated to mushrooms. The building that housed it was made to look like a giant log with fungi growth and the glass windows inside showed laboratories and growing areas. As you can see, I wanted my picture taken with every giant shroom.
On to the other exhibits
INBio biodiversity park in Costa Rica has sections dedicated to the countries various climates. You can visit the dry forest area and see the white tailed deer, go to the lowland rain forest to see frogs and spiders, the lake area has caimans, lizards and a butterfly garden or head over to the farm animal area to see a traditional farm set-up and local plants that are grown for food and medicine. Be sure to go through the living maze on your way to the solar energy command center of the park.
There are also buildings dedicated to snakes and climate change. The serpentarium had some of the largest snakes that we had ever seen and the climate change building housed a giant volcano that was donated by Japan. It was informative and fun.
Descriptive signs are in both Spanish and English, and even though our Spanish is really blossoming it was nice to not have to think about everything and just enjoy. We had been to Costa Rica many times as tourists long before moving here and had never heard of this park . Which is a shame because it is an incredible learning experience. If you only have a short time in Costa Rica or you get stuck in San Jose you should visit. It allows you to see all of the different eco-systems and flora that Costa Rica has to offer, all in one place. You can find the website in English here.
And you get to walk out to the parking lot through this awesome cylinder made of plastic bottle caps!
On a sad note, when I returned home to check my mushroom project I noticed that the logs that I had put the plugs in had started to re-grow, which means no shiitake until I try again. The mushrooms need a tree limb that is dead to grow on. I am going to try and find some oak branches since they are known to be great growing logs. Wish me luck.