Alright friends, I know I’m a little overdue here. I’m going to give ya’ll a quick run down of Colin and my trip in Costa Rica, the sight’s we saw, and places we stayed.
Hostel Bekuo is the best place to stay in San José. $40 a night private room (dormitory accommodations are $12) includes a pancake breakfast in the morning with fresh fruit. Our room had a trippy little upper loft. We quested for food (Jamie recommended Cafe Spoon) and found all doors closed immediately prior except for a douchy bar just off hwy 2 in San José where we got decent fish tacos.
The next day we searched hard for a rental car and finally got one at U-Save. It was a little compact Jimny jeep type thing. It was more of a truck than a car really, manual 4X4 car with 4X4 low. We ultimately decided we didn’t want to drive into the rain (and no thirsty towels) so wouldn’t be going to the Caribbean. Instead we drove to Jamie and Diego’s and dropped off an epically huge party size bag of peanut butter m&ms, saw cute Doberman puppies and the roosters.
On the way there stopped for our first Costa Rican casado between San Isidro and Dominical. We both got chicken and lots of salsa lisano with a hot cup of coffee on a slightly rainy mountain afternoon.
We drove to Dominical and watched the last moments of sunset. We cruised the beach for our first time, then found Emma and Dan’s apartment by asking the bartender at Tortilla Flats. The four of us went to Tortilla Flats for dinner. Colin got the tuna and everyone else got the coconut encrusted mahi mahi.
Woke up the next morning and went to the fruit stand. Got Oj, bananas, and papaya. Went for our first swim in the ocean after cruising all the way to the end of the beach where there was a little private swim area. Then we went back to the apartment and met up with Emma and Dan to go to the Nauyaca waterfall.
Massive uphill hike to the waterfall ensued after intense Jimny driving down into a gorge valley. Pepe the swindler will watch your car for at least a dollar more than it’s supposed to be. But he’s wildly entertaining. Mid-way through the hike there’s a small restaurant with parrots and a toucan and peacock (it also has nice bathrooms). This is where you pay $3 per person for the waterfall.
Continue uphill hike. We chose first to go to the top of the waterfall. The view was spectacular. There was a house-sized boulder in front it, causing you to wonder about the moment when it came toppling down. Oh the power of water, dude. Then we journeyed down to the swimming area. The swimming area is large, deep, and totally refreshing. Colin swam all the way to where the crashing water met the pool (and fought mad waterfall current to get there). He sat underneath the waterfall and jumped high off rocks doing half cannonballs. Then we ate delicious avocado and crackers and mango (the best mango of our lives).
We all hiked out and bought some pineapple for pina coladas. Then we drove straight to the beach for a beautiful sunset. Dan made some bomb pina coladas and we sipped them while we got ready to go out for a sushi dinner. We strolled over to Que Nival for sushi and beers. We had the tico roll, tropical roll, rainbow roll and spicy tuna all filled with the freshest of fish and a healthy dosage of wasabi.
(Colin said he could have eaten more wasabi as he likes his directly on the sushi. I felt satisfied with the amount)
Tuesday morning we got a good start on the day with a tico breakfast of gallo pinto con huevos at the restaurant behind the fruit stand. Colin’s first gallo pinto with salsa lisano con huevos fritos y tortilla was delicious and very satisfying. Went to the beach for a short morning swim and then back to the apartment to get ready for the mangrove tour.
Rachel was our tour guide ($50 per person) at Pina Kayak Domincal. You have to go during high tide (for us that was at 11 a.m.) We had quite a group of tourists. Mostly folks from the Florida Keys and one very robust man named Tim. We saw white-faced Capuchin monkeys, an amazing array of birds including kingfishers, black-faced stilts, osprey, tiger heron and the snowy egret. We saw lots of crabs and were on the look out for a sloth but no cigar. We saw a drug trafficker bridge and a wild CR full moon beach lagoon party.
We stopped at Tortilla Flats for an afternoon beer ($2 a piece for Pilsen; dos Pilsen porfa) and a chance to book ourselves some lodging in Manuel Antonio. Shortly thereafter we walked down the beach to meet Brittany for a joint surf lesson. As I suspected, Colin was a natural-born surfer. He got up to standing position about the first time he tried. Eventually Brittany just guided him while he crashed into huge waves looking for a good one to ride to shore. I chose the smaller waves and struggled a bit more. But I did get up on my feet after maybe 1 try as well. However I was much quicker to wipe out. I think I drank the entire ocean worth of salt water during our lesson. I was actually surprised there was still an ocean left to slap me in the face.
Brittany told us that salt water would later pour of our nose from surfing. Colin said he didn’t get as much water up his nose as I did. We got to watch the sunset while ridin’ waves (even though it was pretty cloudy because a storm was brewing).
Then we packed up and headed out to Manuel Antonio. Watched crazy lightening on the way there. The highway was nice and smooth with great reflectors. We got to Manuel Antonio (after asking directions a couple of times) and reached Costa Linda, where we discovered, much to our dismay, that we had booked a room with two twin beds bolted to the wall. Had a couple’s conference about what to do next. We decided to look for alternate lodging and the second place we came to was affordable and quite nice, called Coco Beach Hotel ($40 a night, own bathroom, two queen beds, and internet). Went out in search of food, failed repeatedly and got cranky. We finally found a restaurant on the main highway, across the beach, called “Barrest Las Gemelas” where we ordered an absolutely delectable dish of tico calamari ($6) with a red sauce and jalapeno and onions with some toasted French bread. For our main course, we split an entrée of garlic encrusted Mahi Mahi ($11) that came with fresh vegetables, a side salad and some rice. We performed a side-by-side taste test of Pilsen and Imperial and found that Imperial tastes a little better, even though Pilsen has a higher alcohol content.
Tuesday we woke up after a wonderful night’s sleep and got ready for breakfast at Costa Verde, “where there are still more monkeys than people.” Unfortunately we didn’t see any monkeys. We did have an amazing view of the ocean shore in front of Manuel Antonio.
We booked a zip line tour for 1 p.m. with Canopy Safari. Then we went to the beach after breakfast and jumped some waves. I almost got hit by a surfer.
Our Canopy Tour ($65 per person) included transport to and from the zip line (which was a 45 minute drive), fresh fruit, a butterfly and snake exhibit, and the zip line itself: 10 platforms, 2 times rappelling and a Tarzan swing. We saw a Fir De Lance at the snake exhibit, a venomous snake with a diamond-shaped head which we were told will chase you if you fuck with it. So don’t.
Our tour guides were wonderful and told us about: trees, vines (have leaves), roots (no leaves), glue, cinnamon and other spices. We learned about a type of tree that sheds its bark to keep clean, a tree that walks, a tree that engulfs and kills other trees. Vanilla is the second most expensive spice because we have to pollinate it ourselves to produce it faster. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.
We both went upside-down on the zip lines and got expressed dropped down the rappel (a fast drop to the lower platform which made me scream with surprise).
Finished with an excellent meal of tortillas, refried black beans, salad, and slow cooked chicken on the bone. And beers. We took our Imperial on the bus back and did sing alongs with our middle-aged canopy tour companions to Billy Joel, Bob Dylan and the Beatles.
And that’s half the vacay…