Saturday, April 17, 2010

Costa Rica!!!

We left San Juan Del Sur after several days of wind (25+ knots) through the anchorage. It was well protected from waves, but the wind was a little much. We got our zarpe (international clearance) for Costa Rica and headed for Bahia Junquillal. As we left the bay, the wind stayed at 25 knots and we covered the 20 or so miles in a little over two hours. Brady and I expected Costa Rica to be lush tropical jungle, but this far north was still very desert like. Our new anchorage gave us one nights break from the wind and when it built in the morning (gusts to 30), we moved one bay over to Bahia Tomas. This was not much better, so we headed over to Bahia Santa Elena the following morning. As we left the anchorage, we were met by 40 knot winds and hoped this move would be better. When we arrived, the wind was noticeably diminished, but a boat anchored inside informed us the gusts were up to 50 (#$%&). We stayed for several days exploring the trails and meeting new boaters (Paula Jean, Pacific Voyager and Emma Joe). We decided to move on to Playa del Coco to check into the country officially, despite the wind. As it turned out, the wind wasn’t so bad outside the bay and we covered the 38 miles before dark and found our first real gringo hotspot in Costa Rica. This a very cool town with lots of bars and restaurants (We recommend Coconutz for great atmosphere, live music, food and a pretty cool new owner-Hi Dan!). Oddly, there are four grocery stores in this small town and I found Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper for the first time in many months :) Unfortunately, this would be too expensive for us in the long run and you can expect American pricing and more if you visit. There are not many services on the beach (like food, chairs, umbrellas, or anything...), but overall we like the town. Costa Rica has built its economy around tourism, and other than the windy anchorages and the high prices, we have seen: turtles, dolphins, parrots, monkeys, manta rays, sea snakes, and a yet unidentified giant lizard. Hopefully, we will see plenty more of the sights while we are here. The next stop was Playa Tamarindo. This is another very cool town, but again, lots of gringos and high prices. Brady and I had a bit of trouble anchoring here since we are a bit short of anchor chain these days. This means that we have to put out most of the chain and then attach a rope (rode) to the end and then let out the rest of the chain and more rope. Then we have to pull on the anchor to set it and hope that we do not have to pull it all up and try again if the bottom is foul. We had to do that here and after anchoring twice, we were ready for some R & R. We have been on the same track as Danny and Paula from Paula Jean and we headed south together to Bahia Samara. Today, in this location we got a real taste of what our new lives are like. After homeschool, we snorkeled to the island that we were anchored near. After swimming back to the boat, we had lunch and towed Danny and Paula on their kayaks with surfboard in tow across the bay to the town. Danny threw in free surf lessons for the five of us and we were all up in a snap, with the girls being the quickest learners. They all rode several waves in and apparently we are now in the market for a surfboard and a kayak along with a new outboard for the dinghy. Next, we toured the town and then readied ourselves for the craziest return ever. The surf had built and the breaks were pretty stiff, so Danny and I pushed the dinghy out past the breaks and I motored in circles until Brady and the girls swam out. We towed our new friends back to their boat and had chicken tacos for dinner. We are all tired and are leaving again for Bahia Ballena en route to Puntarenas to pick up our first guests since Mexico! Wow, so much has happened since the last line! We went to the puntarenas yacht club to wait for Todd and Jessica and got groceries, propane and the laundry done. Puntarenas was a very local town with plenty of services. After we left, our first stop was Isla Cedros, an abandoned prison island turned park. The area was very dry and dead, but the prison was neat. We saw howler monkeys in the trees and a nice beach on the other side of the island. It was still early, so we went to Isla Muertos for the night. This anchorage was very calm, but there were no services for us or our guests, so after a quick dinghy trip and walking tour, we were off to Islas Tortugas. These were touted as highly visited with snorkeling and some of the best white sand beaches in Costa Rica. The water was murky at best and the beach was OK, but we stayed for about 20 minutes and then took the dinghy across the bay to the Curu biological preserve. This hike afforded us a fantastic view of the bay and capuchin monkeys. Brady pointed out some yet identified sloth like monkey creature that Todd hereafter referred to as a slonkey. The next morning, we were off to Jaco. This is another small town and the dinghy landing required the kids to bail out and swim to shore while I rode the dinghy like a surf board. One night here and off to Quepos. This town has the best services and is finally lush green. It is a short ride to the smaller town of Manuel Antonio and the national park of the same name. We passed on the park since Todd and Jess had seen it already and we will see it when both Brady’s mom and my mom visit in the next few weeks. Next was Dominical. This is a sleepy little surf town with bars restaurants and a well stocked store. There was a restaurant that overlooked the ocean on both sides and a great ice cream shop. We stayed a night and then back to Quepos to drop off our visitors. We did and saw a lot in a short time. We all laughed a lot, motored a lot, drank a few and had a great time.