We were able to get a late check out at Hotel Tramonto in Playa Hermosa, so we got to spend one more day at the beach. It was a hot, gorgeous sunny day and we soaked up as much sun as we could! The waves that day were out of control and I had a moment of panic as Andy went swimming and seemed to instantly be getting sucked out to sea with the tide! Of course he was fine, and assured me as usual that I was over-reacting...but I'm pretty sure I saw some panic below the surface in him as well (although he would never admit that). Just a reminder to us how incredibly powerful the ocean is and to always respect it. Playa Hermosa is beautiful, but not much of a swimming beach, unless you don't plan on coming back from your swim! Once again reinforcing our love affair with Samara. Being able to spend hours each day swimming & floating in the ocean, we realized, is extremely important to us and our happiness on this grand life adventure.
Just as we were leaving we saw 6 more scarlet macaws flying over us, giving us a final send off. This area is worth visiting just for the scarlet macaws alone, I will never cease to be amazed by these magnificent creatures flying above us. They will make a birdwatcher out of anyone. Apparently they mate for life, which is why you almost always see them flying in pairs. Once I saw one flying solo, making me wonder if he is too young to have found love yet? Did he lose his mate? Or does he just have commitment issues? I guess these are the things you start to think about when you no longer have a full-time job to distract you from life's simple pleasures.
We stopped again at the Tarcoles river to snap some more crocodile pictures. There are signs everywhere saying not to feed the crocodiles, but a bunch of selfish idiot Americans were throwing food and rocks at them. No wonder people dislike Americans...
It turned out to be a very foggy evening, we couldn't see 2 feet in front of us. After driving most of the day, we finally made it back to the treehouse in Escazu. Only to realize the gate is locked, we don't have Leroy's phone # saved, and he is very hard of hearing and didn't hear the buzzer at the gate, or our yells and whistles. Julia to the rescue once again! We called her and she called Leroy for us so he would open the gate. Julia is our Costa Rica whisperer and we can never repay her for all her kindness. Friends for life!
The next day we woke up to a delicious treehouse breakfast prepared by Carla. Then we head over to Julia's new apartment to check it out, very nice! She has a big storage closet that she is letting us keep some stuff in, so we don't have to take it home with us only to pack it up again. We head out for coffee and to meet her Spanish teacher Imelda for a quick trial Spanish lesson to see if we like her teaching style. Which we do! She has connections in Samara and offers to come for a month to give us lessons, assuring us that in one month she will have us speaking Spanish!
Next we head over to a bar we've been to before, and enjoyed the segua red ale, very similar in taste to Mirror Pond. Andy orders the liter of beer, for himself, and all the servers are applauding him and laughing. And again when he orders a 2nd! Apparently they are not used to beer-drinking Americans. So we tried to put on a good show for them!
We wanted to do a brewery tour of the craft brewery that makes the delicious segua ale, but they were closed for construction, so we plan to do this another time. Instead we stop to buy some food and head back to Julia's for homemade dinner of rosemary chicken and wild rice salad, very delicious. Then her and her friend Jessica take us to a really cool bar in downtown San Jose. It is in a huge, old house and they have tons of delicious craft beers on tap. Andy was impressed by the detailed list of all the hops on the wall, including Cascade and Willamette hops. It seemed just like a Portland hipster bar, so again we feel at home (well, minus the hipster part). We meet some cool, new friends and then head out to our first San Jose dance club. We were probably the only people over the age of 18 there, and the only Americans, so we felt a little out of place. But we did meet some more cool new friends, once again the people are so nice here. One guy we met kept saying how happy it makes him that we love his country so much.
It was a pretty late night so we slept in this morning and took it easy today. We fly out at 1am and get to Cabo at 10:30am Sunday. We'll be arriving on no sleep, but I'm sure that won't slow us down! Viva la Mexico!
We are mourning the end of our beach days. Tonight will be our 4th night at Hotel Tramonto, a brand new oceanfront hotel in Playa Hermosa. Today will be our last full day at the beach and then we're onto Escazu for our last two nights in Costa Rica. We will definitely miss the beach!
We're so glad we found this hotel, the rooms are new, very nice and updated. We got a free upgrade to an oceanfront balcony with a long view of the deserted coastline. The hotel and beach are empty, it's like staying in a ghost town with a private stretch of beach to explore each morning.
The beautiful scarlet macaws have made a few more appearances. Our hotel backs up into a birdwatchers paradise and we've spent a lot of time with the binoculars checking out all the bird species. The wildlife has not disappointed!
We ate dinner our first night here at a local restaurant called Rancho Typico. The language barrier somehow caused us to order a hot steaming caramel drink, instead of the bottled water we thought we were ordering (I'm blaming this one on Andy). The drink however was delicious, but did not go well with our Arroz con Pollo on such a hot evening. But we still enjoyed both. And we can't wait to learn Spanish so we can stop feeling like such idiotic American tourists everywhere we go.
The next day Andy got a haircut in Jaco and we then ate lunch at The Fish Taco Bar. They have swings for chairs around the bar, bringing out anyone's inner child. We each had one tuna taco, with a full salad bar, and it was awesome. Later that night we ate sushi at Arigato's. The sushi is so fresh, delicious and CHEAP! We had fresh tuna, seared tuna, mahi, salmon, edamame, Japanese fried rice, a spicy tuna roll and tempura ice cream for dessert, and our tab only came to $24.
Yeseterday we ventured over to Herradura, a nice little marina town. We walked up and down the beach, then checked out the fancy marina. We eventually at the El Pelicano on the beach and again had Arroz con pollo, which has become our favorite dish here and we can't wait to try each restaurants version, as they are all so different. It's basically just a pile of fried rice with chicken and tons of veggies and spices. I'm excited to perfect making my own version someday.
Our friend Julia, who lives in San Jose, just got a new apartment and invited us over for dinner on our last evening, with plans to head to a local craft brewery afterward. Apparently the brewery uses Cascade Hops, so we're excited to learn more and maybe take a tour of the brewery.
We're spending our last beach day soaking up the sun before our next 2 days back in the city. We fly out of San Jose June 14th, but we're not heading back to Oregon just yet. We're stopping over in Cabo for a week to meet up with our friends Wayne & Katie. So we do get one more week on the beach in the sun! :)
Playa Hermosa was beautiful. We stayed at the Backyard Beachfront Hotel, right on the ocean. Our room was one of the nicest we've stayed in, a big comfy king bed, an oceanfront balcony, and a delicious breakfast. We finally had a typical costa rican breakfast, called "typico", of rice, beans, scrambled eggs and tortillas with crema (sour cream) and what they call salsa (a very tasty dark brown sauce). We loved it and it kept us full all day.
The hotel had a nice big beachfront pool which we hung out at quite a bit. We had the entire place to ourselves. It's great to come during slow season, the rooms are half price and the hotels and beaches are deserted. The waves were huge, this is a big surfing beach and people travel from everywhere to surf this stretch of ocean. It is a black sand beach, the darkest sand we've ever seen, and so gorgeous.
The wildlife was incredible, as soon as we checked in we saw four huge scarlet macaws. They made the coolest sounds as they flew over us. I had never seen such a huge, colorful bird in the wild, so close up. There were so many iguanas surrounding the hotel too, we loved watching them fight for space as we swam in the pool. Playa Hermosa is definitely a special place.
We checked out and drove toward Dominical & Uvita. We stopped at a few hotels after checking out the towns, but couldn't find what we were looking for. We eventually stumbled onto Coconut Grove, just outside Dominical, and rented a little bungalow with a kitchen, right on the beach. The tide was high when we got there so we lounged by the pool in the hammocks and then headed to the supermarket to get dinner and breakfast fixings. The fresh fruit here is so tasty. A fresh, huge pineapple is usually less than $1 and tastes amazing. The bananas are so fresh, cheap and delicious. The other night I had the best mango I've ever eaten. The papayas are also super yummy. We are being spoiled with all the fresh fruit we have for breakfast each morning. We stopped at a fruit stand in Dominical and bought a huge pineapple, a huge watermelon, a bunch of bananas, a huge ripe avocado, a lime and a mango, and our total came to less than $6!
After a walk on the beach & a swim in the pool. we checked out and drove around in Dominical. We almost stayed at the Waterfall Villas, in a villa overlooking the falls. But the prices were pretty high at $140, and it was far from the beach. Instead we're staying at Hotel Diuwak right in the heart of Dominical, right on the beach, with a big fancy pool. And A/C of course, which is a necessity, although we are slowly getting used to the heat & humidity. This is good since we'll need to limit our A/C use once we move here. Electricity is very expensive.
We swam in the pool after checking in and then took a beach walk, both deciding that Dominical is not our favorite beach and that we couldn't see ourselves living here. Mental Note. Some of the best advice we were given was to come here and check everything out for ourselves, before deciding where to live. Everyone likes different things and you won't know until you come. We had assumed we wouldn't want to live too close to the beach, where it's hotter and more humid and more expensive. We figured we'd want to live up in the mountains, with the cooler air. But we both fell in love with the beaches here and want to live within walking distance from a nice beach, with swimmable water. Samara is exactly that, so we are happy with our choice to start out living there. I like that Samara was not a place we heard anyone talk about, or recommend to us. We stumbled onto it by ourselves, almost by accident, and it is quite a little piece of paradise that no one seems to know about (except all of you now). A hidden gem,
I think we will check out Ojochal tomorrow and then possibly head back to Playa Hermosa and the Jaco area for a few nights. We're spending our final two nights back at the treehouse in Escazu, where we spent our first two nights. We decided not to check out the Osa Peninsuala on this trip, after reading about the horrible roads and the multiple river crossings. One that is notorious for many tourists vehicles getting swept down the river each year. NO THANK YOU. Even Andy agreed that is not such a good idea. I think he remembers my reaction to the last river crossing pretty well and doesn't need to live (or die) through that again.
Hasta Luego Amigos!
We found a place to live! We are renting a small 2 BR house in Samara, right downtown, 1/2 block to the beach, A/C in the bedroom, wifi, with a huge fenced yard (big enough to play cornhole in). You can see the ocean from the street right outside the house. It feels meant to be with how easily it worked out. I sent one email and instantly found the perfect place for us, within in our budget. We're renting it July through October, so 4 months total, although we won't be here for all of July. We're hoping to make the big move back over here by mid to late July. Pretty exciting! Now we can really relax and enjoy the rest of our trip...not that we haven't been already doing that!
We got pretty sunburned a couple days ago, despite reapplying sunscreen repeatedly. We took a couple days off from the sun and the ocean swimming, to recover. We also ditched the 30 SPF sunscreen and are going with 50 from now on.
Venturing over to Tamarindo for a night was fun. We stayed at a really cool bed & breakfast on the beach, and met some awesome people. We finally broke the tradition of each place being our new favorite, as we liked Tamarindo but could not see ourselves living there. The beach was packed with people and is not very safe at night, and there are hagglers everywhere trying to get you to buy their stuff. We walked a couple blocks up and down the main street and got hassled constantly. Saying no or ignoring them does not work, they chase you down the street and do not give up. So Tamarindo was not our new favorite place, although we did enjoy it and will definitely be back to visit again. And we finally saw some howler monkeys while there! One of the last animals we really wanted to see but hadn't yet. A whole family of them, with a couple babies, just chilling in the trees, howling at each other. So cool.
We are back in Samara now for a couple nights. We found another great hotel, a block from the beach, A/C, wifi, 2 pools and a delicious breakfast, only $50/night. The best deal we have found yet.
Yesterday we found a great snack shack, with $4-$5 sandwiches, wraps, salads...Andy had a chicken bacon ceasar wrap and I had a grilled Cuban sandwich, and we shared an orange smoothie. Then we ate at the Italian restaurant at our hotel last night, we had pasta and pizza, all homemade. We continue to be impressed with the food here, incredibly delicious.
Tomorrow we are heading to stay a night at the beach called Playa Hermosa (translation = beautiful beach) outside the town of Jaco. We booked a nice oceanfront hotel with an infinity pool for a night. This area has been recommended to us by a few different people so we're looking forward to checking it out. It's a popular surfing beach so the waves will probably be too big for us to swim in, another reason we love Samara.
Last night we saw a bunch of locals playing baseball in a small park area right downtown, we sat and watched them for quite a while. Andy was pretty excited about that, he's planning to join them in the future. He'll probably get a whole league going I'm sure.
Today we started our morning off with a 2 hour swim in the ocean (with lots of SPF 50 on). Soon we're gonna head over to the $4 quesadilla shack down the road for lunch. Then a beach walk and a sunset swim before dinner. Not too shabby.
Kari Pinkerton Silcox
It would be a tragedy to die, having never really lived. Which is why my husband Andy and I quit our jobs, sold our house and decided to chase our dreams. We moved to Costa Rica without a plan, and this is the story of our adventure.