Puerto Viejo has officially made Alajuela look lame. I didn’t think that was possible.
We rented a bus for the weekend to take us to Puerto Viejo. It was a five and a half hour ride there, all of us on a big old bus riding through Costa Rica. The driver was blasting Spanish music and the scenery was absolutely amazing, I didn’t need my iPod once. The towns are just so different from what I’m used to, all the colorful shops and signs and the fenced-in houses. We drove through the mountains on a tiny two-lane road where cars were whipping past us at maybe 50 mph while we were on the edges of cliffs. Kristen wore her seatbelt on the bus and held onto the front of the chair the whole time we were in the mountains, and for good reason. The roads were really winding, and the drivers are a little nuts. They’ll pass whenever and wherever…basically anything is fair game here in terms of the law, and that doesn’t apply just to driving. We all agreed the bus ride was just surreal, riding through all these towns and through the rainforest and the mountains and over rivers with 28 people who have never experienced anything like this and probably never will again.
There is no sense of time here, but we got to Puerto Viejo sometime after dark. I’m not even sure how to describe our hotel, so I’ll just show some pictures. It was like a little jungle town of its own. Everything was in separate buildings, like everything else here.
Our suite was colorful and had a balcony that looked out on our “private pool”, and we had a TV for the first time on this trip (which obviously only had Spanish channels, but the boys were watching the NBA playoffs both nights). Elise and I took the bunk beds, and Lisa and Steph took the big bed.
The pool was surrounded by palm trees and felt like bathwater, it was so warm. It seemed a little excessive to have a pool when the ocean was right across the street, but it was gorgeous (and helped to get the sand off before going in the suite, so that was nice.)
The hotel was owned by Italians, and they had an Italian restaurant attached to it – bruschetta for 1000 colones (2 dollars) and great thin-crust pizza. I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't think I'd want Italian food in Costa Rica, but the bruschetta was almost as good as my mom's.
But the best part of the restaurant was mangoes – it was 2 dollars for a sliced mango and I was in heaven.
Eating mangoes outside by the beach under the sun...seriously one of my favorite things to do. And Costa Rica mangoes are a million times better than anything I’ve ever had in the United States. I’ve had so much fruit since I’ve been here, everything in the U.S. is going to just taste fibrous and bland when I get back. I don’t even know how to describe how good the mangoes taste, but in my heaven, they will be there.
Our hotel was about a 15-minute walk from downtown. The whole city of Puerto Viejo is the most laid-back reggae town I’ve ever visited. Everyone is so chill, the music is so relaxing and it’s a huge surfing area, so people just smoke, drink, surf and tan.
We were bussed to dinner at a bar/restaurant halfway between the hotel and downtown. Every meal here takes forever. A lot of it has to do with the fact we’re with a 30-person group, but everyone is so laid back that “fast food” doesn’t exist. Our dinner took at least 2 and a half hours. I ordered casado con camarones, which is shrimp with rice and beans (two things that are eaten at every meal, even breakfast). But I ate for maybe five minutes before I started feeling so sick, I couldn’t sit there anymore. Again, like everything else, the restaurant was half-outside. Even though the sun was down, it was really hot and humid. I was just super uncomfortable, nauseous, and couldn’t deal with it anymore…so Kristen and Alex walked me home and I didn’t go out with the group that night. They all went to a beachfront bar, but I stayed at the hotel. It was really weird – I took cold showers for 10 minutes, then I’d get out and start sweating again, then shaking. I was just so physically uncomfortable I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’ve been a little sick this last week, I guess, but I think I must have had a fever or something. Anyway, I finally went to bed after aiming the fan at my face and getting a little cooled off, but since we only had one room key I had to wake up when Elise, Lisa and Steph got back from the bar. I felt a little better, so I walked outside to see what the group was doing. They were all taking a night swim in the pool, but they got kicked out by the “management” – a middle-aged guy only wearing the tightest tighty-whiteys I’ve ever seen. He had an Italian accent and was yelling at them to all get out of the pool…so we decided to walk across the street to the ocean. He followed us across the street, still in his underwear. You’re going to die if you go in there, he said with a heavy accent. You can’t go in the ocean at night. I’m going to call the cops.
Nobody really listened, but he kept saying, You’re going to die if you go in the ocean right now, probably assuming we were all drunk, stupid Americans. He was mostly right. And we finally just went back across the street, though I guess a few people still snuck back to the ocean later. I went back to bed. And that was my Friday…I wish the night would have gone a little better for me, but at least I feel better now.
I’ll write about Saturday later. It was definitely the best day we’ve had in Costa Rica so far. Shopping, tanning, surfing, and just living on the beach. Basically...all of my favorite things.
Unfortunately, I have to research my essay and start writing it now – it’s due Friday, and we’ll be gone all day tomorrow because we’re going to the Arenal volcano and hot springs. This has been the coolest three-day weekend of my life.