Day 6 From the Mountain of Death to the Pacific Coast
Pura Vida Costa Rica
More winding mountain roads lead us gradually downward to warmer temperatures and the Pacific coast, past the “hippy” community of Dominical. Many Americans live and vacation here we learn from our driver, Marcos, though his English is about as good as our lack of Spanish. The Lookout Inn near Ballena Bay is perched on a bluff overlooking a beach in the distance. We are greeted with, “Do you have a reservation?” The young girl at the desk seems surprised at our arrival and we sense that this hotel will be the only down side to an otherwise flawless itinerary. Christine, cousin to the owner and newly in from California, wonders who booked us and scrambles to find us rooms. “The kitchen is closed,” we’re told, but sandwiches are offered and appease us at their open-air bar overlooking the pool.
Where is our local guide and promise of an afternoon at the renowned Ventanas beach we wonder? As the day slips by and no sign of the hotel owner, Christine volunteers to take us to the beach herself. We pile into her car and she drops us off about three miles away in a parking lot. We walk about a ¼ mile on a trail cutting through private property, eventually opening up on a small, grey sand beach being pounded by huge waves. At 3:30 pm the skies are overcast and the sands are sparsely populated but we are happy just to be out of a car and on a beach. Ruggedly nestled in a small bay, Ventanas beach also boasts two caves which we investigate before the tide fills them with its roaring surf. After wading along the shore and skirting the many small crabs running underfoot, we notice that other people have deserted the beach. The rainforest of palms and coconut trees edging the sand grow darker as the sun sinks and a light rain begins to fall, so we decide to head back. We are surprised to find that we are locked in by a gate and barbed wire fence, a good hour before our ride is scheduled to return. Scaling a stone wall, the four of us scramble over the enclosure and hike a mile along the busy road to the nearest phone at The Twisted Toucan, a local bar. We’re laughing that this really is an adventure when Christine answers our call to be picked up at the bar.
Returning to our hotel we check out the dilapidated pool with crumbling cement and a few lazy bugs swimming the surface. Hot and sweating in the humid air, we decide that the pool is still inviting enough to enjoy. Giant buzzing cicadas and huge grasshoppers that remind us of the insects from Men In Black, entertain us at dinner in the open air restaurant while the local caged parrot whistles and sings, “Hello! Ola!” Our personable waitress, Hannah, charms us with her accented English, lovely smile, and attentive service. Determined to make the best of our stay on the South Pacific coast, we arrange for a zip line tour at the national wildlife refuge, Hacienda Baru, for the following day.