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Published: February 8th 2008
After an early morning bus ride home from Monteverde we reorganized our things and headed up the Inter-Americana Highway on our way to meet the McLeod's in Samara. We were making terrific time, for Costa Rica, and had gone 50 kilometers in 45 minutes when traffic slowed to a crawl. The next 10 KM took 45 minutes and we finally made it to the turn off towards the Friendship Bridge and our final destination for the day, Hacienda San Fernando near Samara. When planning any excursion in Costa Rica it is very important to allow for at least one hour travel for every 50 kilometers as you never know when there will be an accident or a bus completely burned on the side of the road slowing things down. In Costa Rica the highway is one lane in each direction on most of the highways and if there is an accident, the vehicles are not permitted to move until both the police and the insurance agent arrives and reviews the scene. After the turn off the main highway towards Nicoya the traffic always flows better and we arrived at the bottom of the driveway heading up to the Hacienda at mid-afternoon.
Is that Mel??
See the canopy tent in the top left corner of the photo...MEL???? Nice beach, private and powder white sand.
I tried in futility to drive my little 1993 Hyundai Elantra up the drive but only made it about one third of the way up the third incline when I had to back down and park at a very convenient spot at the bottom of that portion of the driveway. It was almost as if the spot was designed for vehicles not equipped to deal with the steep incline. The only way to get to our final destination was to walk the remainder of the driveway in the 32 Celsius heat on the 15% grade and thankfully we discovered the McLeod's basking in paradise after only about an eight minute climb. It was a welcome site to see Jared and Ariana swimming in the beautiful Infinity pool and Gail and Lach relaxing poolside enjoying the view of their children playing, the Pacific Ocean, and the lush jungle below. The rest of the day was spent getting settled in and setting ourselves up for a few days of relaxing and enjoying the pool, view, and nearby sand and surf at Playas Samara, Berogonal, and Carillo.
We enjoyed the evening relaxing poolside enjoying cool beverages and eating chicken BBQ'd on my new
Hold Still Howler
Getting a decent picture of a Howler is not very easy
charcoal grill I got for Christmas. The Hacienda is amazing with views from every room, a great room, and guest house not more than 25 steps from the back door.
Upon reading through the guest book and the tips and suggestions left behind by the owner we decided to go to the "secret" beach suggested by the owners and recommended in the guest book. Our choice was made because they raved about the privacy and pristine nature of the beach...it was also alluring because Mel Gibson had recently purchased all the property adjoined to the beach and since it was Christmas holidays we thought we might spot him enjoying the spot with his family and get a few photos to sell and finance our time here. Fortunately we were able to find the beach and it was amazing. We never did get to see Mel, but he had a canopy tent with about 15 chairs, refreshments, and entertainment set-up waiting on the beach for him and his guests if they were so inclined to use the beach. I spoke with the fellow manning the beach party in-waiting and he told me he set up everyday "the owner" was at
Two Worlds Collide
Yes I asked permission to take a photo of this man using his oxen to haul a large log.
the property. We did meet a troupe of Howler Monkeys on our way back to the vehicle and enjoyed watching them doing their thing in the wild. Thankfully there was no poo throwing.
The following days at Samara and area confirmed our first impressions of this relatively quiet, yet, bustling little beach town. I read it many times on various blogs and I will add to the phenomenon of it becoming overused by travel bloggers...we are here to experience Costa Rica and we've been too busy doing things to be writing about things. During our time in Samara and area we enjoyed an unbelievable vacation. I realize that may sound unreasonable for those of you who believe we have been on vacation the whole time we've been here. However, picking up a job filling in for a grade 5 and 6 position, that has been vacant three times previous during the year, during the last two months of school, in a foreign country, where you don't really speak the language, understand the "way of being", and taking care of each other is not always a vacation so it was time to relax and enjoy Costa Rica the way most
The Ants Came Marching In
Here is part of the ant trail into the house. Check out the video for more details. I missed the prime photo op trying to find out what we were looking at for reclaiming our space.
foreigners do...by having a vacation.
During our time with the McLeod's we enjoyed so many different experiences and places. The pool and view as previously mentioned, the secret garden, the daily visits by the Howler Monkeys, sunsets, BBQ, White-Throated Magpie Jay,sunsets, surfing, wave jumping, Black-Headed Trogon, eating on the beach at Sheriff Rustic, pizza night, Texas Hold'em, Squirrel Cuckoo, two hour walks on the beach looking for turtles laying eggs, turtles digging up other turtle's eggs, seeing a turtle lay eggs "no pictures of turtles tonight PLEASE", Woodpeckers, soccer on the beach, BBQ, boogie-boarding, Red-Fronted Parrotlet, sunsets, Armadillos, zip-lining, surfing lessons,Variegated Squirrel, darts, sunsets, being woken up by howls of the Howler, Yellow-Tailed Oriole, and last but most important and appreciated, FAMILY were the highlights of our first of many extended trips to Samara. I can almost guarantee that I've left out something important and a bird or two out, but who can keep track of it all without a scorecard.
I don't want to go all emotional here, but, it has to be mentioned, living in a different country is not always fun or easy. Yes, we are having the time of our lives. However, the initial
The Infinity pool was a great place to cool down and of course enjoy the beautiful views.
immersion into life here in Costa Rica was mentally and emotionally one of the toughest things I've ever experienced. Having the element of trust in one's life cannot be underestimated. Yes, I am writing specifically about personal trust and it was great to be with people we know, trust, and who we can forgive and be forgiven by, implicitly. The greater perspective of trust also permeates our lives as in Canada I know I can trust that the electricity, internet, water, highway, bank will be essentially reliable. Costa Rica is a great place and is very advanced relative to the other Central American countries, but, it simply hasn't developed to the standards of North America. It takes energy to deal with the unknown and the visit and vacation with the McLeod's recharged our mental and emotional energy while at the same time physically exhausting us. It is hard work swimming in the ocean! I know at this point you're all very likely feeling sooooo sorry for us...
A tale I cannot leave out ...When we returned from the perfect day at the beach, sorry I've lost track of which perfect day at the beach it was, we discovered our
Sunset from the Patio
I'll have to create a sunset photo album...seriously.
accommodations, the casita, had been completely overrun by ants. The place was literally crawling with ants everywhere I looked. Without thinking of the photo op I hustled off to tell the caretaker. I was informed that the ants were army ants and they would be gone in an hour or so. Apparently they invade areas take what they want and leave. Amazing to witness...and kind of creepy if the idea of sleeping in a bed, or wearing clothes, that were swarming with ants hours earlier bothers you. Sure enough we watched the army ants ravage some other ants with eggs who were taking refuge in the house from the attack of their nest outside. They came, they conquered, and as promised, they were gone before long having cleaned the casita of most every living thing smaller than a thumbtack.
The Samara area is such a great place for families I cannot recommend it enough. If you like low key vacationing without towering condos and the crowds that come with them you'll love Samara. There is a nice reef protecting the beach so it is safe to swim and perfect for boogie boarding and learning to surf. There isn't an
Our accommodations thanks to the kind and generous McLeod's. What a great Christmas present.
abundance of restaurants but there is enough variety and price ranges to suit all travelers. There aren't a pile of high-end hotels but there are a couple and many mid-ranges and budget spots. The place has a real local flavour especially during local holidays. There is a large European influence and the North American representation is balanced evenly between Canadians and Americans. Places we recommend include C & C Surf School, Restaurant Sheriff Rustic, Wing Nuts Canopy Tour, Restaurant El Ancla and BBQing on Playa Carillo.
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