|Surfers at Quepos harbor.|
This was our “down” day. I’m really tired from 3 hours of sleep and John is a little surf bummed I think. Or maybe it’s missing Santa Teresa and our disappointment with this area. We have seen some Titi monkey action around the hotel, but for Manuel Antonio its been pretty slim on wildlife. We drive around and see other surf spots around Quepos and its dismal in comparison. Plus we are warned not once, not twice, but three times at three different places to be careful of the car break-ins that are notorious in this area. As if we needed more to say “no” to this stretch of Costa Rica for us.
We are not going to go further south and stay in Dominical as planned, having canceled plans to see any real estate here. We discuss driving to Arenal for 2 nights, and even a brief discussion as to the practicality of going back to Santa Teresa for two days. We decide both are too far and too much time and John finds an eco-lodge in Parrita online that is about 30 minutes north of us towards San Jose. We book for one night and then we will decide what to do next.
Breakfast, pool time, packing, trying to catch monkeys on film and ready to leave at 11:00 AM check out. We notice right away as we are driving that not 15 minutes north of Quepos there’s a quiet, finca attitude in the little towns. They are cleaner, better kept homes and yards and agriculture is the focus, not tourism. We drive through Parrita, mentally marking where we need to come back to for this evening, but we really want to see if there’s some more surf spots of interest in this area. We drive down a dirt road that says Walt Paraiso that is another hotel that we can stay at in Esterillos Oeste for one night. It’s large with OK looking rooms, pool, pool tables, big open grass areas for soccer and such and reasonably priced. And its deserted. Weird for such a large hotel by the beach.
We continue down to the town of Esterillos Oeste and it ends right on the beach. There’s a lot of wrecked buildings right on the beach and we learn later that a tropical storm with tornados did great damage here 2 years back and the road to recovery is slow. The waves are pretty closed out right here at this time of day but it’s a nice beach with a really interesting reef break at the far north end. We decide to keep driving around a bit and as we go back towards the main road a different way we see a whole neighborhood of some very nice houses. We drive past the unmanned gate house and start looking at these homes which look a lot like what you’d see in Laguna Beach. Several are for rent or sale, more are occupied. As we drive out with telephone numbers written down for real estate agents, we pass a car with some Gringos and ask about the neighborhood. They tell us to turn around and follow them as one of them will be renting her house out soon.
Roxanne is a stunning woman from New York, a writer for CNN and now writing history books. She built this Costa Rica get away to write in and get away from the hustle and bustle. She shows us her 2 bedroom house with 2 bathrooms, laundry room, modern granite kitchen, open beam ceilings. These homes are very nice. She has also done an outdoor kitchen in the driveway area with Bar-B-Q, sink and prep area.
She tells us of the neighbohood, that it is a very close knit, warm and inviting ex-pat community. There’s a woman in her 80’s who started a volunteer lifeguard training program and the local ex-pats help raise money to pay Ticos to be lifeguards. Lots of community involvement in education and children’s programs too. Owners in “The Hills” as it is called, also pay a fee for the security guards who patrol randomly during the day and man the gate house all night. She will putting her house up for brent for 6 months or so before she comes back for an extended stay again. There’s also some other places for sale and rent and she gives us the real estate agent who handles the whole neighborhood. We give her a call and plan to meet her in the morning at 10 AM in nearby Jaco.
Roxanne recommends a motel in town, Hotel Rancho Coral and we drive down to check it out. We meet a couple from Miami who are there with their Dad who is a major paddleboard surfer. The motel is right on the beach, no pool but hammocks, outdoor bar, family feel. They unfortunately have no rooms tomorrow night, though we can check back. We decide to surf here. I go right out front and the closed out waves are not nearly as long and forgiving as up north on the peninsula. John goes to the reef break and actually gets some decent surf in. We shower at their outdoor shower and decide its time to look for the lodge we are staying at. You do not want to drive at night here.
Back to Parrita and then up a dirt road. Our GPS actually finds the place and it’s a LONG bumpy road for over 40 minutes to the Eco-Lodge Carlisa Paraiso. The lobby is cool with a big open area and veranda overlooking the rain forest.
They also do an animal rescue and forest care program with international volunteers. We are given a suite instead of just a room, same price, and we drive down the dirt road to our room. Its rustic and a trifle worn with a big room with bed type of sofa, a sofa bed, TV, desk, refrigerator, separate bedroom and bathroom. A whole family could stay here for sure. We hike down the road further to see if we can make it to their waterfalls by dark. We pass the orchid gardens, animal rescue and stables. If I stayed here again id take the horseback ride to the upper falls. We can’t make it to the falls before dark but we do feed crackers from Ceviche Miguel to several parrots.
Back up to the lobby for dinner. Guests are sort of a captive audience for meals here. There’s a ping pong table- a nice one- in a room off the lobby and we ask for paddles and balls- which are also nice and new. John destroys me in three games but I do get some shots in that he comments have nice spin. Dinner at the lodge we get no menus with prices. We order bottled water, a pumpkin cream soup and an odd potato salad with fish in it. We have entrees with a white fish and beef fajitas served with rice and an odd puree that we are told is potatoes with lemon. The plates lacked green. In the morning we will find out that the waters were $3 each and together with the food- and 23% taxes and service- it will have cost close to $40. Too much for that quality I can tell you!
Tomorrow we meet with The Hills real estate agent in Jaco and we will surf the Esterillos break again.