San Jose to Puerto Viejo

Trip Start Apr 15, 2011
Trip End Apr 23, 2011

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Lisbon Guests
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Limon,
Saturday, April 16, 2011

After a smoggy day in San Jose (but a comfortable night at the Adventure Inn) we were relieved to be heading to our main attraction of the week...Puerto Viejo on the Southeastern coast of Costa Rica. 

Jen had taken care of the reservations for a van to drive us there, and they picked us up right at 7:30. We took on four more passengers before heading out of San Jose for the 4 hour drive to the coast. 

Our driver was a man named Carlos, and he shall go down in history as the most pleasant person EVER. Even though his English was extremely limited, he was nice enough to inform all the passengers of where we were driving through, interesting things to take pictures of, and even had some great comedic moments. 

The drive was scenic to start, over winding mountains surrounding San Jose and through National Parks and Forests teeming with wildlife and rain forest flora. Once outside of the mountainous region the drive became a bit tedious, though it was punctuated by conversations with our driver (that we partially understood) and conversations with our van mates who hailed from Canada and the United States. 

The drive however was interrupted by a flipped over truck, which left us stuck in traffic for nearly an hour. At some points the traffic was so slow that Carlos took the opportunity to leave the van and have a cigarette or make small talk with other drivers. The worst part was that the accident was a mere 3 miles from our rest stop (which we all desperately needed). Once past the accident though we stopped for food, and continued on.

The landscape quickly changed from rolling green hills to sprawling banana plantations as far as you could see. Costa Rica ranks 7th in the world for banana exports and it was easy to see why. The entire area was dominated by massive trucks clogging up the highway, their banners proudly displaying the iconic images of Dole and Chiquita. 

We also passed coffee plantations before trekking onto roads far less used than the one we were on. Except for the blackness of the asphalt, you would doubt the idea that this was actually a road we were on. It was riddled with pot holes, cracks, no painted lines, etc...and a lot of credit is due for the Nissan van which we were in, which must endure this grueling journey everyday. 

One very cheerful moment occurred when Carlos slammed on the brakes and had us get out of the van in the middle of ominous sign....but then proceeded to point up to the trees where about a dozen howler monkeys were sleeping through the midday heat. It's fascinating to see these creatures outside of a zoo, and were were all glad that our driver was nice enough to stop and let us take pictures.

Now, the drive was supposed to be 4 hours. After traffic and the terrible road conditions it turned out to be closer to 6.5 hours and needless to say we were tired after reaching our hotel.

We bid farewell to Carlos, and checked into our room, a suite, and immediately took in the ocean view. O.k., that's a total lie. We actually took in the view of the hotel dogs and cat! Yeah that's right, despite being in a tropical paradise we set our minds instead on the pets of Totem Hotel, one of which we have since named....Rocquita (pronounced Ro-key-ta) You'll find out later why.

We hadn't even finished unpacking when we through on our sandals and bathing suits and headed over to the white sandy beaches lining the Caribbean. The water, is like a bathtub. The sand, hotter than heck. And the sun seemed to melt away all our troubles. We were in paradise. 

And not 1 minute after exiting the ocean and claiming a piece of beach to soak up the sun on, did a native Tico accost us with the offer of delicious food and cold beer. We declined, but the offer still made us happy. 

We enjoyed the beach for about 30 minutes before heading to the hotel pool, and only afterwards finally deciding to properly unpack since we would be here for the next 5 days. That's when we formally met the cat named Rocquita. 

This cat (a she) bears a striking resemblance to our cat at home Rocky. However, because it's a she, and she's much smaller than our elephant Rocky...we nicknamed her Rocquita. We were first introduced to her at dinner in the hotel restaurant, but amazingly she found her way to our room...and then, somehow, got around the entire building...scaled a floor..and sat on our deck. She's so friendly she has been cuddling with Jen while she reads. 

More on Rocquita manana. Tonight, heavy...HEAVY rain. It's so loud in our room that the volume on the TV could probably make someone go deaf. So despite the traffic and very long drive...we are here. And we are very excited. Tomorrow we plan on going into town! Goodnight!  
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