Saturday, April 26, 2014

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

I could imagine a Pirates of the Caribbean ship berthed right here!
Our last travel adventure in Costa Rica, and from now on we just feel any form of travel is just going to be a breeze compared to some of the adventures we had had along the way around Costa Rica! One uneventful bus ride from Manuel Antonio to San Jose, then we decided to skip the "get ripped off" taxi ride and we instead walked all the way to the bus station where all the buses leave for the Caribbean. Thinking we have time to spare and taking a bit of a risk making the 20 minute walk across the "dangerous city" we found that actually the bus we needed to take no longer infact leaves from this station, it leaves from the San Carlo bus terminal. Thats one which is in the REALLY dangerous part of town. Luckily, we met another couple in the same predicament and shared a taxi with them. Arriving with only minutes to spare before the bus left we find out the bus is full, but we can purchase a standing seat, no discount thought. Turns out we got one seat, so Thomas spent the 4 hour bus ride standing and seated in the aisle. And eventually we made it!!!

Puerto Viejo streets by night
Puerto Viejo is a place with a true Caribbean vibe and flair. Its a very popular destination on the Caribbean coast so benefits and suffers from this tourism exposure. The small town had a colourful and rustic charm mixed with the usual littered streets and often pungent stench. The streets were lined with market stalls with vendors trying to sell you their crafts and occasionally some recreational drugs. There was quite a nightlife scene with many people we met basically coming just to party. We noticed many nights at 4 am in our 8 bed dorm, where we were still the only ones in bed, then have a room full of sleepers during the day. For the first few nights we stayed at a shanty town of a backpackers, in a private cabin, that was part of what looked like the owners constant additions. When he needed more rooms he would just add another level to his building or tack a room onto the side. The place was a bit run down and had a bit of a dirty hippie vibe, so we only stayed the two nights, later moving to a nicer backpackers on the edge of town nearer to the beach, with nicer people and facilities.

Our $24 dollar a night cabin.
This was the last place we were visiting in Costa Rica and it turned out we had a good few days left so we had plenty of time to just chill, relax and enjoy the extremely hot mornings and the unique vibes of town. We cooked good food and went for long walks along the beaches. We rented bikes one day and took them the 10km or so down the road to Punta Uva and eventually Manzanillo (the furthest southern point on the Caribbean coast), which is a popular ride for tourists. A long winding deserted strip through the jungle leading to some characteristic Caribbean beaches and as it turns out a spot with alot of local families having BBQs and picnics. We saw birds, monkeys, a sloth, spiders and some fish while swimming.

The beautiful ride to Manzanillo
We ended up becoming friends with a cool dude from Oregon, Arhen. We enjoyed his company and near death stories of skydiving and base jumping. He was very interested to hear about all my beer stories and ramblings, as he's from one of the beer capitols of America, Bent, Oregon. For a couple of days we made some nice meals together, played cards at night and exchanged stories of adventure and travel. During the day we would chill at the beach, get absolutely toasted in that crazy morning sun and body surf and swim.

Looks like the Caribbean right?
After I finally finished up my does of antibiotics, I was allowed to have some beers, and together with Arhen we went to a hotel/ pub/ brewery to check out their stuff. It actually turned out to be the owner basically selling his homebrew, which I believe he was misguided as to his style selection for the area and climate and just unfortunately hadn't made any nice beer. None-the-less I chatted to him and he offered myself and Amy jobs of helping him run the hotel and brewing for him. Was a nice offer and all, if it had been in Santa Teresa I would have jumped at it in a heart beat, not so much here. Luckily for my taste buds he did have two beers from a micro brewery from San Jose, and they were very nice. 

Our second to last night in Costa Rica, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal/dining experience. There was a restaurant in Puerto Viejo called 'Stashu's Con Fusion',  which according to everyone in town, and our travel book, is one of the most delicious restaurants in all of Costa Rica. We went around 6.30pm for dinner, got a lovely seat on their open air lounge deck (the entire restaurant was open air) surrounded by interesting paintings, light fixtures and eccentric furniture. A fortune teller even eventually set up somewhere behind us, and we avoided eye contact all night. We ordered Caribbean Madras Curry and a Jamaican Jerk Chicken mains. We were surprised to find out these came with salads as a first course, which was lovely, and as soon as our main meals came, the place really started to fill up. We were shocked to see the presentation of our food, a nice helping of the chicken in its various sauces, a tower of rice, a slice of watermelon, some strawberry jam drizzles, a sliver of corn on the cob, two potato cubes, a paper thin slice of carrot, and the same of beet root!!! It was all SPECTACULAR though. We were really blown away. The entire evening cost us $27. Not too shabby for one of the best meals we've ever had. A divine evening, and a great way to end our last adventure in Costa Rica. 

Took our beers for a walk across the road from the pub, not a bad spot I say.

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