Pacific Coast and Villa Caletas
August 4, 2003
This morning we left Arenal to go to the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Since we had the four wheel drive, we decided to take the long way around the lake so as not to backtrack. The road was in very poor condition, with lots of enormous potholes. We were tooling along though a fairly deserted, heavily forested area when suddenly I thought I saw a monkey in the road! I pointed it out to David and he slowed down. The animal saw us, and instead of running it loped toward us, right down the center of the road. As it came closer, I could see it wasn't a monkey, but a coati, a close relative to the raccoon. He came right up the the window and was so tame, he obviously expected us to feed him from the car. It made me very sad to see this animal begging by the side of the road. At the same time, a car with four young Spanish (yes, from Spain) guys drove up and stopped their car. On of them got out and to feed him cookies! This broke my heart to see this wild animal standing on his two back legs begging for cookies. At that point we just had to go.
Along the way, we stopped at a place called Toad Hall in the tiny town of Union for lunch. This place was highly recommend by the Lonely Planet for having excellent macadamia nut brownies. Very nice place owned by a woman from Colorado . Not only to they have a nice restaurant with a fantastic view of the lake, but they have a gift shop with local handicrafts. I had an herb roasted chicken sandwich on macadamia foccacia bread with white wine aioli and a tomato and arugula salad. David had a grilled vegetable sandwich with melted gouda and a papaya banana smoothie. With a big piece of homemade chocolate cake for dessert, lunch was yummy , but pricey, at $22.
It rained nonstop last two hours of the ride to Villa Caletas near Puenta Leona, north of Jaco (pronounced Ha-ko). Villa Caletas is a stunning hotel, and our room was amazing. All of the bungalows have an incredible amount of privacy. From the balcony that spanned the length of the room, we could not see another soul, or any other room for that matter. Our bungalow is huge with one wall of glass leading out onto balcony with private jacuzzi and a panoramic view of jungle below leading to gulf of Nicoya. It has a huge bathroom with big walk in shower, no tub. Nice touches, like antique furniture pieces and a coffee maker with packets of Cafe Britt. The grounds of the compound are beautiful, overflowing will all sorts of flowers and after the rain, the sounds of the cicadas is almost deafening. We had a very long walk down steps to room and of course, that meant a long walk up steps to the restaurant area. We always arrived at the top, sweating. Small price to pay. That night, we had dinner in hotel due to the downpour. It wasn't bad, not nearly as bad as I'd read. Excellent service, expensive menu.
August 5, 2003
Today was a day of rest. This was supposed to be our vacation, after all. Before breakfast we went in the hot tub, and that's a mighty fine way to start the day. Our breakfast, included in room package, was whatever we wanted to order from the menu. We had the "American breakfast" which is huge with coffee, juice, nice fruit plate, eggs bacon, and pastries. If you're paying, get one and share. After breakfast we went into the town of Jaco to go to the Mas X Menos grocery store to get snacks and sodas and found an internet cafe to check our email. We had lunch at the Banana Cafe which was decent, but seemed to take forever even though we were the only ones there. In Jaco, we discover the Serenity Spa in town is the same spa as at our hotel, but 30-40% cheaper than having the treatments done at the hotel and decide we'll have to come back sometime in the next few days.
On the way back to Villa Caletas, we stopped at the Marriot Los Suenos to check out their golf course. David was going through golf withdrawal. It turned out to be very expensive to play, especially for non guests. The price drops after 2 PM, but that's when the rain starts every day. So, 18 holes plus rentals would have been $100. With that, we opt to go to the driving range which was only $15 for clubs, cart and a bucket of balls. I attempt to hit golf balls for first time. David says I have potential, but the 100% humidity is almost too much to take. We go back to our room for an air conditioned nap. That afternoon, a coati came onto our balcony looking for food, sniffed around, and gave himself a bath.
Villa Caletas has an amphitheater attached to it's bar. At sunset, this is a very popular spot for cocktails, both for guests of the hotel, and others in the area. They sometimes hold classical music concerts there as well. That night we had a stunning sunset with monks chanting rock and roll over the sound system.
Later we drove back to Jaco for dinner at little local place called Soda Flor. A "soda" is a small restaurant, sort of like a diner. I had casado de pescado (mahi/dorado very fresh, black beans, rice, plantains) and David had "pinki" shrimp in butter, a modified scampi. Basic but very good. Dinner was less than $10, including a gelato down the street. When we got back to the room, we saw a huge iguana leap from a tree to roof of our balcony.
Pacific Coast Photos
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last updated on 3/25/04