Between the time that Mark left and our next visitors were expected to arrive, Eric and I decided to explore the west coast of the mainland. We ended up in Manuel Antonio and were happy we did. We rented a tiny, little studio for the four day period. Small deserted beaches were just a short walk away and we enjoyed watching the monkeys and birds every day while we cooked, hung out and took a mandatory dip in the pool each afternoon.
On June 10th we picked up Matt and Molly in San Jose. They had a hell of a trip getting to us, including having to run to catch their connecting flight, so we were more than happy to see them walk out of the arrival gates with smiles on their faces! We all loaded into Pedro, Matt sat shotgun with Eric and Molly and I caught up on life in the back. The drive to the Caribbean coast was rainy but the roads were fine. Many people had been warning us not to travel to the east coast due to the heavy rainfall this year but we made it without an issue.
The home we rented was in Playa Chiquita, just a quick bike ride south of Puerto Viejo. The house was beautiful and spacious, a perfect spot to soak up 10 amazing days of family time. Also, more importantly it was located about 20 feet from Alice’s ice cream bar. The vibe of the Caribbean was great. The town of Puerto Viejo had a lot of fun shops, restaurants and bars, while Playa Chiquita was much smaller with its own great handful of offerings. The area was still under the tourist influence but lacked the large hotel and resort scene and had a laid back atmosphere. We spent our days relaxing in the house or walking along the beach, interspersed with bike rides to town or to the market, and a daily four o’clock piña colada, or three. Every night we would pick a place to eat either near Playa Chiquita or in Puerto Viejo, and luckily we were never disappointed with the meals we had. Our evenings were spent playing intense games of spades. The more piña coladas equaled the more nil’s Eric seemed to call.
Besides a lot of down time we slipped in a mini trip to a nearby waterfall, complete with cold cocos at the end. Also, we decided to do a zip line excursion. Since we signed up the same afternoon as the tour, it ended up just being the six of us. It was a blast to be with one another and enjoy the tour without any other tourists! The last activity that we did was the jaguar rescue center in the area. Although there were no jaguars, they had a lot of other local animals, who had been injured or rescued and were being prepped to be released back into their natural habitat.
Other highlights of the trip include the rescue of a poisonous frog from our bedroom, Molly’s secret karaoke talent being revealed, morning croissants provided by Tish, brother pool raft races, the install of a new horn which only works by the flip of a switch, finding a plant growing inside Pedro (we should sweep more often) and the family of at least 20 howler monkeys travelling across the yard. Overall, we were so pleased that Eric’s parents, Tish and Dirk, and Matt and Molly came to visit and spend their vacation with us! It’s always refreshing to spend time with family and gave us a little boost on the road.
Once we dropped off our visitors we headed right back to the Caribbean coast for two more nights. Our friends, Nicole and Gordo, were staying at a campsite in Puerto Viejo and we happily met up with them for beers and cocktails. We heard that the border on the east side of the country was simpler so we made our plan to cross at Sixaola-Guabito, lucky over the new bridge, rather than the old railroad track option. Here’s to our next country and the last before Pedro sails to Colombia!