Monday, February 27, 2012

Costa Rica 2: Nicoya and Nosara

Note: Public travel in a foreign country is an experience. Rachel and I learned the backpacking way that buses take FOR-EV-ER. Naturally you can't just hop from one town to the other, and there's no red or blue line directly to your destination (as with the subway or metro). No, colors for these buses indicate level of comfort. Grey: you've got your own comfy seat and plenty of AC to calm the oncoming heat stroke. White: you still have a comfy seat, but make sure you're sitting next to a window. 'Nuff said. Yellow: WATCH OUT! Unless you are one of the first 5 people in line, this is standing room only and you will likely be riding with the groceries waaay in the back. Make sure you don't lock your knees cuz it's going to be a long 2 hours before you stop again. Needless to say, Rachel and I got our fair share of yellow buses. I guess they are called "chicken buses" because it isn't uncommon to have people bring their pet chickys with them. Hehe... actually I kind of liked the adventure.

But since we had to travel through our share of towns we decided to take advantage of it. From Tamarindo we took a bus to Santa Cruz, which then dropped us off in Nicoya. After many hand signals and lots of Spanglish, Rachel and I discovered that there were two buses leaving to Nosara that day (our final destination on this leg of the trip), one 30 mins from that time and one 3 hours later. So naturally we took the  later bus! And I'm so glad we did.

Nicoya is a charming little town tucked in the middle of the Nicoya Peninsula. It's main attraction is this old mission-style church. Unfortunately there weren't giving tours on Tuesdays, so we just showed ourselves around. 

Look at that majestic wood work! We were in awe at how simply beautiful it was. 

We also found these cool benches in the park outside of the church. They each had different native artwork on them. It has started to fade, but you can still see all the cool Indian-style details. 

After we finished walking around the church (and resting our heavy packs), we took a stroll around the town. I was excited to find this 'lil treasure!

I asked Rachel if we could stay the night there. Pleaded really. But she said it looked skeevy. "Pa-sha!" was my reply. How could ANYTHING named Jenny be "skeevy?" Silly Rachel. She wasn't convinced. Fine, next time I stop by Nicoya, that hotel is ALL MINE. Literally?

And then... we found a pastry shop. As you can tell from my expression I was totally in eating shock. My mouth wouldn't stop moving in on that bready stuff no matter what I did. Nom nom nom nom nom... Rachel couldn't pull that chocolate, cheesy goodness from my cold dead fingers. Yet somehow she found a way to make me share with her. She's cunning like that.

Sunburned Chikas in front of one of those fateful yellow buses!

Frutas! We didn't buy more of that stuff till later in the trip. We were too engrossed with pastries and such. Our digestive systems suffered from that choice. But hey, isn't it the cutest street style picture?

This is inside our rickity bus to Nosara AFTER we had passed our stop. You can tell by the way no one is on the bus that something was wrong. Very wrong. Eventually the bus driver told us to get of and go "that way." I swear he pointed in a swirly 45 degree angle direction. Luckily we found an English speaking cab driver who said he would give us a "good deal" of $20 to take us 5km. Ah-hem Mr. taxi driver, we may be gringos, but we are not stupid gringos. He took the price down to $10 - a "special price" for us. Had our skin been brown we may have been able to trade a chicken. But no such luck for lobster-skinned Americans.

This is where he dropped us!

courtesy of 

courtesy of 
Of course it was completely pitch dark when we got to "the Bueno," but we were given beds. Kind of. I was assigned a bed on the first floor. Somehow I knew I wasn't going to get any sleep that night. Maybe it was because the kids were already a lil tipsy, and they hadn't even gone out yet. So Rachel and I shared a twin bed that first night. After that I got my own bed upstairs. And now you know how to get really close to a travel mate ;). But the Solo Bueno ended up being a really cool place to stay. We met some fun travelers here and really enjoyed the laid back feel of this surf town. Basically we spent all of our time here on beaches.

I have to say it was the most beautiful beach by far I had ever been to. Crystal clear water, beautiful scenery wherever you looked, and pristine weather. 

Unfortunately we were still rather sunburned, so we found a tree to chill under. I got a great way through Freakanomics. Ahhh, I miss that calming moment.

Rachel found her new BFF. Mr. Hermy Crab. He was a little frisky - just kissed and ran! But we got it documented before he went too far.

And then we watched our first sunset on the Costa Rica coast. Oh my heavens it was beautiful. 

This Sasquatch-lookin hooligan is Boyd, one of the Dutch guys staying in our hostel. He was taking pictures of the surfers at sunset and we couldn't resist capturing the moment he strolled on by. 

And this is why people move to Costa Rica. To be apart of this picturesque moment.

We had a very fun/interesting stay at the Solo Bueno. Our hostel ended up getting robbed the first night while we were sleeping (we were the only ones unaffected because we locked up our valuables. One point for paranoia!!), and actually we didn't sleep much because our hostel-mates were quite the partiers. But that's what you get with $12 a night, right? But I'm still glad we went and stayed there. We cooked for ourselves a lot and we met a lot of really cool travelers at the Bueno. I had some great conversations about traveling, surfing and life. I also had quite the time convincing people that America was worth traveling to. Apparently Jersey Shore has done more damage than we think. Yipes!

But one of the best parts of going to Nosara was taking the ATV ride to Playa San Juanillo. It was our first real activity of the trip and boy was it a great way to start! Stay tuned for our ATV snorkel trip coming up next.

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