It is Sunday afternoon and the boys are finally having their surfing lesson! We’ve been thwarted every single time: stranded the first time and unable to make our date, waves too big the next time, waves too small the next time, then we thought we were leaving and decided not to try again. Then we didn’t leave and, this morning, we ran into Topo at breakfast and everything fell into place for this afternoon 2:45. They just left.
Mo is gung-ho on surfing (he’s done it before), Jacob seems interested and a tad excited, having caught some of Mo’s enthusiasm. Ryan has been, well, coerced into participating. He really wants to try it, surfing seems so cool. But he’s like me: if it’s at all icky, it may be more trouble than it’s worth.
Meanwhile, I’m having a love/hate relationship with Puerto Viejo. It reminds me so totally of old Key West, when Key West was a village, closed up during hurricane season (which would be now), no cars on the street, you knew everyone you saw because you only saw locals, it was hot as blazes. This was in the years before we lived in air conditioning, running from our ac’ed cars to our ac’ed homes and offices… The atmosphere here makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Mostly warm.
- Vera, the manager at Cabinas Jacaranda, our current hotel (we’ve been to three so far). As big around as a pencil, all energy, knows everyone, knows where to eat, what to do, who’s doing what to whom, remembers my name and chats me up all the time like she’s known me since I was born. That would be a long time;
- the old guy who owns La Forteleza. Great ice cream, seems like a shrewd businessman on one hand and a genuinely nice guy at the same time. We use his internet – it’s the cheapest at $2/hour;
- that old Key West feeling. It’s pleasantly overwhelming;
- wandering the streets (both of them – this town couldn’t be any smaller), looking at the houses and the people;
- the sound of the ocean;
- having to move so slowly. I wouldn’t unless I had to, you know. It’s because of the heat. Which I hate.
- the heat: it is relentless and stifling. The only relief is to sit in front of a fan or find a breezy, shady spot. You are sweaty from your 5:30am cold shower till at least 5 or 6pm, sometimes later. I’ve only been in two places that have ac. Sweating all the time is gross;
- the mosquitoes: they are relentless 24/7. Direct fan or really breezy spot is the only relief. Bug spray helps, but some mosquitoes blow right past it. Beyond annoying and, in dengue season, actually dangerous;
- feeling like I’m being taken. Prices here, like housing prices everywhere I’ve been, including here, have far outstripped value. You feel like everything is just a little (sometimes a lot) overpriced and you just aren’t getting your money’s worth. So when you find good value – like the Jacaranda, Pan Pay, Hotel Guaraná, Topo, La Forteleza’s internet café – you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot;
- the hostility of most of the locals toward the tourists and their money. If you aren’t spending, you aren’t worth noticing. No happy native syndrome here;
- the cabbies who are all bandidos – it’s $4 to go 1/2 mile, $10 to go four. We got sick of that in a hurry.
But we are car-less and phone-less, both of which make visiting here much more difficult and not nearly as entertaining. We’d love to go exploring more, but the local bus service only runs every two to three hours, so getting to a place requires walking or bicycling in the hot sun on the dirty dusty bumpy gravel road. Or hiring a bandido.
And before putting in all that getting-there effort, you want to make sure your destination is open and available. Which requires calling first. Which requires a pay phone which are few and far between and at least half of them don’t work. I’ve spent more time waiting in line for a phone to open up than I have eating. That’s saying something.
Next time, I’m coming with a car and a phone. You might have plenty of fun with only one of them. But I’ll bet you’d have twice as much fun with both.
Now, while the guys are hangin’ ten, I’ll catch you up on the week.
You may not notice the animosity where you live but it is VERY present here in touristville Jaco. They sell their land and then hate the developers. The “price” is never the end price. And as far as “miles of smiles”, they barely acknowledge tourist unless you’re holding a $20. People probably think that I’m just being negative but you really have to live it. It has REALLY changed here in the last 5 years. I’m beginning to wonder if living in paradise is worth the “heat” we all get from the locals, not to mention it being so damn hot all the time. Teri
What a GREAT post! It opened my eyes about PV and environs. I hope you will offer this post (and actually CONQUERING THE MIGHTY PACUARE, too) up to CRL as trip reports since you cover both the good and the bad about your adventures there.
And Janet will thank you, too, if you do!
Thanks, Paul. I will post these two for sure… i have so much more to write… the adventures, experiences over there were pretty amazing!
You obviously don´t get out much if you think the heat is relentless and stifling. Hardly anyone or any hotel here has AC here and there is a reason. The pacific coast has higher average temperatures then here.
Not sure where you stayed.. but we do not even have mosquito nets in the room. No one has complained. And yes dengue is a risk all over the country.
House prices are set what ever people are willing to pay. That is usually the way it works. When people quit paying the price will change.. That is my usual observation on any real estate market.
Been reading your posts… you seem a little obsessed about money and prices of things. Now, that does not excuse people trying to cheat you. But what I found out after 3 years of living here is that most people don´t really care. I was not the important rich expat, I thought I was. It was hard (and still is sometimes) that for many down here, it isn´t all about the money like it is where you and I are from. It was devastating to find out that I was not that important… I am still in recovery 😉
Oh yes… cab rates… another price thing… well as you can see from the roads down here that they absolutely kill any car that might be remotely easy on gas. The roads have no mercy and there is no relief in site. Fixing your car here is not only expensive, but a real problem as you have to find a way to get it to Limon, then finding someone that is qualified is your next adventure…. the car story almost always continues, but I will spare your readers.
One thing you do not mention is that Puerto Viejo has a noticably lack of American expats in comparison to the rest of the country. Not sure exactly what it is that many don´t like about the place, but it suits me fine.
As we always say… It surely ain´t for everyone and that is why we like it.
Since moving to Costa Rica from Key West (where my friends tell me it has been over 90° every day for the last three weeks), I avoid hot weather like the plague. But I’m also obsessed with visiting as much of Costa Rica as I can, see if the grass is greener over there… Like so many people, I dream of having a little beach house where I can see the ocean from my kitchen sink. Alas, after recent visits to Ojochal and now PV, I’d have to have a mountain house, too!
At the moment, there is almost no dengue here in the central valley – too cold! I have on a sweater and thick socks at 11pm on Saturday night. I love it!! The dengue mosquito bites in the day anyway. We didn’t have mosquito nets at the other two PV hotels and it was fine. And I hate ac – I’m so glad you all don’t feature it there… I might have been tempted to stay inside all day, weenie that I am. Thank you, thank you.
I am a tad obsessed with the prices of things. My expectation was that living here would be SO much cheaper, and it is cheaper in many ways. But just barely enough to make retiring here a possibility. And as a newbie expat, I am still stumbling onto the gringo/tico pricing thing. That’s annoying. Anyway. I’m learning how to stretch a dollar.
I did notice the dearth of expats, of all people really, except for backpackers. But I agree: it’s funkiness is probably what keeps people from living there but it also preserves its charm.
Over the next couple of days, I’m finishing up on the trip and writing more about PV. I loved the feel of the place and will come back with my mom later this year – she will love it too. She’s the one who got me to Key West so many years ago.