Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Puerto Viejo - The Caribbean Coast

We had been wanting to go to the caribbean coast and the long holiday weekend was a perfect excuse. There are so many cute beaches on the Caribbean and it is a totally different feel than the pacific coast. Taking one additional day off from work really made this trip seem long. Ernesto bought our bus tickets on Thursday just in case it was full for the holiday. Maureen also wanted to take off a day early, and Ricardo ended up surprising us at the bus stop at 5:15am. The bus was comfortable, although it didn't have a bathroom. This worried me. We settled in and were happy to be on the road. We each had an ipod, and the four hour trip went by in a flash. We only made one stop in Limon, 2.5 hours from San Jose and one hour from Puerto Viejo. Here we got out to have a stretch….and a bathroom break.
The bus let us off in the center of town, and we had a little walk to what would be our home for the next 4 days…Rocking J’s.
Besides hearing about Rocking J’s from some co-workers, I had checked the website and thought, wow! This is going to be an experience! Right upon check-in we stared in awe. “Somethin’ different”
The whole place is mosaic, which I really appreciated (being a former mosaic artist myself) or painted by former guests. It was a huge estate and had many different communal "hang out spaces" including a big grass space with lounge chairs. We especially liked the sign near the check-in desk, painted in white letters: "Prohibido fumar marijuana en esta propiedad, porfavor vaya a la playa. "
Translation: “It's prohibited to smoke marijuana on this property, please go out to the beach.”
Welcome to the Hammock Hotel! Yep, this was our "room", an open air structure with about 50 or so hammocks hanging in a row.
They handed us our keys, a sheet and a wristband and that was it! We each had a locker by our hammock which was was made out of metal. Here Maureen, Neto and Ricardo stand by theirs.
Now, I have stayed in A LOT of hostels, but this was absolutely the craziest place I have ever stayed! Not only was there another hammock hotel, (so 2 structures with at least 50 hammocks) but you could also rent a 2 man tent for $10, a dorm bed for $8, or cabin for $20.
There must have been at least 300 people staying at this place all sharing bathrooms and showers. It was kept suprisingly clean. (I still wore my flip-flops in the shower, even though Im not a germa-phobe)
Muereen, Ernesto and I gave ourselves a little budget challenge….$100/pp for the weekend. Can you imagine only spending $100 for 4 days at the beach? Yes, a crazy goal, but we did pretty well……and what was the major saver? $5 hammocks. It was a great location, right on the beach. It was very rocky, as you can see, so not great for swimming, but it was pretty and we were able to hear the waves crashing at night.
We were also able to hear many other noises while at the hammock hotel.....as you can imagine when sleeping with 50 other people in the same “room” (more to come on that)
Puerto Viejo is a very cute little town, very easy to walk everywhere, but even more fun to bike, which is what most people do. This is a LAID BACK town, you really can tell you are on the Caribbean coast. The streets are filled with unique restaurants and bars, most playing reggae music! Although I ate casados (like I do everyday in San Jose) they had a different style of beans and rice, and also a coconut curry chicken, a specialty of the Caribbean. Also, in light of our $100 budget, it was the cheapest way to go. Our favorite place was only 2000 colones ($4) and as an added bonus, it was right beside the organic coffee place "Caribbeans" and next to that the homemade ice cream parlor. We just went right down the line. mmmmmmmmm
We rented bikes everyday for $5 a day and that was our transportation. This was perfect because #1 we were able to check out several beaches, and #2 we got plenty of exercise. Here we are at the entrance of RJ's ready to go....notice the surfboard in the background! Too cool!Our first day we rode just 5 minutes down the road to a beach called Cocles. Ernesto and Ricardo rented boogie boards and had a great time, there were some good waves. It looked like fun, but Maureen and I just relaxed on the beach.
We were so tired that first night, I think we were in our hammocks before 10pm.
I slept really well despite all the noise. Maureen and Ernesto woke me up talking at 430am….really they were snickering. Maureen had to go to the bathroom, but didn’t want to get up…"why?” Oh... because 2 people were having sex in the “common area” right above the bathrooms. When I turned my head, sure enough, there was a little peep show going on. If only my camera had not been in my locker I would’ve snapped a shot. HA! See the "APESHIT" on the door? That is the bathroom, and right above that on the wood bench was the “bed.” Yes, yes it IS right out in the open. Did they think no one would see? My guess is that they didn't really think it through.......We got so many laughs out of Rocking J’s. "A very interesting place," Maureen kept saying. Here she is doing her morning routine at the communal bathroom. It took some getting used to, but by day 3, we had it down.
The next day we wanted to go a bit further on the bikes and Punta Uva beach was worth the 6k bike ride. Plus we made a pit stop to a little beach on a trail.
Ernesto got a coconut from one of the trees and cracked it open.
Ahhh fresh coconut milk (really it is more like water) very refreshing!
I felt like I could ride forever, yes it was hot, but it felt good. Plus we knew we would be jumping in the ocean when we arrived.
We wrode along and there was a little hotel or restuarant every 5 minutes or so. Then we passed a palapa (palm branch hut) with nothing else around.... It cracked me up....I had to stop and take a picture. It was a WI-FI palapa. There were several people sitting there with their laptops in the middle of the jungle.....when you just gotta have internet!!! For some reason, it made me think of my dad. He would be here. "Sports. Baseball"Punta Uva was a long beach and we hung out there most of the time. Ernesto and I did a Cross-Fit on the beach. (run 400m in the sand as fast as you can....3x) It sucked! ...But then we jumped in the water, and it felt so good! Neto and I rented kayaks for $5 and that was a blast.. There were about 5 of us waiting to ride the waves. The waves.....came in waves.
Here is Neto in a tranquil shot! After my cross-fit and an hour of kayaking, I was tired and ready to chill.
Ernesto stopped at RJ's to shower and Maureen and I continued into town on the bikes to get our casado for dinner and ice cream too. Maureen was feeling a bit lazy since she didnt do the crossfit, so we went walking for an hour after dinner. Ernesto HAD to find the OSU game...and he did, it was playing at the Sunset bar. We met him there around half-time. Luckily Ricardo was there, and Dean and Lina, a couple we met staying at RJ's who are from Austraila came too. So that was cool he had some guys to talk shit with. As you can see, I am not in the same sports mind-frame as he is! What wasn't cool was the final score of the game. Neto was a little sad afterwards.
Lina and Dean (far left) are traveling the world for one year, they are on their 8th month! Ahhh, one day!! They have a blog with their itinerary and highlights of the trip. Also pictured, Maureen, Kate (who drove in with my boss Steve and his family that day) Ricardo, and me and Neto. Most of the time the girls were off to the side, having....girl talk! That night we made our way through almost every bar that was open.....and found a couple great reggae bars, and one live salsa band in a tiny little bar that felt like how I imagine Cuba...
Ahhhhh, another morning after a good night sleep....2am-6am, that's enough right?
The next day we biked to Punta Uva again and met Steve and his family there.
We were going to meet them for a beach bonfire, but by the time we ate dinner and got our ice cream for dessert, we were so tired and had no energy to ride our bikes anymore. The hammocks were calling our names.
Our last day we wanted to check out a beach even further away called Manzanillo. Also, Steve has been talking about Maxi's on the beach for great seafood. It is a little beach town and the road runs right into Maxi's...straight ahead, we couldn't miss it! It was an hour bike ride and Maureen, Neto and I decided we could break the budget with this last meal! We had done so well, but we were right at the limit of $100, and quite frankly we didn't give a damn anymore!! Maureen and I ordered whole grilled red snapperNeto got the ribs, and we had ceviche, patacones (fried plantains) and cervezas to start! We deserved it...and it was well worth breaking the bank!
Stuffed and satisfied, we got back on our bikes for the hour ride back to Puerto Viejo. (I love this paint color) ....it was 2:20 and our bus left at 4pm. We returned the bikes and took quick showers....sad, but it was our last shower at Rocking J's. Too bad we were leaving. They were having a toga party that night. If you wore the sheet they give you for the hammock....all you can drink for 1000 colones ($2). OH GOD! Imagine the craziness! I can sleep through almost anything!

We arrived home smoothly and safely on a beautiful Monday evening. Have I told you lately that I love it here?

1 comment:

  1. You are the craziest chick I know...Love Rockin' j's! Keep up the fun. I'm hooked. :)


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