Driving on Your Own in Costa Rica


We left Rio Perdido with several of our fellow tour travelers, were dropped off at the Liberia airport, went down the road, and picked up our rental vehicle, a brand new roomy SUV. We stopped at an outdoor restaurant–in most of Costa Rica the restaurants are outdoors with only a roof. Much to my delight they had my favorite Costa Rican beverage, cas, which seems to be served randomly here and there. I love the stuff–pale green, neither sweet nor sour, a type of guava.

We headed down Highway 21 toward Santa Cruz. This is cattle and sugar cane country with miles of lush green pastures along the way.

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Throughout the countryside living fences delineate one pasture or field from another.  Initially, when first built, they look like any other fence posts.  The difference is this:  they grow into trees.

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Looking at these photos, it seems hard to believe that we were there in the dry season.  Costa Rica is easy driving with good highways, speed limits, and very little of the mad, crazy driving one experiences in many countries.

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Even this far from the mountains, look to the east, and there they are under a canopy of clouds.  After arriving in Santa Cruz, we turned off onto a smaller highway (160) headed toward the tiny town of Paraiso where we had a near hotel disaster.  In September, I booked a hotel farther south on the Pacific Coast only to be notified one month before leaving that a mistake had been made and they had no room available.  Desperately I searched and searched and found one near Playa Negra.  Online it looked ok, not luxurious but ok.

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It even looked nice from the outside as you can see above.  Since there was no restaurant onsite, we headed out for dinner.  We had already passed through the little town and had seen several places.

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Here we ate some of the best pizza I have ever eaten.  When the waiter asked where we were staying, we told him.  At the time we never thought too much about his rather gloomy, “Oh!”

We went to the tiny local grocery down the road and bought food, shampoo, coffee, enough to tide us over for three days, and returned to our room.  The owners, a French couple, initially seemed ok.  Certainly, the woman did.  She had successfully started the air conditioner, welcomed us, was friendly.  His English was questionable, we do not speak French, and he refused to speak Spanish.  Unfortunately upon our return, the air conditioner no longer worked, there were no windows on one side for a breeze, and little ants were biting quite actively.  I went to talk to the couple.  He was not only uncooperative but eventually started screaming at my daughter, “Get out, just leave!” over and over and over.  He refunded my money; we left.

Here we were in the dark with nowhere to go.  I had visions of spending the night in the SUV, thinking at least we have a really nice vehicle to sleep in if we have to.  My daughter kept saying we would find something.  She had noticed a place down the road.  I kept thinking there would be no place because this is top tourist season.  We headed down the unpaved road, drove down a drive that indicated a hotel, and stopped by the reception area.  I went in but no one was there.  When I walked back out, my daughter noticed a young man walking up the drive.  Thankfully, I know enough Spanish to explain to him what we needed–he did not speak English.  I could not believe the good news:  they had a room for two nights (we needed three, but at that point who cared).  His key to the room did not work, he called the manager who appeared, let us in the room, and actually told me not to worry, I could pay the next morning.  It was the largest, nicest room of the entire trip.  Just wait for the next post to see how incredibly beautiful this place truly is–talk about luck, good karma…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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