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Costa Rica: Puerto Viejo
27 Nov 2013

With Laurence in tow and a full week of Bocas under our belts we decided to move on to Costa Rica, first stop: Puerto Viejo!

Puerto Viejo has a surprisingly heavy American influence and an uncountable number of yoga resorts. It was interesting to see that most of the signs were either in English or English/Spanish (in that order). It made it feel like we were in an American resort town, culturally-speaking.

One thing that was really fun to see was the jungle and wildlife therein. We saw monkeys, spiders with so many brains they spread into their legs, and got a tour of a local’s garden, complete with coconuts, peppers, and bananas.

Arrival

Nov 25, 2013

from Bocas del Toro, Panama

Departure

Nov 30, 2013

to La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Weather (Celcius)

Elevation (m)

The bus to Costa Rica

Monday, November 25, 2013 10:00
  • Woke up 7am.
  • Caught the boat to Almirante at 8:30.
  • Found out there was a strike on a bridge. Had to transfer shuttles at the bridge.
  • Customs was straightforward, no docs to present.
  • Arrived at 11:30am.
TotalsTotals
Total bus time3:00

Arrived in Costa Rica

Monday, November 25, 2013 11:25

We’re staying at Vista Verde right now. First impression is that it’s a little dirty though.

Vista Verde

Monday, November 25, 2013 12:00

$25 for a private room. We had a bug net around the bed but still had tons of bugs.

Veronica's

Monday, November 25, 2013 12:05

When we first arrived in Puerto Viejo we set off for some lunch and Veronica’s caught our eye with its vegan offerings (I’m not vegan, but vegan food is often delicious).

I ordered the casado (rice, stir-fried vegetables, beans and a salad) and energy shake. The casado was just ok, didn’t have much flavor and I was left hungry. On top of that you can get the same plate for half the price at one of the sodas, so I don’t recommend getting that here.

They did have dynamite home-made hot sauce though.

Final bill: $23 for two plates and two shakes.

Flip Flop Burgers

Monday, November 25, 2013 14:32

Wasn’t full from Veronica’s so we wandered around in search of other noms. Stumbled upon Flip Flop, a small restaurant with a patio, and got cheap hamburguesas!

Tasty Waves

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 10:55

Really tasty shells on their tacos and on Tuesdays it’s two for $4!

Biking!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 13:58

We borrowed bikes from Vista Verde and biked to the end of the road (12km each way). It was a really nice ride through the Costa Rican vegetation. We saw monkeys and giant spiders with brains in their legs. The town at the end was just ok.

First tasty coconut!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 14:44

While biking to Manzanillo a man waving a machete in the air with a patch on one eye called out to us. At first I was a bit apprehensive but then I saw the massive pile of coconuts beside him and called a decisive halt! I’d never eaten a coconut before and I was definitely not going to miss a chance to have one cut up for us by a pirate.

Bread and Chocolate

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 11:29

This restaurant should not be skipped on a visit to Puerto Viejo. Just off the main road, it’s easy to miss. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions. You’ll be delighted to have found it once you take your first bite.

We’ve had two meals there so far and are planning a third before we leave Puerto Viejo.

Our first meal was a breakfast (which they serve all day!) that had us reeling at their cinnamon and oatmeal-infused pancakes drizzled with home-made melted chocolate. And though they sound simple, their scrambled eggs are another must-try.

That same day we went back for more! For dinner we had their sandwiches, the jerk chicken sandwich notably being absolutely scrumptious. We walked away content and with a slice of chocolate cake in tow.

La Ruka

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 17:24

$30/night. The staff here are all American and super friendly. There’s a big open chill area downstairs and the rooms are upstairs. We had a private room with shared bathroom. There were cockroaches in the bathroom at night.

Prep Notes: Getting to La Fortuna from Puerto Viejo

Thursday, November 28, 2013 10:00

thebusschedule.com
A solid service for finding bus terminal locations and connections. Not sure how accurate the times are. It doesn’t seem to show all possible buses either.

Transportation from Puerto Viejo to San Jose

7:30AM bus from Puerto Viejo to San Jose arrives at 11AM.

Arrival Bus Station in San Jose:

Terminal del Caribe Calle Central y Av 13 Tel 2222-0610 or Autotransportes Caribeños via Google Maps

thebusschedule.com

Should cost between $4-8.
Source: http://www.puertoviejosatellite.com/transport.php

Transportation from San Jose to La Fortuna

Direct Bus

$3.76 (or C2,070) from San Jose to La Fortuna

6:15, 8:40, and 11:30am for the direct buses.

Departure Bus Station in San Jose:

Atlántico del Norte bus station at Avenida 9 and Calle 12

Make sure it passes through Ciudad Quesada.
Source: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/la-fortuna/733270

Multi-Stop

For later in the day, take a bus to Ciudad Quesada. Leave every 30 minutes from 5am-7:30pm. Cost is C1,445.
Then take a local bus from Ciudad Quesada to La Fortuna for C750. The bus company for the second leg is Transpisa.
Source: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/la-fortuna/733270

Pagalu Hostel

Thursday, November 28, 2013 11:37
  • $26/night
  • Hot showers
  • Clean water for C100/500mL
  • Clean kitchen/bathrooms/rooms
  • Central location

The right place to sleep can turn a desire to evacuate a location into an additional 48 hours of adventures and laughs.

We were becoming increasingly exhausted by Puerto Viejo’s more rickety establishments. Each day we’d wake up and beeline to Pagalu, having heard amazing things about it, and each day we were told that they were completely booked.

We decided to leave Puerto Viejo one night after not finding the joy in Puerto Viejo we were looking for and so we made plans to leave the next morning. When we woke up, we decided to try one last time to see if Pagalu had availability. A call via Google Voice was made and suddenly, our fate changed! A single room was available.

We hoofed ourselves and our bags to the hostel through the rain (so freaking happy we have rain gear) and were absolutely delighted by the room, the kitchen, and the bathrooms.

The room, like everything else at Pagalu, was incredibly clean, with a powerful ceiling fan and bug screens completely covering the windows (no holes here!). The bed was also an incredibly comfy queen bed and there was a safe in the room.

The kitchen is in the common area which was mostly open air and well-lit during the day. It had all of the basic cooking tools and a stove where every element worked and well, at that! They also empty the fridge once a week so we had room to leave our leftovers each day. They provided water at crazy cheap rate of C100/500mL (about 0.40/liter) so we didn’t have to keep buying bottled water while we were there.

The bathrooms were also a nice treat because they were well-lit and the showers had adjustable temperature settings. Consistently hot showers were very much appreciated!

All of this, combined with Pagalu’s central location, made this hostel our favorite of Puerto Viejo by far.

Stashu's con Fusion

Thursday, November 28, 2013 18:30

Thai/caribbean fusion.

The food here was absolutely delicious. Much of it blended sweet and spicy in a tasty way. We also had piña coladas and a ginger version of the piña colada that was delicious. Staff was friendly and the place was busy the whole time we were there.

They played a lot on the pun in the name, with “loco” hidden subtly in various ways and places throughout the restaurant.

Geocaching the Caribbean

Friday, November 29, 2013 15:00

Well that was certainly an adventure!

We set out to find three geocaches along the way to Manzanillo from Puerto Viejo. Given the distance we’d have to travel (16km) we rented bikes from a shop in Puerto Viejo for $4 each from 3-6pm.

The first two caches (GC4R70Q and GC4R71A) were a breeze, with gorgeous views of the Caribbean and short hikes.

The third cache (GC4R710) was the farthest one out at 8km, and it was already starting to get dark. This cache led us through a small neighborhood and then ended at a beach where a path clearly forked off into the jungle. We locked the bikes and began our trek!

The path was narrow and covered in brush, making it feel like we were explorers discovering an ancient path through the jungle. Along the way we found the apparent grave of the last pirate of the Carrrrribbean! After much clambering and sliding up and down muddy jungle trails we emerged on a gorgeous view of the ocean with powerful waves rocking the cliff face below us. It was like a moment from a movie :)

It started getting dark and we couldn’t find the cache, so we decided to call it a loss and head back. On the way, my bike started making weird clanking noises and at one point locked up. Thinking it temporary I continued pedaling, only to be rewarded with the chain falling off!

Ten minutes and many curses later, the fixed-gear bike’s chain was operational again, so it decided to commit seppuku by wrapping the front mud guard around the tire, completely destroying the wheel in the process.

So, 8km away from town, on a road with few streetlights through a jungle forest under rapidly-diminishing daylight, we started walking with the bike by wheelying it on its back tire. Couldn’t get any worse, right?

Again, as though right out of a movie, it started to torrentially downpour. Giant tropical rain drops began pouring down. Thankfully at this point Laurence had the sense to suggest we ditch the bike and ride the good one back together. We locked up the deceased bipedal on the side of the road and rode the survivor back as fast as we could manage (Burning Man training on my fixed-gear helped tremendously here).

We arrived in Puerto Viejo with ten minutes to spare but not a dry spot on our bodies or clothes. Thankfully the people at the bike rental shop were tremendously understanding and gave Laurence her ID back and started making calls to pick up the bike.

A quick walk home and a shower later, we high-fived to a successful, though soggy, adventure.

Bussing from Puerto Viejo to La Fortuna

Saturday, November 30, 2013 06:46

6:45am

Grabbing breakfast at Bread and Chocolate before we go!

7:30am

Boarding the Mepe bus to San Jose. One-way tickets were C5430. The bus stop was downtown by the water. We bought our tickets at a small stand near the bus stop.

8:47am

Stopping in Límon for a 20 minute food and bathroom break.

12:00pm

Arrived in San Jose. Grabbing a quick lunch at the bus terminal. Apparently the bus to Ciudad Quesada departs from this same terminal.

1:00pm

Jumped on a bus to Ciudad Quesada for C1800.

3:35pm

Arrived in Ciudad Quesada. Going to transfer to a bus for La Fortuna at 4pm.

3:49pm

Boarded a bus to La Fortuna for C1100.

4:00pm

And we’re off!

6:00pm

Arrived at La Fortuna!

Summary

$38 saved by not riding the $55 shuttle. Total travel time: 10.5 hours. Total bus time: 4:10 + 2:35 + 2:00 = 8:45

TotalsTotals
Total bus time8:45

Arrival

Nov 25, 2013

from Bocas del Toro, Panama

Departure

Nov 30, 2013

to La Fortuna, Costa Rica