Our next destination was Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast. It is a 5 or 6 hour run down there so we were booked for a 6 am departure. However, when we got to the front desk of the Volcano Lodge after our day at the hot springs the staff said I was to call the transportation company for late breaking news. We, of course were hoping they were planning on a more reasonable hour, but as it turned out they said they would only be a half hour late. The clerk overheard this conversation, though, and when I hung up he said the kitchen would not be open that early, but they would be willing to pack lunches for us to eat along the way at no cost. Needless to say, we took them up on the offer and sure enough, two sack lunches were waiting for us when we hauled our carcasses up there a little after six.
So, I would be remiss if I didn’t make you aware of the excellent Volcano Lodge. This is the best place we stayed in Costa Rica and one of the best we have experienced anywhere. First, it is a large property. We were driven from the lodge to our room, otherwise it would be about a twenty minute walk. Here is what our place looked like:
There are two units per building and each room is quite spacious and even includes a TV with some English channels, the only place we stayed that did.
I should also point out that the rooms, grounds, restaurant, hot springs, everything is immaculate.
And there is a nice patio out back
Here is the view from the patio:
The volcano is right out back, so if she ever blows while you’re staying here you can count on being squished like a grape.
There is also a banana tree
But, they have a way to go before harvest time. Our room was toward the end of the property, but very close to the restaurant/pool/hot springs area:
The walkways are landscaped beyond belief
This is the entrance to the restaurant, the hot springs are terraced above. You just go up there and plop yourself in. In the mornings, the staff divert the stream, drain the pool, and sanitize the whole thing.
If you come after dark, these lights, which hang from a nearby tree, guide you to the path in.
The staff is so friendly that by the time we finished our short stay there we knew all of the waiters on a first-name basis.
And, there are flowers of every description:
Also, this is the staff who created the creatures we posted on Facebook:
It was just a joy to stay here. Of course, if the volcano blows, the joy would be substantially diminished. Pricey? You would pay much more per night for a room in Port Clinton in the summer. And WAY more to stay on South Bass Island.
So, anyway, the van arrived promptly at 6:30. Armed with our sack lunches and luggage we began the journey south.
Here is the first thing that did not escape our attention. Paved roads!
But here is also the blessing and the curse. Although the roads are paved, almost all the bridges are single lane. And this is a country with a lot of rivers. But everyone manages and no one who has been on the roads of Monteverde is likely to complain. I should add, by the way, that I would have been perfectly fine with renting a car for this leg of the journey. The roads are good and the signs are adequate enough to keep you out of trouble if you have a decent map.
This trip, even though on a main highway, was a chance to see Costa Rica off the beaten path. For example, rarely would we see a house like this:
(Sorry for the bad picture. The driver was not in a stopping mood). Typically you see houses like this:
This is a typical village:
Again, a child being walked to school. Always good to see:
All the way down Route 32 we had the mountains to our right:
As we got closer the Limon the scenery started to change. These were the first of many banana plantations we would see. Bunches of bananas are covered in blue plastic to help them ripen sooner and to protect from insects:
Limon is the second largest city in Costa Rica, population around 55,000. More importantly it is the only deep water port on the Caribbean side. It is a busy place:
There was also a much more noticeable change in housing:
Bars on windows and doors become commonplace. Generally not a good sign. Also, property upkeep appeared to fall below the standard seen in the villages.
Limon seems to have its share of problems. In a few days we will return and take a closer look. For now, we are off to Puerto Vijeo.