Costa Rica… (Part 2)

Conservation areaWhile San José is nice, it is NOT the reason anyone comes to Costa Rica!  It is a landing and jumping off point… that’s about it.

There is a relatively new highway that takes you from San José westward to the Pacific Ocean and the town of Jacó.  Via this highway, it should only take you about 60 – 90 minutes to get there.  But if you take the old road (aka the only road, prior to 2010) it can take twice as long, but be well worth the time!  Along the old road, which twist its way through the countryside along the sides of mountains, in and out of valleys and small towns and villages, there is a wealth of interesting things to see and potential places to stop for some authentic food or unique, hand crafted items to take home as a reminder of the warm people and beautiful country you’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.  And that’s no cute colloquialism! Everything about Costa Rica truly is a pleasure! FYI, we took the old Roadside CafeGallo PintoCoffee beansroad… in case you were wondering.  If you’re not sure which you should take, just flip a coin and stick with what you get (No “do-overs” or any of that best 2 out of 3 crap!).  BTW, there are several toll booths along the new highway, so make sure you have colones (Costa Rican currency), including plenty of coins!

Pacific Ocean view from roadside cafe

Pacific Ocean view from roadside cafe

We stopped at a little roadside café at the crest of one of the coastal mountains we were traveling through, around, over, whatever.  From it, we could see the Pacific Ocean in the distance as we were surrounded by coffee bushes/trees and other lush greenery.  The people inside, both patrons and workers seemed entranced by our son with his bright blue eyes and blonde cherub-like hair.  I don’t know which was better, the people or the food!  Both were warm and inviting. Some of the pictures here were taken at the café.

Overlooking the fincaFinca 1BromiliasVanessa’s father owns some land about 20-25 minutes outside of (before) Jacó.   They call it a finca.  Loosely translated, it means an estate or farm, depending on who you ask, although it doesn’t exactly fit into what you may think of when those words are uttered.  What it is is a little slice of paradise!  Basically, it is several acres of mango trees with a small home and a pool.  It’s all you could ever want or need!  Nothing to fancy, but why on earth do you need fancy?!  The house is located on the highest point of his property, affording some beautiful views of the surrounding land and the ocean in the Finca living...Finca swimming...Finca 2distance.

Jacó (in North Puntarenas) is a place where you can find an abundance of American surfers, prostitution (yes, it’s legal here), and other seedy elements you may not want to experience.  This place truly suffers from American-itis, making it my least favorite place to be.  I’m an American and proud to be as well. However, there are times when I’d just as soon hang my head, hide or pretend I weren’t!  It’s not because of America…it’s because of some Americans!  If you want to see these types, or maybe you are one (I hope not) then Jacó is the place to go and stay!

Marriot-Los Sueños 2Marriott-Los Sueños 1About 5 miles before you reach Jacó, is Bahia Herradura, the site of the Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort.  Awesome location.  Excellent service.  Incredibly affordable prices!  What more can I say?  Actually, there’s a lot to say!  The pool was huge and yet very private at the same time due to the layout.  Devan was just beginning to get acclimated to the water (being only a year old) and had lots of fun, as did we with him.  Our room was super nice, very clean and ultra comfortable.  The restaurants had great variety and were very high quality as well having multiple seating options to fit every want or need.  Los Sueños even had a babysitting service, which we reluctantly utilized… twice!

Devan swimmingMarriott-Los Sueños 4Marriott-Los Sueños 8Marriott-Los Sueños 5

Marriott-Los Sueños 3Marriott-Los Sueños 6The first time we utilized the sitter service (the staff was great!) was to treat ourselves to a massage at the Sibö Rainforest Spa & Retreat (it was my first time doing something like that…and my last, to date) there at Los Sueños.  Wow!  It was really nice!  But to be honest, it was a little weird lying on a table 5 feet from my wife, as another woman was rubbing me down into such a deep state of relaxation that I began feeling a little bit tense… Next subject!

Canopy 1Canopy 3For our other sitter session, we were gone for about 2 hours to Vista Los Sueños Canopy Tour, a nearby zip-line adventure.  If it’s possible, even just remotely possible, go do this!  These companies do a really great job of maximizing your adventure, while minimizing the effect on the environment.  They’re very thorough in the training they give to the adventurers (that means you!) and strictly adhere to a no litter-no foreign object being brought into the area policy.  You bring yourselves and your cameras, but that’s about it.  I like that rule!

Canopy 2Canopy 5The thrill of going down a zip-line through the canopy of the rainforest is incredible!  I won’t even try to describe it.  I’d be wasting yours and my time.  Instead, I’ll simply reiterate… Go do this!  In addition to the fun of cruising through the rainforest in a harness on a steel cable, you’ll more than likely see your fair share of wildlife all around you!  It truly is spectacular!  So, just pay attention to the instructions you’re given and whatever you do… don’t hold anything back!  If you’re timid, your experience will be as well.  The more committed you are to putting your all into it, you know… letting it all hang out, the better time you’ll have and the more enriching it will prove to be !  Wow!  Sort of sounds to me like how we should all strive to live our lives each and every day!  Maybe I’ll try to a bit more often.

The next installment (Part 3) will feature the awesome Manuel Antonio National Park as well as the river, waterfalls (cataratas) and rainforest that lead down to it!  Stay tuned!

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