Gallivanting around Costa Rica the past five days or so has really helped the brain juice. And, living in the jungle definitely has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
You see, fifteen days ago, all of my possessions were packed neatly in storage, handed the Jeep keys to a friend and off I went to Costa Rica, the first time without a home in the US and carrying one backpack, film gear and a laptop. Crazy as it may sound, not having a true time line and no place to live upon the return home has been nothing short of a liberating rush.
The first two weeks was full of challenges and more to come for sure, mainly the cultural differences as well as learning a new language. Or maybe, it was the stolen cell phone and losing all of my contacts or that most Costa Ricans think gringos are rich? But, after taking it all in and slowing everything down a few notches, I’m more grateful than ever to do what I’ve always wanted to do: Live in jungle, slow down, write and photograph. So far, I don’t have a cell phone or a landline, a watch or an alarm clock, so losing track of time and what day it is has become extremely easy.
The tree house is a great place to view wildlife in the jungle and having a bedroom on the top within the tree canopy is super cool. It’s totally a Tico house, with shells inlaid in the walkway, a cow skull, hammocks, cactuses and Guanacaste Trees, rose bushes and other neat stuff around the property.
The beach is a short 2 1/2-block walk down a dusty rocky road with two Spanish schools, two yoga shops and the very friendly and delicious Kahiki Restaurant & Bar on the corner. My neighbor Nicole is a yoga instructor and her cute 3-legged dog Luna keeps a watchful eye on the place. It’s a great place to live!
Costa Rica is definitely relaxing and as the locals say: “Pura Vida” which means Pure Life. And speaking about life, it’s WAY slow here. Everything happens in “Tico Time” or as some of you might know it as: “Mexican Time.” Things just don’t happen the way some American’s think it should happen.
Here, it’ll happen, when it happens…
From the veranda on the second floor of the tree house you can see monkeys, parrots, iguanas, parakeets, squirrels, and other interesting critters everyday. I’ve even learned to prepare a few Tico dishes and, it just doesn’t get any better than eating home cooking and hanging out with the camera in the jungle! The little brown building behind the house is where the washer machine is located and we hang our clothes on a wire to dry.
Along the coastline there’s lots of black Volcanic rock jutting out from the shore and islands and just the thought of living on a fault line 2 blocks or so from the ocean is exciting to me! I’ve always loved adventure and the most enjoyable things are not for the weak at heart.
So, last week I left Tamarindo and Langosta for the first real adventure on a public bus to the Nicoya Peninsula. Perhaps you’ve seen the little stickers on fruit at the grocery stores labeled “Nicoya”? The Nicoya region is plentiful with mango as well as other fruit and vegetables. A spectacular ferryboat ride with seagulls, brown pelicans, hawks, eagles, turkey vultures, and sea turtles highlighted the party on the boat. And, yes, there was definitely a party on the ferry! This way cool ferryboat has a bar and grill and many different decks to view anything and everything.
There’s also an air conditioning restaurant inside with soccer games on TV! Oh, by the way, Costa Ricans can party! When we finally arrived at the port city of Puntarenas, my new Tour Guide Yami grabbed my arm and said we’re going to eat dinner at Kimbos Restaurante Marisqueria & Steak House on the beach! It was the best meal I’ve ever had in Costa Rica. The appetizer was: Ceviche de Chucheca’s (Black Conk Ceviche) with plantains and the entrée Al Gusto: A La, Plancha, Ajillo, Mantequilla, Vino (mixed dish of seafood in butter, garlic and wine with a few veggies thrown on the top) Topping it all off with fresh Mango Margaritas and Pineapple and Rice drinks. I’m talking – The Bomb! Total tab $ 24.00 US.
Day 3: Left Puntarenas on Sunday and after a spectacular time traveled back to Nicoya on the ferry. Then, called my Tico buddy Gerald and his crazy friends in Santa Cruz to pick me up, so they did. You see, every year there’s a week long festival in Santa Cruz that’s famous for its rodeo, parades, bull fighting and overall — one big party! The road signs are very confusing and if you’re not watching out, you might wind up on a one-way bridge with on-coming traffic like we did! Potholes, narrow bridges and wild drivers are dangerous to everyone, especially to new comers! Anyway, Gerald and his amigos wanted to party. So – we did, until 5:00 in the morning in Santa Cruz! Ah, so that’s why everyone calls Santa Cruz –The Fiesta!
Hence my given name in Costa Rica is now, officially: Loco Gringo.
Stay tuned for more of Tony’s World……..
Colombia is a beautiful country occupied by some of the most passionate people on the planet. And, they love to eat and party! Passion runs through their veins like water in just about everything they do. Colombians – aim to please.
Monseratte was one of my first adventures in Colombia. Situated in the mountains overlooking Bogotá, the view is breathtaking as an alpine train makes its way to Monseratte for a spectacular lunch Colombian style!
Their food is similar to other Central and South American countries with rice and beans as the staple, fried yucca, avocado and array of fresh grilled meats that brings everything together like a giant happy family.
An ice-cold Club Columbian beer (my favorite) is recommended. Monseratte is a special place. There’s a church, gardens, restaurants and street vendors. The most interesting street vendor sold Coca products.
The coca tea is sold to relieve altitude sickness and the 8,200 foot elevation really hits hard if you’re not use to being that high up from sea level, so I drank a cup of that tasty tea and BAM – felt soooo….much better!
To top off an absolutely fantastic experience in Monseratte, the ride down the mountain in a Swiss gondola through clouds of steam for as far as the eye could see…
Click the thumbnails below for larger images.