Thanks to a generous invitation from my ever-gracious host, I got to tag along on a trip to Playa Jaco. I couldn't pass up a weekend at the beach. I mean, this is why I came to Costa Rica! We piled into a van and hit the road by 6 AM. Juan, Marta's brother, made the two and a half hour drive into an adventure in and of itself. Driving in Costa Rica takes a mix of courage and insanity, and Juan is a pro. The road from San Jose to Jaco is narrow, steep, and curvacious. It provides a fantastic view of the mountains. We stopped along the way to look at a group of crocodiles laying in a stream beneath the road. Later we visited some fishermen and Juan talked them into selling us a bunch of red snapper. Fresh fish, right off the boat. We would eat well that night. The trip was off to a great start.
A couple of hours later, and there we were - at the beach. The guidebooks all say Jaco has become "too touristy." Well, if it is, then I can't wait to see some of Costa Rica's more secluded spots, because I didn't think it was that bad at all. Sure, they've cleared some trees to develop the land and build some hotels and restaurants, but it's nothing like Myrtle Beach or any of the other tourist traps in the US. I was told that during the major holidays, like the upcoming Easter weekend, the beach is absolutely covered with people. But it wasn't very crowded while we were there.The water was perfect. It was so warm and comfortable. The Sun got to be a bit hot, but there was plenty of wind to cool us down. I went for a walk to enjoy the scenery. By the time I got back, the family was ready to get out of the heat for awhile, so we went back to our cabinas and lounged by the pool. That night, we had a magnificent feast of fish (with gallo pinto, of course). Afterwards, a few of us decided to check out Jaco's nightlife. We hopped from bar to bar, enjoying cheap cervezas and plenty of eye candy. Then we noticed something strange at one place. There were many beautiful women, which wasn't too odd; however, they were all hovering around old white men. In fact, they were leaving with these men. A waitress at another place confirmed our suspicion: The Beatle Bar is a notorious hangout for Jaco hookers. We moved on. I convinced a companion to join me in a shot of guaro, Costa Rica's unofficial national liquor. It wasn't as harsh as I expected. I'm still partial to bourbon, but I could get used to guaro. The local beer, however, was surprisingly good. Much, much better than the standard American beers. I'll describe them in more detail in a later post, but I can tell you with great certainty that they all go down quite smoothly.
Sunday, I decided to give the family some space and wandered around the beach by myself. There are few things in life that are better than laying on the beach, drinking a cold beer, and listening to the crash of waves. I stayed there all day so that I could watch the Sun set over the Pacific. At that moment, I realized: This makes it all worthwhile. All of the job interviews, all of the long bus rides around the city, all of the struggles to communicate, all of the hassles are so that I can enjoy times like this. Life is good. Pura Vida!
I scoped out some hostels that I could possibly stay at for future trips. Most seem to be around 25 bucks for a private room. A bus ride from San Jose to Jaco is only about 3 hours and 3 dollars. I think that's very do-able for a weekend trip. I'm already looking forward to going back.
Labels: costa rica