One of the things that we were hoping to do during our retirement was take mini-vacations to other parts of the country. Owning a home with a Property Manager makes it affordable to do so. It helps pay for our vacation.
We were interested in seeing the beaches of Guanacaste so we made the close to 5 hour trip to our first accommodation at Playa Langosta, Villas Cerca del Mar. We planned on an early December trip up there because it is just after the rainy season and we were hoping that the area would still be green.
There were about 5 different route changes but the driving was easy and the roads were in excellent condition, except for the very dusty road near Tamarindo which was preparing to be paved. Guanacaste in the dry season has a lot of dusty roads. It's a noticable difference from living down south. The air is definitely drier and it gets very hot. Our first few days we saw some dark clouds accumulating and when we asked a local person if he thought it was going to rain he immediately responded with a firm "No". It seems that once the dry season begins, it really begins.....and it didn't rain and hasn't rained since.
Our small Villa was beautiful. It was a Moroccan style 2 story 3 BR home with it's own pool in the courtyard. There was an indoor/outdoor fountain and rock pool with a turtle. It was very nicely furnished and cared for. The best thing was that the beach was just across the street. The worst thing was that there was no view. But the beach had white sand, many seashells, an estuary with some beautiful birds, one area for surfing, and another area for swimming. There was a community feel to the area especially when everyone came out to the beach for the gorgeous sunsets each evening. We felt very safe walking around during the day and evening. A B&B called Sueno Del Mar, situated right on the beach, had an awesome breakfast but it cost $15. While we were having breakfast there the manager Sue told us there was WiFi. She told us the password is Suenodemar. Ceasar said oh, that must be Sue's last name...Nodemar....Sue Nodemar. Now Ceasar's Spanish is improving but really..... Ceasar??? Que te pasa ti?
Oh, the dust! When the roads are not paved and it doesn't rain often there is a lot of dust. It gets all over the car, the pretty flowers and trees, & into your lungs. We made the mistake of taking the 15 minute walk into town and as the cars and motorcyles went by we had to lift up our shirts to act as particle filters. I felt so bad when I drove past people walking on the road knowing that I was the one dusting them. The people of Langosta came up with somewhat of a temporary solution. Early morning there are workers who drive around in their truck spreading a molasses mixture that mostly keeps the dust from coming up. This happens only on certain parts of the road in front of the homes and businesses that pay for it.
We ate lunch in a restaurant along the road and the waitress had to wipe off the dust from the seats and tables before we sat down. It was so dry and dusty outside that the only thing missing were the tumbleweeds rolling down the street. Needless to say we made it a quick lunch and drank lots of water.
We did get to see Howler monkeys in the trees just outside of Villas Cerca del Mar the very first morning. I hadn't photographed one before as they are found only in certain areas of the south but are very common in Guanacaste. They have very long tails and the sound that they make can be described as if hearing a car come screeching around the bend or a pack of dogs in pain.....and very loud. They are the loudest animal in the New World...and very "feo" or ugly. Even the babies are cute ugly.
We cooked half of the time and ate out at nearby Tamarindo. Tamarindo is much more developed as is known as a surf town and famous for the surf movie Endless Summer which was filmed there. There are enough choices of restaurants, hotels, pharmacies, so that you can find some less expensive options. We were able to find, and recommend, a Tico restaurant called F.T's that had casados for about $7.
I needed to have 3 stitches taken out from my finger from some minor surgery that I had in San Isidro back near our home down south. The first pharmacy/doctor's office that I found wanted $40 to do so. I asked why so expensive and the doctor got insulted and told me that I didn't appreciate the amount of training that she had to learn how to remove stitches. Ceasar offered to remove them for free but he had just finished an Imperial beer and was smiling a bit too much. Plus he felt that since he actually assisted the doctor to place the stitches, (la verdad or the truth), he would know how to remove them. Thanks but no thanks Pooky, so I told the doctor that I would shop around and she said "buena suerte". We found another pharmacist who told me that the doctor that they are associated with would do it for "solo una propina" or just for a tip. So I had it done for $6 instead of $40.
Another reason for our trip to this area was to compare it to where we are living to see if we are missing out on anything with regards of where to live, either now or in the future. We had been to the area about 45 minutes further north when we did a comparison about 5 years ago but that area, yes I'm talking about you Playa Cocos, was too touristy and the beaches weren't as nice. Plus we went there in March when it was very dry and the hills were very brown and not lush green like in the south.
What we are seeing is that the infrastructure is more built up with more services closer by. There are many beautiful swimmable beaches close by. We saw some villas and condos and lots all with beautiful views with small islands and rock formations in the near distance. But the question is it is nice enough to get us to move? That discussion, as well as a look at those swimmable beaches, will be written about in my next blog "Our Guanacaste Trip Part 2". Stay tuned.