Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Costa Rica Recap: Day 6

Up early this morning. We wanted to head out before breakfast to find a small local waterfall. At breakfast one morning we sat by a very hippy-ish older guy who told us all about this great waterfall that was so close and so easy to get to. So we set out this morning to follow his directions. We never did find a waterfall, but had some adventurous times 4-wheeling through mud and streams and up and down incredibly steep hills. The kids all agreed that it was fun even without playing in the waterfall. 

Back for breakfast at Cafe Ensuenos for the last time, then packed up the car and headed for our next stop in Samara, Costa Rica - another beach town. We were lucky enough to be able to take the InterAmericana for most off the way, meaning we had easy roads for travel. 

We drove partway and reached Carara national park. This park has paths through the jungle where you have a chance to see wildlife and plant life. It's a pretty easy hike, as the paths are paved or graveled, but it is omg hot! Stepping out off the car I could almost immediately feel sweat running down my neck and back. We saw a few iguanas before we even got to the trailhead, then another on the trail as well as monkeys and leaf cutter ants. It probably seems strange that I keep mentioning the ants, but honestly, watching the huge organized trail of ants, each carrying a bit of leaf or flower back to the nest, is fascinating. 

Bubba and I only made it a half mile or so before he was just done. He was hot and tired and didn't care about any more possible animals. He and I headed back to the car so the rest of the family could continue exploring. We sat in the car and played candy crush and bubba had a snack. Still hot, but at least we were parked in the shade and you could get more of a breeze in the open parking lot that in the closed-in jungle.

The others continued on the trek and saw some cool things, including huge mangrove trees, lots of birds, and a lot of woolly caterpillars. They seemed to have a great time. They made it back just as the skies opened up for the afternoon rains. 

We drove for another hour or so then stopped at a restaurant recommended by our hostess in Samara. It had an enormous concrete bull and concrete howler monkey outside. The kids were excited to take pictures with the bull. Older tourists were excited to take picture with the rear of the bull...since it was anatomically correct and disconcertingly well endowed - as was the monkey. 

Costa Rican bbq at that restaurant and it was very good. They even catered to little American children by offering a kids' menu featuring Mac and cheese. Definitely not Kraft - it was delicious! The restaurant also had a great playground to entertain the kids while we waited for the food to come. This was especially appreciated by our kids, who dearly love to work off their energy at a playground and playgrounds are few and far between in CR. There was also an ice cream shop next door, so we treated the kids to a little cone before heading on our way. 

We ended up traveling in the dark for the final part of the trip. We were lucky in this since the road had recently been paved and striped; it was pretty easy driving. The most dangerous part is avoiding the pedestrians. In CR in general, and especially rural areas, everyone walks everywhere. But none of the roads have shoulders and sidewalks are practically unheard of. So there is nowhere to walk but on the edges of the road. It gets dark so early here - fully dark by 6:30 - that people are still out and about at dark. This means that when you are driving at night you have to constantly watch for walkers and bicyclists popping up out of nowhere. And of course there's are always the motorcyclists - many with no lights - or other vehicles with no lights. 

Finally we arrived at the hotel. It's a very nice place, but it's kind of a strange setup. Phyllis and Bob are the owners... Bob seems pretty hands off and leaves it to Phyllis. A grandson is living with them and helping out... don't know if it's permanent or short term. He seems to live in one of the hotel units. There are also some nephews around living in one off the units; again, can't be sure if this is long term or temporary. A sister and brother-in-law have a unit... this seems to be fairly long-term, as the sis supplies the fresh-baked pastries available at breakfast. And then there's grandma - don't know if she's Phyllis mom or Bob's, but she also lives in a unit. And they all just hang around the pool and beach all day. That sends to leave just 2-3 units actually available for guests, which seems very odd. They are all super friendly and nice though.

Phyllis hangs out with the guests on the patio for much of the day, so maybe it's all a setup to give her plenty of new faces to visit with. Whatever the reasons, it's a very nice beach hotel. There is a bedroom with a huge king bed and a queen futon in the living/kitchen area. You have a sink, stove, and small fridge. Plus a toilet room and nice rock-walked shower. The only real downside is the lack of ac, because it is punishingly hot in that little suite. The screened walls to let in breezes and ceiling fans are nowhere near enough to beat back the heat and humidity. The addition of a little window unit would go a long way. 

Outside is a small but very refreshing pool. There are chairs all around the pool where you can sit and relax on the covered patio. The beach is literally yards away. You can hear the surf pounding constantly and it's great to listen to as you try to sleep (in the terrible heat). You just walk down a short path to the beach and at low tide there is lots of sandy beach to play on. Phyllis even provides sand toys to use. 

This is one of the few Costa Rican beaches on the Pacific coast with no dangerous rip tides, so the low waves are great for playing in the water. Phyllis also provides free use of boogie boards, so the kids took a shot at body surfing and boogie boarding and had a blast. The water here is so warm that it's like a bath. Occasionally a bigger wave will wash over you and bring a splash of cooler water from the deeper areas and it's very refreshing. When you're within a hour or two of high tide the waves will finally be high enough to decide to get out of the water - though bigger kids/stronger swimmers could probably play in the waves at almost any time. This wonderful beach has seriously spoiled me for other beaches, it's that fantastic.

Low tide... absolutely perfect for playtime.

The roughest the waves ever got... still ok to play in if you're a little bigger than our kiddos.

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