CR Day 8 – Feliz Navidad!

Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad!

There are decorations and lights all over the place here, but it’s not enough to make it feel like Christmas. Everyone shares wishes online when the little snippets of Internet access pop up, but mostly we are disconnected and quite content with that.
The day would be pretty mellow. We brought some stockings with a few gifts for the girls and enjoyed a big breakfast and a morning around the pool. Ro and I started our day with a swim and the first of many pics with Christmas hats. Ro, Sarah and I enjoyed a walk in the other direction from our villa so we could see some of the countryside surrounding us. We saw a beautiful horse and some interesting sale properties…hmmm.

Mid-afternoon we headed to Playa Tambor for a fun Christmas shot of the whole gang on the beach. We had a local join in for some shots as she was thrilled to see us all in our crazy hats and antlers. We followed up the shots with another drop-in to the bar at Tambor Tropicale and a little more wifi time. I needed this time to connect with various hosts and contacts about our trips and stays and questions which usually took up all my time, so I left Facebook and Instagram to the rest of the smartphone-ophiles. I did squeeze in some quick copying and pasting during a couple of bar visits to get some of these blog posts up, but it seemed I was always in a hurry for fear I’d lose my connection…or finish my drink. 😜

We returned to the villa for another different dining experience. We had bought some chicken and chorizo sausage and I prepared a hot charcoal fire (first in a long, long time) to cook it all. Everyone agreed it was some of the best chorizo we’d ever eaten. It was a late but very tasty dinner to bring Christmas 2015 to a close. The first for everyone in a tropical location.


  
  

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CR Day 7 – Tavo Takes Us to Tortuga

This was a simply amazing day. An early start in order to get everyone to Playa Tambor in order to be picked up by Tavo and his boat at 8am. He likes to go early because where we’re going gets busy by late morning into early afternoon. Where we’re going is Isles Tortugas. The trip with Tavo came recommended by Tony, the guy from whom we rented the villa. Colleen, Tony’s property manager and our main contact during our stay, also recommended it and booked it for us.
We boarded the boat from the beach with the help of Tavo and his assistant Jose. You will not meet a nicer, friendlier couple of guys. Tavo’s young son was with us as his wife was still in the hospital having just given birth to another son the night before. Such a happy and celebratory mood that permeated the whole day.

The boat ride was a pleasant, if uneventful 30-40 minutes over to the two islands that make up Isles Tortugas. We had already enjoyed one island, Alcatraz, during lunch on our kayaking adventure just two days earlier. Today we were headed to the actual island of Tortuga. So named because it looks like a turtle, not because there are any there. Though there are some in the waters around it.

We saw some interesting formations along the back side of the islands before heading to the beach side where we would spend about an hour and a half snorkeling. The water was not as clear as other places we’ve snorkeled, but the variety and abundance of fish was spectacular. And Tavo was right, there were already a few boats there and it would get much busier as the day wore on.

We headed in for some beach time, a little shopping at the surprisingly well stocked souvenir shop and a wonderfully prepared meal with fish, chicken, rice, beans, salad, a variety of fruit and plenty of rum and cervezas. Perfect weather, perfect location, perfect food. There was also some interesting and unique wildlife, such as Philomena, the not-so-wild, Wild Boar. She was like a dog, begging for food, pushing her way in for petting and even occasionally rolling over for belly rubs. There was also a parrot, many chickens and several peacocks.

The water was brilliant, the beach sand white and fine and the sky perfectly blue. We had an amazing time just wandering, playing in the water and enjoying some lovely conversation with Tavo and Jose while they prepared us several rum drinks. They dropped us back at Tambor beach where we paid and gave him some extra money to help with the new addition to his family.

We went back for a salt removing swim and shower and to get ready for a Christmas Eve dinner at Tambor Tropicale. The dinner was nice, but quiet, aside from the occasional burst of fireworks in front of the brilliant full moon. Everyone was pretty tired and took advantage of the wifi at the hotel bar since we couldn’t really access it anywhere else. So the conversation was minimal since the surfing was excessive. A quiet, but tasty end to another wonderful day on the water.

  
  
  
  
  

CR Day 6 – More Tambor

A day off from scheduled excursions left everyone wide open to explore, relax or just sleep in. Not that anyone was sleeping past nine now that all our internal clocks were set to early wake ups, wanting to enjoy every bit of every sunny day. The girls decided to stick around the villa and enjoy another hot, sunny morning around the pool. The rest of us opted for a trip to the wharf in Tambor and a further explore.

The wharf was an experience of multiple fish-out-of-water stories. A long pier juts out into the far south western reaches of Tambor Bay and receives deliveries of a variety of seafood catches starting at the first light in the morning. We wandered past all the nets and enjoyed the view of Playa Tambor as we moved with trepidation toward the vendors. We were a little confused that the only fish we could see was being gutted at the end of the pier where a large contingent of Pelicans had parked themselves. There were also eels being prepared, but there wasn’t much seafood and none looked ready for purchase. Looking back around we noticed all the freezers and asked in broken Spanish if we could buy some fish. The gentleman leaning on the freezer moved to the side and opened the lid to display a full variety of gutted, chilling and very fresh fish. Big Pargo (red snapper) and little Pargo not even hours removed from the sea. With Roanne’s limited Spanish and my sign language we managed to secure seven snapper for about $35 Canadian.

With the fish covered in ice in our own little cooler we decide to discover Tambor Bay beyond the fisherman’s wharf. We walked for over an hour and a half through beautiful forest speckled with sunshine and over dramatic lava covered beaches with brilliant little alcoves for swimming and sunning. There was nobody else out there…nobody, at all. Brilliant white sand in some spots and moonscape lava rock in others we reveled in the sense that only we knew of this brilliant little stretch of paradise. Thanks Bruce!

We travelled mostly through the cooler forest on the way back and saw some absolutely stunning, some would say beautiful, spiders. Not an arachnid fan myself, still I marveled and photographed.

We returned to the villa with our “catch”, picked up the girls and went to El Tamino for lunch. Across a bridge from the base of the street into our little town of Panica. A lovely meal from our Spanish only, but very gracious host was followed by a stroll through the back of his property. We heard the howlers, among other creatures, but as we closed in on the river the knowledge of the crocodile warning signs sent us back.

We enjoyed some longing around the pool and then Bibi made a perfectly spicy and tasty Spanish rice while I set about preparing the Pargo for barbecuing. It took a while to get the charcoal going, mainly because I hadn’t used a charcoal barbecue in more years than I can count.

Despite having to dig through bones the preparation and cooking of the Pargo was a modest success and perfectly accompanied by the Bibi rice and Steve salad.

A normalish bedtime tonight as we look forward to another excursion tomorrow. This time with Tavo to Tortugas.


  
  
  
  

CR Day 5 – Kayaking in Curú

Kayaking with Seascape today. Our guide Bruce is from New Brunswick and spends part of the year running kayak tours around the Bay of Fundy. The rest of the year he takes people out to sea kayak off the bottom of the Nicoya Peninsula from places like the Reserva Curú and Playa Tambor. We stock up with a hardy breakfast so we are well fueled for our adventure at sea. It is another absolutely stunning day in this part of Costa Rica and we are all very excited to get out on the water for a new perspective on this spectacular country.
We get our instructions, haul the boats to the water and one at a time we begin skimming into the bay of the privately owned and operated nature reserve, Reserva Curú. Bruce leads the way and his assistant Mariano brings up the rear. Friendly, informative, personable, considerate and simply nice all-around guys, they lead us across the calm waters, along the pretty coastline and across to Isles Tortugas to a mid-tour break on a secluded beach. We stopped mid-water for a few of us tourists to enjoy a swim right out of our kayaks. It was supposed to be a quick stop, but one of us had a hard time getting back into his kayak. I thought it would be kinda like getting on a surfboard…it is not.

Bruce and Mariano prepared a great lunch for us with the freshest, tastiest guacamole and hummus I’ve ever had. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, granola bars and plenty of water and we were refueled for the return trip.

Somewhat unexpectedly the skies clouded over and the water got a little rougher, but it was a fun rough. A few gentle waves and lots of swells. Little pushes and great lifts made the going fairly easy and really fun. The clouds were actually a welcome respite from the penetrating heat of the burning sun blazing across the open water.

Once back on land some rested, some showered and I gathered our gear so Bruce and Mariano could put everything away. We wandered the immediate area of the reserve and snapped pics of iguanas, coatis, white-faced monkeys and crabs. When we paid, Bruce suggested we hit the Tambor Tropicale for a drink to round out the day. We all enjoyed a couple of tropical umbrella drinks and had a great conversation with Bruce about all things Canadian Maritimes and Costa Rican Nicoya.

A wonderfully physical, adventurous and satisfying day rounded out with a swim and some pan fried fish with Ro’s tasty papaya salsa. Still early and even a little energized we engaged in a raucous game of Heads Up to bring another fantastic Costa Rican day to a close.


  
  
  
  

CR Day 4 – Zip Line in Montezuma

Zip lining day! It’s an early start for a thrilling adventure in an intoxicating locale, high up in the hills above the very bohemian town of Montezuma.
We had a few nervous rookies with us as we made our way up the very challenging roads of deep potholes and steep inclines. The friendly staff greeted us and explained the adventure ahead. Nerves were not calmed by the sight of a long zip line disappearing into the jungle.

The professional zip liners geared us all up, expertly and efficiently. Some zipped the first time with our guides and others took the plunge alone and kicked off the adventure with a loud yahoo. The only problem with zip lining is people don’t look down. They get anxious about what’s ahead and miss the spectacular scenery from their unique, mobile observation points. I only have a little experience, but it’s enough that I look all around and marvel at all I see…and how much I see. The views from the line and the platforms are spectacular.

Everyone survives and is thrilled with the experience. We drive to Montezuma for some lunch, shopping and very satisfied beach time. Montezuma is an off-the-beaten-track, bohemian village with artisan tables along the street, roads that just end and plenty of good places to eat and chill out. We enjoy a lunch overlooking the beach, iced coffee in an Italian cafe with great wifi and a stroll along the street chatting with and buying from hippie artisans that hail from all over Central and South America.

The brilliant finish is some beach time and another swim in the warm pacific. The land in the water drops off fast making for great swimming close to shore.

Late afternoon brings us into Cabano for some groceries and then we head back to the villa for showers and fajitas. It’s another quiet night and early bedtime as we prepare for another early start and fun adventure, tomorrow.


  
  
  

CR Day 3 – Exploring Tambor

We took today to relax and begin exploring our environs. It was an early start, but the start was a swim in a cute little pool in a Costa Rican jungle. And it included a huge mug of Costa Rican coffee. Glorious!
After a late breakfast we made our way into Tambor to check out the town and the beach. The tide was way out and the beach was practically deserted. Sad because Tambor Bay is so well protected, safe and beautiful. But the sand is grey-brown and mushy, so not very appealing for the average beach-goer. We find a nice dry patch on the low-tide sand and have a relaxing swim while watching the gulls and Pelicans dive bomb for food. Once the heat gets to us we venture up to the bar across the road and enjoy a cerveza in the shade. Then we walk next door to the pizza place Colleen recommended and enjoy some fantastic pizza and smoothies. Well stuffed, the adults enjoy a walk along the road that borders the beach, checking out the wide variety of beachfront properties before heading down to the water for the walk back. The teenagers relax around the cars and we pass them by to snap a few shots of wild horses grazing the grass on the far side of the bay.

We head back to the house for a relaxing swim and a second fantastic dinner by Ro as she throws herself into a thorough enjoyment of playing in the huge, well appointed and gathering friendly kitchen.

Tonight we experience the howler monkeys in full force. We’ve heard them before, but around dusk tonight we see the full troop, in the trees above us, between the main house and the casita. Ten to fourteen monkeys, including several young ones. They venture part way down to check us out, just as we linger below the trees watching and photographing them. Their howl is very loud, angry and threatening, but they are not very big. Like a lot of dogs I know, apparently their bark is far worse than their bite.

It’s another fairly early tonight for tomorrow we Zip!


  
  
  

CR Day 2 – To the Nicoya Peninsula

A spectacular view on a gorgeous day. An early morning swim even before the coffee is ready. Drying off on a lounger greeting everyone else as they make their way to the pool and dining room. The hotel dog comes for a visit letting me know that the coffee is ready. Life IS perfect!
Today we are making our way to Tambor on the southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula. It’s a big chunk of land on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. Not easy or quick to get to, which helps keep the kitschy tourist quotient to a minimum.

We enjoy a leisurely drive with a malfunctioning GPS (I hate those things) and missed an important turn. It did however lead to a great lunch and proper directions from the friendly waiter…600 metres back the way we came then turn right. Puntarenas, where the ferry is right over there, he said, motioning toward the east. We got back in the car and the GPS lady said, “In 600 metres turn left.” Shut up, GPS lady!

We made it with plenty of time for the ferry and I even enjoyed a stick of street meat while we waited to board. Mucho tasty.

We ended up on the party side of the boat and enjoyed the beautiful view of the peninsula and watching some of the locals moving to the music. Moving because it was somewhere between dancing and sex.

An otherwise uneventful crossing followed by a 20 minute drive and we meet up with Colleen, the property manager of the place we’re staying. She is a U.S. expat who came to Costa Rica to help manage a hotel construction project 25 years ago and she stayed.

Colleen helped us navigate the tiny town of Tambor and it’s cute little grocery store. Then got us to our home for the next week and a bit. Our place is tucked at the end of dirt road outside an even tinier town called Panica. A pretty place surrounded by lush jungle, with a small casita (like a bunky) across a dry river bed and fronted by a perfect sized pool, all looked over by a pack of Howler Monkeys and a sweet, little dog we’ve nicknamed Little Rickie. She looks like a tiny little German Sheppard. She has adopted us and greets us like we’ve been her family forever.

We settle in, have a swim and hit the sack early after a long, but exciting day traveling to the far reaches of Central Americas west coast.