I decided I had enough photos of the area for a while, so I left my camera behind - now that's travelling light! Unfortunately, I also left behind part of my CPAP machine, so my sleep was not optimal - but still not all bad (very nice to know this for the future). I did bring my very own snorkel gear - my only rental this trip was the bike!
We splurged on a dinner at La Costa de Papito but most of our dinners were from street vendors - the chicken on a stick with hot sauce is to die for! And the big plus is that is leaves plenty of room for ice cream :-). "Deelight" ice-cream parlor serves gelato that has the most *intense* flavor I have ever had in Costa Rica. Choko orange - OMG! It is right across from the bus stop, and is on my must-must-must do list. Coming from a die-hard ice-cream lover, that is really saying something... Oh yes, the Italian owners/chefs are simply lovely to talk to as well!
We continued the eat-on-the-street theme for lunch - bought french bread at a bakery on the South side of Puerto Viejo, got water, sodas, beer, wine, cheese and yogurt drinks at a grocery store, and ate at the beach whenever we got hungry :-). I discovered (a little late, but not entirely *too* late) that I like to carry a little something to drink with me - so, I poured some wine into an old soda bottle and sipped it to cool off that hot street chicken.
Most restaurants in Puerto Viejo now serve filtered water when you ask for a "vaso de agua" - there is a very minimal charge, if any, and it does cut down on the "water issues." There are also places that advertise water-bottle refills all along the main drag.
We rented bikes one day, and rode down the coast along the mostly-newly-paved road. This was a *considerable* improvement over last year's body-bruising cruise. Tides were high, and a storm was coming in, so the waves were pretty rough, but the water was still lovely. And the rain held off until we were all tucked up for the night :-).
The weather was generally very nice! Temperatures were in the low 80's, and there was a nice breeze. Humidity was often in the 50's, and never oppressive. We had rain two nights, and a couple of hours of mist-and-drizzle one day - no umbrella needed, although we did see a couple of people riding bikes with an umbrella held just so :-).
I finally have to admit that the Cactus Juice I have simply does not work against the biting bugs in Puerto Viejo - I now have more than 40 bites as my unwanted proof. After a couple of evenings of providing ice-cream enriched blood to the wretches, Big Bro saved us all by buying a bottle of DEET...
Coming back, I got a small surprise. Usually, the bus stops at an immigration check-point just past Limón - an immigration officer checks everyone's passport or cédula to make sure everyone is legally in the country. (So if you're a tourist, it's important to carry your actual passport. Or perhaps at minimum, a copy including entry stamp.) But this time, we didn't stop! Good news for my travel companion, since she only had a copy of her passport info page (not the entry stamp). Bad news, only because now I don't know what would happen in this circumstance. Of course, that good news far outweighs the bad...
--- trip details ---
- This time, we hopped the 10:00 bus from San José on Monday morning (crowded), and I returned on the 9:00 Friday morning bus (half empty) - each was c4545 (~$9). The trip is about 4 hours, including a 10 minute stop in Limón (run for the bathroom, since there is only one, and please wash your hands in the sink outside, not inside the women's room).
- You can buy your ticket from San José at least 2 days in advance, and all seats are assigned.
- You can buy your return ticket only one day in advance, and seating is open. The bus starts in Sixaola, about 1 hour away, so boarding time in Puerto Viejo is *very* approximate - bring your patience.
- We stayed at the Cabinas Casa Verde, still my favorite place to stay there (it's for sale!). Even though there are ceiling fans, we find that it is more comfortable to bring a small personal fan as well.
- Cruiser Bikes rent everywhere for c3000/day (return by 6 pm).
- There are several farmacias in town, and at least one had Breathe-Right strips (3 for c850).
- Taxis between Playa Cocles and Puerto Viejo run c2000.
- Electric Golf carts rent for $70 for 24 hours, and have headlights and enough juice for 6 hours of solid running.
- Pareos sencillos sell for c5000 (I got a nice yellow one this time).
- Casados run about c2700; a little more on the main drag, a little less a couple of blocks inland.
- "Chocolate y Pan" turned into a regular breakfast place for us.
- Almost everywhere had 2x1 drinks for happy hour, usually 4:30-7, often c2000 for *large* tumblers of daiquiris or piña coladas.