Here’s the thing about being someone who tends to get a good deal done each day: your days become longer when you have less to do, so much so that a single day can quickly become several. Case in point: our first full day in Puerto Viejo.
Day 3.1: Breakfast. The hotel provides a buffet and an assortment of food each morning. The open-air lobby makes it easy to pop down for a cup of coffee and a pre-breakfast snack while I get to work, tapping along on my computer and satisfying the obsessively productive part of my brain for the first few hours of the morning. (Technology — how lucky we are to be alive right now.) When I finally indulged in a plate of food… good golly. I ate the absolute best pineapple of my life. From that moment, I’ve limited myself to only a few slices each day, so as not to reduce my mouth to a tenderized pulp. Some light reading, another cup of coffee, and sunscreen.
Day 3.2: Playa Cocles. This beach is known for its great waves and some swimming areas, and it’s a mere 2km away from our hotel. An easy enough walk to start the day. Just a few minutes down the road and across 30 feet of greenery, and you arrive. (There are access points all along the coastline; you can easily see the waves from most points along the road.) The beach is relatively quiet in the morning, and surfers are out from the start until the end of the day. Cam found a good reading spot, and I headed to the water for a walk to explore the shoreline. The water is bathwater-warm. For those who aren’t aware, my two favorite states in this world include being 1) warm, and 2) warm in warm water. Perfection. We’d not planned for an extended stay on the sand at that point, so it was back to town for a little while for provisions.
Day 3.3: Fruit Smoothies. You haven’t had fruit until you’ve been to the tropics. A soda (small store) across from the hotel offered an assortment of drinks and smoothies, all with beach seating. Don’t mind if we do. I opted for a pineapple/coconut smoothie, which arrived several minutes later in a small jar with a straw and sugared rim. (There was no line, but the drinks took a while — not that we minded. You could hear the fruit being prepped in the kitchen, and the ambiance is saturated with relaxation.) We chatted, watching families swimming and children fishing in the shallow waters. A bit of a sugar boost was just what the doctor ordered. It must be getting late, I thought. Time check: 11:40am. Vacation is the BEST.
Day 3.4: Playa Cocles 2: Wave-Soaked Boogaloo. Back to the hotel for a thorough sunscreen application, swimsuits, towels, books, and dropping off of valuables. (Things seem pretty safe here, but it’s best not to take that for granted.) The sandbar goes several meters out into the waves, so even poor swimmers like yours truly can enjoy the waters safely. We snagged a shady space as a home base and alternated between reading, swimming, drying off, and people-watching. I’d had my reservations in the past, but the beach bum life is not a bad one, friends.
Day 3.5: Refuel…ish. It seemed about time for food y un cervesa, so back to town we trekked. Surprisingly, we weren’t quite as tired of being in the water as initially anticipated, so I hopped into the pool for a swim. My doubt upon initial sight of the pool — why would you swim here when the beach is 150 feet away? — was quickly laid to rest. My apologies, Mr. Morrisey. An Imperial and a strawberry cookie later, and it was time to dress for the next grand adventure.
Day 3.6: Cover Bands. Dinner found us in the middle of downtown Puerto Viejo, just a few blocks from our home base. The town isn’t especially large, and most establishments are based off a couple of main drags. Interesting side note: addresses here include instructions rather than building numbers, generally listed with a street name and some reference to another establishment, like “28 Caviente [the street number & name], 150 metres from Amimodo Ristorante.”
Taking my preferred approach to just about any city, we let our ears steer us, ultimately landing at Tamara’s. The restaurant is a micro-enterprise built up over the course of a few decades, beginning as a small fruit stand funded and supported by area friends and family. It has grown to a sizable, brightly colored restaurant with lodging upstairs and a rotating series of buskers who occupy a central playing space. We were treated to both a ukulele player and a small group with a drum, tub-bass, and guitar. Dinner was a tremendously tender ceviche, rondon (a spicy coconut soup), shrimp picadillo for Cam, and passionfruit daquiris.
Oddest in this mix was the obnoxiously loud sound coming from another bar around the corner–much larger in size, more alcohol-centric, and with plenty of funds invested in their sound system. A cover band was playing anything but what I would expect in this location: pop/rock hit after pop/rock hit, each topping the other. Spiderwebs. Rolling in the Deep. I Heard It Through the Grapevine. Don’t Stop Believin’. How very out of context this music seems.
At least I know that, were I to move here with SRP, we would definitely have a place to play.
Day 3.7: Moonlight in Costa Rica. It just so happened that our second night was set to be a full moon, and the day’s luck held out enough to give us perfectly clear skies. Another trek back to Playa Cocles, and we sat to admire the shine of the moon off the breakers.
Grab a friend. Head to Playa Cocles in the moonlight (which, this time of year, rises around 7pm for you early-to-bed types). Breathe deep.