South of Paraiso the road drops steeply for six kilometers to the Valle Orosi, through which the Rio Orosi flows past coffee plantations and warm-water springs. The idyllic village of Orosi lies snugly tucked into the valley. It was founded in 1561 by Franciscan monks and merits a longer stop.

In 1699, the plague broke out in Orosi and the village was abandoned for decades to come. In 1735, the former inhabitants returned and founded a new church, the Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi, complete with attached cloister symbolizing a new and better beginning. The church, which is still in use today, is a very simple adobe brick construction, in part covered with limestone mortar, at the foot of the Cerro de Santa Lucia. Its massive wooden roof, terra cotta floor and heavy church pews impressively portray the lifestyle prevalent in rural Costa Rica two hundred years ago. The recently renovated interior of the church is paneled with dark wood, a perfect background for paintings by 18thcentury Mexican artist Miguel Cabrera.

In 1980, the Museo de Arte Religioso, a religious museum, was established in the former Franciscan cloister near the church. It contains 120 items including furniture from the old cloister, paintings, icons, holy pictures, crucifixes, silver censers, containers for myrrh and a complete monk’s cell, showing how members of the religious order lived.

The hot mineral-water spa one kilometer south of the Orosi, Balnearios Agua Caliente Los Patios, offers a different sort of pleasure. The well maintained facility with its mineral thermal springs features 50°C water for bathing, showers, dressing rooms, a bar and a restaurant, and provides a welcome diversion in warm as well as cool weather. Orosi has one further attraction: right next to Los Patios is a coffee mill (beneficio). A tour called Orosi Coffee Adventure takes visitors on three-hour guided tours through the finca and the surrounding countryside. If you happen to work up an appetite during the tour, the Hotel Rio Palomo, four kilometers away on the road to Palomo, is the place to stop. It is famous for its excellent fresh fish and has a large swimming pool.

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