Published: April 16th 2012April 15th 2012
For our first vacation outside of the great state of Nevada, we chose Costa Rica for Thanksgiving. We flew into the capital city San Jose and had elected to rent a vehicle direclty from the airport. We arrived around 8 at night and didnt anticipate driving downtown from the airport in our tiny SUV. We had to argue with the salesman about the difference between 4 wheel drive and 4 by 4. If there are 4 wheels it is considered 4x4 for advertising purposes. Not quite what we wanted.
From the rental copany we negotiated our way downtown to the Holiday Inn which was located in the center of the city. It was interesting driving in a new city, let alone at night with all the signs in Spanish and where the streets are packed with pedestrians.
We made it and enjoyed one of the best nights in a hotel room in a long time. This was some serious luxory for $80. The next morning we were headed on what we believed to be a 4 hour drive to the pacific coast of Guanacaste. The drive began with a picturesque tour through the mountains. This did not last long
The spot where we were sold on traveling
and soon we were on the Panamanian Highway. Chaos is a mild world to describe the drive after this. The winds were strong due to the change between the wet and dry seasons and was blowing trees over left and right. This was the start of the obstacle course. Soon we came upon a car accident and the traffic was backed up for miles. More chaos ensued as tourists and locals tried to drive around the mess.
After we finally got throught the traffic jam we left the Panamanian and headed west again. This was more pleasant and we stopped and one of the many bar/restaurants for lunch and a beer. We finally realized that Spanish lessons would have been helpful. Just getting a meal ordered was a challenge. Luckily the lonely planet translation guide was v helpful and basically saved our asses.
Back on the road again and we are back on track, about 5 hours into our 4 hour trip. Determined to be on the beach with a cocktail by sunset we drove on. As we closed in on the coast the roads got wilder. Giant potholes, women with children, chickens, dogs and most impressively the
Spent a couple of nights at the Mono Congo Lodge and redeemed our entire vacation
buses, were all intent on trying to wreck our vehicle. High speed buses would pass us at a ridiculous rate of speed only to come to a rapid stop within feet of passing us, causing us to swerve to avoid them. Some poor passenger would leap out before the bus took off again.
Finally we reached the little tourist town where our hotel was located. Having come so far we were focusing a little too hard on the sunset cocktail and almost drove off a bridge, and by bridge I mean a tiny concrete ramp accross a ravine with no signs and no side railings. Finally, we reach the hotel and sunset on the beach.
We spent some time exporing the area. Tamarindo was not our favorite. It seems that all the strung out americans moved to Tamarindo to do drugs, sell street junk and generally ruin the town. We tried our hand at surfing lessons here. My instructor was great and v persistent. The only English he used was "paddle paddle paddle" as I attempted to ride a wave, followed by a long sigh as I crashed again.
We spent a couple of days with Mandy
At the "Spa" at the volcano
took a trip to the volcano spa adventure with Mandy and Bruce, friends traveling in Costa Rica from Ely
and Bruce, 2 friends from Ely who were travling Costa Rica via bus. We took a trip to a volcano to zip line and enjoy the spa. This was a hige mud bath with various hot spas and was pretty fun. It was very touristy but still a blast. We were glad to have help with translating as both Mandy and Bruce were fairly fluent in Spanish. This at least made ordering food less of a gamble. We dropped them off at the airport which was barely a grass trail for tiny planes and off they went.
We had had enough of the touristy, spun out americans that were cluttering the area we were staying in so we opted for a fishing trip to check out the coast line. It was beautiful from the water. After catching a tuna I started to get sea sick so we headed closer to shore to fish. We were sailing south and the beaches started to look quieter. When we got off the boat we took our tuna and decided to drive south and see where we ended up. The road were awful and I am sure you could lose a small VW
in some of the potholes created by the rainy season. But armed with the lonely planet guide we went in search of a restaurant and some non traditional costa rican food. Generally the local food was not very good.
We found the Mono Congo lodge run by an american couple. They had two sons and had awards for cooking. Our tuna became sashimi and was wonderful. We spent time at Playa Avellana and Playa Negra and loved it. We met a couple from San Diego that recommended Nicaragua as a cheaper version of Costa Rica ... and the spark was created
We had a great time and would love to spend more time in the southern portion of the west coast and hope to sail there one day.
There are more photos below