In the early afternoon of January 8, 2009, an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale struck the area just west of Volcán Poás, leaving at least 34 people dead and making thousands homeless. The worst quake to hit Costa Rica in nearly 150 years, it destroyed the village of Cinchona and scythed through nearby Vara Blanca; Poasito and Fraijanes were also damaged, while landslides affected Parque Nacional Volcán Poás and buried parts of La Paz Waterfall Gardens, stranding some 300 tourists in the process.

The area’s return to normality has been slow. Aftershocks continued in the Valle Central throughout the year – more than 2000 tremors were registered along the Chinchona fault line in 2009 – and workers were still repairing damage to the region’s roads and buildings more than a year on; at the time of writing, the road north to San Miguel remained closed. The national park and gardens have long since reopened, though, and from the dust, a new community, Nueva Cinchona, is rising – built in Cariblanco, 6km from the original, it will house 1200 of the survivors who lost their homes in the surrounding area.

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