Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Costa Rica Recap: Day 9

Started the morning with a lovely couple of hours at the Samara beach. It really is the best beach I've ever been to. The water is soft and warn with just slap of cool every so often. The tide was still quite high when we went out to play, but even then the waves were gentle enough for the kids go out on the boogie boards. Ry and I spent time building sand castles and letting them wash away and we did some wading out to deeper water. At this beach the flat sand stretches out for a long ways without sloping our dropping off so you can wade far out into the waves without the water getting much deeper than waist to shoulder height on an adult. Rylen and I waded quite a ways out and it was only chest deep on him.

There are two levels of beach sand... higher up the sand is composed of tiny little rocks. They're all rounded and not at all painful to walk on. They are very deep, though, so it can be hard to get your footing as the rocks slip beneath your feet. This is especially true if you're standing on the rock sand when a wave washes in ... It's like standing in quicksand at that point as the rock sand just disappears beneath your feet and you sink and possibly fall.

It's better when you move out to the hard-packed silty sand. It's almost like mud, but not quite quite. It's easy to walk on and fun to run through your fingers or bury your toes. Then you can sit or stand and let the waves rush over you.

After we forced ourselves away from the water and cleaned up, we packed our things into the car for the transfer to our next area: Monte Verde and Santa Elena. Phyllis came out to see us on our way. She was an excellent hostess and I would definitely stay there again... I just would insist on the deluxe unit with ac.

We stopped in town to pick up our clean laundry and grab some breakfast/lunch. Excellent Tico food as usual. The kids picked out some small souvenirs at a local stand and now we're of to deal with the crazy drivers on the road again.

The road to Santa Elena is what I've come to think of as Costa Rican standard: very steep and winding, not quite 2 lanes wide, and intermittently paved. You climb so far up into the mountains that you can see hours back behind you and see the ocean and coast on the horizon. It's incredibly verdant and green, even for Costa Rica. Greenery clusters over the road so thickly at times that no light reaches the road. The mountains are steep and fall away dizzyingly from the road with little to no barrier between you and a frightening emptiness.

It's only 26 miles from Las Juntas at the bottom of the road to Santa Elena at the top, but the road conditions mean that you're lucky to drive 15-20 kmh. We are in hopes that the high temperatures will drop some at higher elevation. So far we have dropped from 31 C - 28 C. Fingers crossed it will continue to drop.

We are currently stuck behind an enormous luxury bus that takes up 3/4 of the road. We thought it was crazy when a small bus... kind of the size of a large airport shuttle... had to squeeze post the huge bus. Then the bus met another huge tour bus on its way down! I have no idea how they managed to squeeze past each other... each of them partially tipped off their respective sides of the road and there was barely room to slip a paperback between the two buses at the center.

Still climbing higher and higher on this tiny road carved from the jungle on the steep side of the mountain... And suddenly we pass a jogger? Who is this crazy person and how far did she have to jog to get here to the middle of nowhere?

The views off the mountainside are incredible! Steep mountains and rolling hills, all with a covering of smooth green velvet. Exuberant bursts of green trees thrusting above the general canopy level. Occasional pops of white from cows grazing... how they keep their footing on the steep hillsides I don't know.

The road has a few ups and downs now... When it goes down it's at a steep blind hill and you have to take it on faith that the road actually exists after you go over the top. 22 degrees C now.

Hillsides around us are slightly gentler now and dotted with houses ranging from very nice to tin and concrete shacks... but almost every one boasts a bright orange Claro satellite dish.

After reaching the town we drove all over trying to find our hotel. It was very hard to locate with the sketched map we had received but we finally stumbled across some signs that lead us to the cabinas. The setting was gorgeous. Beautiful flower gardens everywhere, small hiking trails around the cabins, trees and greenery everywhere you look. Just so pretty. The cabins themselves are red and slightly run down. Very Tico typical construction. I'd have had no trouble with any of that, but the cabin was just a bit dirty around the edges, with plenty of spider webs in corners and grit on tile floors. But it was really large, 2 big bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen area with fridge, microwave, stove... 2 double beds and 2 twin beds. And only $90/night, so I won't complain too much.

The kids loved it because they were able to run wild and explore all around the cabina. There were several small hiking paths on the property. Haley took possession of the camera and went looking for things to photograph.

After getting settled in, we went in search of dinner. We found a friendly little soda with fantastic food. Before even finishing the meal we had decided to come back to eat here again. Back to the hotel and everyone to bed. 

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