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Monday, April 15, 2013

Paddle-boarding With Crocodiles on the River Baru

On the long, hot bus ride back from Dominical last Friday, I felt a little like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, tapping her heels together, closing her eyes and chanting: "There's no place like home. There's no place like home." Although I love the beach life at this southern zone surfer's paradise, the climate was too hot for comfort this trip. As we left Dominical in our non-air conditioned (but otherwise comfortable) bus, the digital display above the front window said 38 ºC or about 100 ºF. Holy Hotcakes! That's West Texas weather! By the time we reached Atenas four hours later and two thousand feet higher in elevation, the temperature had dropped to 27 ºC or 80 ºF. No wonder Atenas is touted as having "the best climate in the world!"

Villas Rio Mar gardens
Dominical continues to lure us, nevertheless, because of its laid-back, low-key lifestyle and of course, our favorite hotel, Villas Rio Mar, where we enjoy comfort, good service and great food. The two sea bass dinners I had - one with garlic sauce, the other in almond sauce - were just outstanding.

Without a car for most of our trip (we rented one for the last day), Layne and I got in a short hike each day as we walked from the hotel to the beach area and back. Strolling along the beachfront road is a feast for the eyes, as you pass one vender stall after another filled with colorful beach towels, sundresses, shorts, tee shirts, bikinis, jewelry and handcrafts. We stopped at one lady's booth for a glass of delicious freshly squeezed orange juice. As you can see from her smile, Ticos are not shy about photographs.

On our trek back to the hotel, we looked out at the River Baru and noticed three people standing up paddling along on surfboards, apparently unconcerned about the signs warning of crocodiles in the river. Let's just hope they kept their balance as a dip in those waters might invite some unwelcome company. 

On the same hike Layne glanced across the river to the jungle beyond and suddenly stopped in amazement. Clearly visible through the trees was a very large airplane. How it got there we have no idea, although we later learned that it serves as a restaurant and sits alongside the road to San Isidro de General, so perhaps they managed to tow it into place. But the sight sure surprised us.

 The third and last night of our trip we joined dozens of locals on the beach to watch the sunset and meditate on the beauty and awesome power of the ocean. Layne and I had abundant opportunities to experience that power in our daily beachside trips, watching fearless surfers conquer 8- to 10-foot waves that then crashed mightily into us as we jumped breakers in knee-deep water. With the strong rip tides and undertow at Dominical, one must have great respect for the ocean and never turn your back on the rolling surf. A couple of big ones washed over us and had us scrambling to regain our footing before the next one hit.

As the sun's rays disappeared behind distant clouds, Layne and I walked over to our other favorite restaurant, Tortilla Flats, for dinner. While we were enjoying our meal, a deaf mute young Tico approached our table with a card explaining that he could make a number of different items using a palm frond. Our waiter confirmed that he did very good work and so we chose a basket. One can never have too many baskets, right? 

Watching the young fellow at work was amazing as he quickly but carefully wove the long green leaves into a lovely container. He only charged 3000 colones or about $6 but I gave him 5000 and considered it a bargain at that. 
As it dries, it will harden
Our waiter confided to me that the man gets depressed at times because of his disability, but he has been encouraged by his success in visiting local restaurants and crafting handmade artwork on the spot. We wish him well.

So it was good to be back in Atenas after our fun excursion to the beach. We fantasize renting a beach cottage in Dominicalito, an even smaller village just south of Dominical, and sharing our time between Atenas with its perfect climate and great friends and the Dominical area with its seductive beach ambiance. Pura Vida!

Check out Layne's book "Moral Turpitude," available for only $2.99 at High adventure with corporate intrigue, danger and romance; from the exotic jungles of Borneo and Costa Rica to the erotic jungles of San Francisco. Sample or purchase at -- 


1 comment:

  1. Great post, Kat! Not sure if you ever made it over to Panama, but if not, you should definitely put it on your to-do list.

    Hope the great state of TX is treating you well.