Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Last Stop, Quepos!

Our last Costa Rica destination was in the quaint little town of Quepos, just an hour drive south of Jaco. Another 5 street town sitting right on the Pacific Ocean and known for it's pristine National Park- Manuel Antonio.

We thought we'd get to the hotel, return the car, have some lunch and hang by the pool for the day but upon arriving at the Hotel Sirena we found the pool not to have much lounging area and the two chairs it did have were already in use. Additionally the advertised tiki bar was not a bar at all without even a bottle of the national spirit Guaro behind it. 

So we killed some time until we could get into our rooms to unpack, by having lunch at the popular restaurant El Gran Escape. The food and drinks were good but the vibe is "big US theme restaurant" attracting lots of game fisherman, another thing Quepos is known for. After lunch we walked over to Cafe Milagro where delicious coffee is roasted and picked up as many bags as I thought my luggage would hold.

We finally got checked in and were able to spend some time in the refreshing pool. Although the hotel was not bad it was a bit more "budget" than other places we had stayed. It wouldn't be until we drove up the hill towards the park that we realized very few people stay in Quepos proper, most of the hotels are on the road between the town and the park. For this we would have needed to keep our car or rely on cabs as it isn't safe to walk along the busy road- an FYI for others traveling to this area.

That evening Dayne made us aperos, finally giving the bar a chance to really be a bar! And then we went walked all of 1 block and had a very good dinner at a little spot called Monchado's, under the mural of two Latin soap opera stars who resembled Donny and Marie. This place had some of the best Guaro sours of the trip! And then because we arrived back at the hotel to find it completely closed up at 10pm, we made nightcaps in the girl's room. Tiki bar... hardly!
We were all really excited for the next day's adventure- we were going horseback riding for the morning. In this area the jungle meets the ocean and the landscape is very different than the other regions we had been in (so much diversity for such a little country!) and we were looking forward to seeing it by horse. After a little morning mix up regarding reservations we were picked up by one of the partners of Valmy Tours, Valentin. We saddled up and away we went.


The horses were fantastic! Well trained but not following each other blindly, they were strong and well taken care of. The was the first time I've ever rode a horse without a bit in it's mouth, not that I ride that much (or well for that matter). We followed a river through lush forests, most of the land belonging to the family, and after about an hour got off to hike to the first of 2 waterfalls.
At the second waterfall Dayne and I went for a quick dip in the refreshing pool. The water was clear and pure. This country is all about the waterfalls!

On our way back to the farm our small group split up so those of us who wanted to trot, cantor and gallop our horses could. We were back in the river and the horses were giddy to be trotting and splashing water all over everyone. Then we came to this big hill with mud as deep as the horse's knees. Have I mentioned how big and strong these animals were? Our guide told us to just follow him and give a little kick. Holy hell!!! These horses shot up that hill and sliced through that mud with a passion! I held on for dear life while whispering in my horse's ear that we could slow down a bit if she liked. Dayne's stallion carried him up the hill like a child. And I heard a lot of "whoa, whoa, whoa" from Forest! We were covered in red mud from hooves to helmets. At the top of the hill we slowed to a cantor and finished up back at the farm. It was a really great ride!
A small but tasty lunch was provided back at Valentin's casa where we got to taste a local liqueur and gaze at the gorgeous countryside.
That evening we set out to celebrate Forest & Kate's birthdays, we started at El Avion for cocktails inside the big old C-123 cargo plane that was originally purchased during the Reagan Administration's covert Contra aid. The plane was abandoned in the Costa Rica jungle and now is a popular restaurant and bar overlooking the sea.
After a few drinks we grabbed a cab and headed way out on a dirt road, through the hills and towards the ocean for dinner at Ronnie's Place , I don't know quite how we heard about this but it was great! They have a large open air dining room, (I'm sure) fantastic views at sunset, and really nice service.

The food, like whole fried bass, was all delicious and upon hearing it was the girls' birthdays they served dessert with flaming sauce! It was Kate and Forest's last night in Costa Rica and a great way to wrap it up for them. Dayne and I had one more adventure packed day, stay tuned!