If you found this blog via a link from a cruising site ~ we did cruise Mexico on our Ocean 49 cat for a season. See the first text box on the right for links to our preparations, trip down Baja, life in Mexico, cruising and trip back up to SoCal. Unfortunately we are back to the grind in the USA...
Our flight was at 8 am and we were 45 minutes away from the airport and had to turn the car in, so headed out before the sun came up. All went well at the airport and I even got to spend the last few thousand colons I had ($4 US)... We had three seats together, but were lucky enough to be on a half empty flight so we could spread out. Our last view of the open air airport of Liberia!
The customs man in the USA asked me, "Well, would you do it again?", to which I answered, "In a heartbeat".
Drove to the next beach North of Cocos, "Playa Hermosa" to try something new.
I read about a few hotels in the guidebooks, and three sounded fine. We ended up at the first one, El Velero Hotel because it was easy and we could get out of the car!
The rooms were fine and had some beautiful woodwork on the ceilings. The rooms were HOT though as they were on the second floor and the air conditioning had been off all day. Quick cold showers solved that problem...
Then the crowbar corkscrew trick of Jim's...
And the last of the mystery bags! Jim got to open several (again, these were not going back home with me, except for the one for our anniversary - a week later)!
His last card...
We had our snacks, including these peanuts. I liked the guy on the bag.
Alan had his "bar-to-go" that made it down to the beach and back up to our room.
The last of our money...
The view of the courtyard on the first floor from where we were on the second floor.
These fabric wall hangings were all along the open air hallway. They included Volcan Arenal and several with frogs!
We walked down to the beach for our last view of the ocean, then back into the restaurant for dinner. This is looking into the restaurant area from the beach. Once again, a great meal! I had mahi mahi.
Can't remember what Jim had...
And Alan had surf and turf.
We had wireless internet connection, so we checked our emails and made a few skype calls. This is how ridiculous we look talking through the internet in a restaurant... Jim talked and I played with this big dog who actually lives next door to the hotel. He was pretty smart to hang out where food gets dropped!
Then off to bed, as we had an early flight the next day...
Enjoyed the rest of the drive along the lake and back down the hill. Saw a girl hitchhiking (which is acceptable in Costa Rica) and stopped to give her a ride. She was very interesting and has lived and traveled all over the world. She is currently working near Arenal at a "holistic theraputic healing type of place" that her father started recently. It was her day off, so she was heading to Liberia to catch a movie and buy some baker's chocolate. We asked if she would mind if we stopped in the town of Canas to look at the mosaic church. So she directed us there and even helped Alan find a head to use in the hardware store! This church was amazing! A local well-known painter and artist, Otto Apuy designed and directed the decorating of this church. It includes some religious and some abstract designs. He used whole and broken tiles.
The benches and parts of the town square were also covered in tiles!
On the highway back to Liberia, Alan decided he wanted to find the "perfect guanacaste tree". I picked this one...
Alan wanted to go back to the Hotel Coco Palms for a few t-shirts and all decided we could buy a few more gifts, so back into Playa del Coco. This is the main street heading down into town.
Then on to Playa Hermosa for our last afternoon and evening in Costa Rica!
We had seen this place on our way up to the Volcano and thought, "What the heck is this place?" (well, it was more like, what the hell, but you get the idea)... So we had to stop! It was before 11:00 am (the time they start serving beer), but the guy made an exception and sold us three beers. This place was cool! The front area is something out of an old western movie, complete with saddles and oxen yokes!
We couldn't make the disco / western movie connection and must have looked stumped. So the owner told us to "go check out the disco" and walk up the stairs and up the path. Whoa - this place is a trip! There must have been a million rocks used. There were dance floors, bars, seats, overlooks and little rooms all over. Even a disco ball! We were told that on Saturday afternoons / evenings it is a disco - they have entertainment and all the locals come for the party (another reason to come back). We weren't hungry, but the food smelled great, so we ordered a plate to go to split later. There was a stone oven with a fire going down below and the owner cooked the food up above. He insisted I take a picture of him putting our meat on the grill!
Having an Imperial beer while waiting for our food to cook. Said our goodbyes and headed the rest of the way around the lake. The area is known for a lot of wind. There must have been 50 or 60 of these giant wind generators on the West end of the lake.
We got up early as our "plans" were to hike around the lava flows in Arenal National Park. After looking at the map and seeing the length of the hike, we figured we didn't have enough time to do the hike and the drive back to the Liberia / Playa Hermosa area. So we decided to "shop til we dropped"! But first our included breakfast at Hotel Arenal Manoa. I made the mistake of not taking my camera with me (a first!). The food was great and once again, the presentation was incredible! Oh well, guess we have to go back someday... Our maid had made us towel sculptures the day before, a snail for us and an elephant for Alan, so Jim left our spare Costa Rican change as a tip (along with the lantern). I liked his creativity!
We stopped at the front desk to check out and let them know how much we enjoyed our stay, what a wonderful place they have, and that they have awesome chefs and a great staff! Then back along the lake to our first shopping stop "Toad Hall". The shop had a great selection of items made by local artists along with a nice view of the lake out the back. We were told they have excellent food in their restaurant too (next time). Alan, Jim & I all picked out some gifts (and a few things for ourselves). Then on down the road.
Many of the hotels and homes along the road have beautiful landscaping between the buildings and the road. I had to stop to see these flowers. Three dogs didn't like that I was there, so we quickly kept going! Next shopping stop "Lucky Bug"!
Another great shop with individual artists' creations. I loved these sinks!
After the major souvenir shopping, hiking and exploring it was time to head back to the lovely Hotel Arenal Manoa. I did forget to pack the ever important corkscrew... but the rental car crowbar served as a great double!
And also time to open a few more of the remaining mystery bags. The first one:
And the result of the mystery bag! We walked up the road to the restaurant in the dark like this... Luckily we were the only people around! The waitresses loved it! They had to try them on, but were laughing too hard to get the "stay still and don't move" instructions for a clear picture... They were both so cute and nice - they were having as much fun as we were.
And then the dinner! WOW - talk about presentation! Take a look at my Thai soup!
Polynesian Chicken! And Jim's tenderloins of something or other!
The food was great!! We ended up walking back into the kitchen and giving Alba and her two lovely lady helpers a round of applause! Then they had fun with the glow in the dark glasses.
We left the glow in the dark glasses for the ladies to play with and headed back to our room for a final mystery bag and a glass of wine. This lantern was in a bag labeled "for a dark night". It made a great night light as we sat on our patio watching a tiny red glow at the top of the volcano and the toads waiting in the grass.
We cruised Mexico's West Coast for 3 years on our prior boat, "Thistle" a Columbia 50. Went back to California in 2000 and bought the "new boat" in 2004. We then spent a year and a half cruising in Mexico. We just did the "Baja Bash" ~ sailed up the outside of Baja and returned to SoCal! We are We are now back to work for awhile...
A thought we say to ourselves everyday:
"You'll only regret the things you didn't do".
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~ Mark Twain
"Life is either a daring adventure or Nothing." ~ Helen Keller
"A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for." ~ John A. Shedd
"Make it happen." ~ Alan Burg of the sailing vessel Toshal
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the places and moments that take our breath away." ~ Anonymous
“Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.” ~ Rabbi Hyman Schachtel
"Make 'someday' today." ~ From inside a Dove candy wrapper