(Correction: I've been informed by a reader that Costa Rica has no "Pythons" so consider all references to Python to be Boa Constrictor.)
Words are hardly adequate to describe the incredible past week and a half for Layne and me but words being my coinage, I'll have to try and pay the price. As my readers know, the highlight of virtually every week around here is our Sunday hike with "the Santa Eulalia gang" and Sunday the 30th of December was no exception. It started out normally enough: we'd spend a couple of hours traipsing the back trails of our barrio with a loose plan to end up at some restaurant along the way for lunch. As we followed picturesque Calle Vanilla that runs below the ridge behind our house, the adventure began to unfold.
First of all, this remote dirt lane is beautiful just on its own, with huge stands of bamboo reaching to the sky and the yellow-flowered vanilla trees for which the road is named offering their own charm. As we meandered up the last unpaved portion into a small village, we noticed a rustic house with a large covered patio nestled deep in the jungle. Seidy liked the look of the place snuggled in the greenery, so we stopped for a closer look. Just inside the front foliage was a group of men standing over a huge they had just slain, capital punishment for poaching their chickens. The fearsome creature was magnificent, really, with its complex brown, beige and black pattern and enormous as you can see. Amazing!
With Marcial and Seidy's inimitable networking skills, we were all soon chatting in English and Spanish with Don Yeyo, learning that his brother uses the large patio area to make furniture on the weekends, including the wooden rocking chairs that Layne and I covet for our veranda. Good information to have.
|Bonnie and Seidy look on as Don Yeyo chats|
|... and more orchids!|
|More beautiful flowers|
|Seidy admires the garden as Marcial enjoys rice pudding|
The lady of the house brought out dishes of a yummy rice pudding and showed us her yard full of orchids and other lovely plants. Ho-hum -- just another day on the trail!
By contrast, our return trip was uneventful, unless you count finding a hidden river. With the help of some bamboo walking sticks machete'd for us by "Costa Rica Dundee" aka Marcial, we strolled down a steep grassy slope along a narrow cow trail, discovered only the day before by Marcial and his son Daniel, to a pretty little babbling stream.
|Seidy, Marcial and Yours Truly relax by the pool|
We carefully picked our way across the rocks to take a break by a quiet pool before hiking up the other slope to the road and on to a convenience store for cold water and cold beers. Exercising a little restraint this day, there was no tequila in our plans as we all made our happy way back home.
But the next night was a different matter: New Year's Eve at Stephen and Bonnie's house was a festive affair attended by the whole gang, including our long-absent friends Chris and Sue who had returned that very day from packing and shipping duties back in the States. Their container won't arrive for another month or two but they were ecstatic to be back among their Santa Eulalia friends. We managed to hold off on the champagne until close to midnight when the multitude of large and small fireworks visible across the valley offered the perfect way to bring in the New Year.
With everything closed for the holidays, life slowed to a quieter pace for a day or two but for Layne and me there were more adventures in the offing. My son Damian had written a few weeks earlier asking if I might come to California to assist him following knee surgery he was facing in early January and, of course, I was happy to say Yes. But with the prospect of a month in chilly and damp San Francisco, I was longing for just one more trip to the beach before I departed, a little more sun and surf to hold me until I return in early February.
So with some help from Marcial we made last minute arrangements to bus down to Esterillos Oeste for an overnight stay at his friend Wilberth's beachfront hotel, Rancho Coral. It seems Marcial met Wilberth and his wife Eve Araya some years ago and bonded on many levels, not the least is that the two men share the same last name of Artavia and were born and raised in the north central portion of the country. Although not directly related, they nevertheless call each other primo, or cousin.
|Rancho Coral gardens|
Rancho Coral is a real find! Comfortable and secluded with only seven apartments, the gardens rampant with greenery and adorned with an abundance of hammocks strung from tree to tree, chickens running free along with a dozen or so friendly dogs rescued by Wilberth and Eve, the place is an absolute delight. The broad beige sandy beach is just steps away from your room and the surf is wonderfully clean and clear and delightfully warm. The breakfast is delicious, the coffee good and strong. One night was not nearly enough. In fact, we plan to return during the low season with the whole Santa Eulalia gang and take over the place. Look out, Wilberth and Eve!
|Playa Esterillos Oeste|
|Enjoying some Aqua Pipa, fresh from the coconut|
|View from a hammock #1|
|View from a hammock #2|
The real drama was in our bus travels. When we pre-purchased our tickets in San Jose in order to assure ourselves of seats, the cashier said that the bus leaving San Jose at 7:00 a.m. should arrive at the Atenas bus stop on the main road about 7:30 a.m. When we stepped out of our taxi at 7:15, however, we had barely time to catch our breath before our bus arrived. Even then the driver somehow missed our stop and let us off a mile down the road at a deserted parada where Wilberth soon came to pick us up.
|Waiting for Wilberth|
Returning on Saturday night, it was just the opposite: along with a half dozen Ticos, we waited almost an hour and a half for the big vehicle to show up. Go figure. Or as we say in Costa Rica, Pura Vida!
(PS - As a holiday gift to my readers, Layne's novel MORAL TURPITUDE is available for FREE through January 31st. (NC-17 but not erotica.) To download it, click HERE to go directly to the book page; then click Add to Cart. You will have to register but it's very simple and you will get no spam. At the Cart page, enter Coupon Code QN77G, then click Update. The price will change to $0.00. Enjoy!)