The past week was Semana Santa, the most celebrated holiday here in Costa Rica. The Costa Ricans celebrate it by spending time with their families at the water. All of the usually uninhabited beaches and rivers were covered with tents, vehicles, and people. If there was water, there were Ticos.

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Rio Barbilla, Braulio Carrillo Highway 32, Costa Rica

For this holiday, Julio got an extra day off of work, so we decided to celebrate by taking the dogs and the Samurai down to our favorite town, Puerto Viejo. We love this Caribbean town because of it’s laid back, unpopulated, untouristy vibe. It’s a fantastic place for low maintenance, easy-going people from all walks of life. The NY Times just published an article on our town – I hope this doesn’t mean it will get too popular like the Pacific Coast.

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Signs in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

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Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica at night

We left Alajuela Tuesday night around 1am and made it to Puerto Viejo at about 5am. That is good time for the Samurai – Julio really knows how to drive that thing. All 4 of us stayed with Cecilia, the mother of one of Julio’s closest friends. She owns a few rustic cabins and a laundromat across the street from Rocking J’s (i.e. across the street from the beach). Cecelia’s cabins are really nice for their location (they are clean and you have your own bathroom and kitchen). We were super lucky because a man who booked one of her cabins did not show up. In fact, the entire town of Puerto Viejo was booked last week and all the beaches were covered in tents. I have never seen it like this before. There were so many people there that it was nearly impossible to drive through the streets at night and we were not even there on the weekend!

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Julio and the Samurai in front of Cecelia’s cabins, may 2009

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Samurai in Puerto Viejo, march 2010

It rained all day Wednesday, which was fine, because we love the rain and really needed a day of lazing around. Our perfect lazy day was topped off with dinner at Flip Flops, a world fusion food restaurant owned by a sweet German expat named Sabine. The food was phenomenal. I had the green curry – yum! The only problem I had was with the sign out front – it said “fast food”. Most definitely not fast food. There is no fast food in Puerto Viejo. After dinner we sat in front of Monita Bonita’s Restaurant and Bar, taking in the sights. It is one of our favorite places to hang out at night in Puerto Viejo because it is a prime people watching spot.

The next morning the sun was shining bright and we walked to Bread and Chocolate for breakfast. Another score with the good eats! Their scrumptious original recipes consist mostly of organic, home grown food and your coffee is served in it’s own little french press. I had creamy eggs, fruit, and a home made whole wheat biscuit. They also have a variety of yummy fruit drinks 🙂

We didn’t need fruit drinks, though, because we had our own fresh fruit ready for metamorphosis into frosty beach cocktails! Pipa Fria con Centenario, coconut water with Costa Rican rum = yum. We sipped on these while we played in the natural swimming holes that dot the edge of the shore where the waves break. Then we took a walk along the jungle shoreline to Playa Cocles – a beautiful, clean, white sand beach with lifeguards and good waves for surfing. Not long after we got there, Julio noticed 2 girls drowning in the rip tides and saved them by calling the surfer’s attention to go to their rescue. eeks. After that incident, the lifeguards put the red flags up all over the beach. So no swimming, but plenty of surfing.

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A mixture of sand & rock, forming shallow pools & deep swimming holes.

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Rock and sand beach in Puerto Viejo

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Julio, Mocha, and Pelulu sitting on a rock in front of a really deep swimming hole

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Pelulu’s reaction to the sand is to wallow in it like a pig in mud.

Our day was topped off by dinner at Loco Natural, one of my favorite places to eat dinner in Puerto Viejo. It is another World Fusion themed restaurant (…come to think of it, Puerto Viejo is world fusion) in which the entrees are characterized primarily by the variety in sauces: Thai peanut, Indonesian-Caribbean curry, Mexican chipotle, Jamaican jerk-style, or Malaysian-guayaba curry. And of course, they too have super yummy drinks. Since it was Semana Santa, the restaurants were only serving fruity cocktails, so I tried the frozen Ginger Pineapple cocktail – delicious!

After dinner, we hung out downtown in the Samurai, watching the hordes of people partying in the streets. I had the best time with Julio – we laughed hysterically all night long. Pelulu and Mocha had a great time, too – when it was finally time to go home, they were completely exhausted. Still no whining from Miss Mocha.

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Mocha was so tired that she could not even lift her head to eat dinner – she rested it on the edge of her food bowl while she ate out of the side of her mouth.

The following day, we drove back to Alajuela along a different route. Definitely the road less traveled, it was mostly dirt. This was the road everyone use to take to the Caribbean coast before highway 32 was built (highway 32 is one of only like 15 roads that have names here). We traveled this way for a couple of reasons – to see new sights and so Julio could show me Pejivalle, a town that we might possibly want to own property in. It sits in a somewhat flat central valley located near Volcan Irazu, Volcan Turrialba, and the Pacuare River. Julio says that Pejivalle is very similar to how towns were in Costa Rica before roads were paved 40 years ago – clean? quiet? …not really sure what that means…I suppose I’ll find out soon enough.

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River near Pejivalle, Costa Rica

Speaking of clean…the last leg of our trip was on the road that borders the circumference of San Jose – GROSS. There was trash everywhere. The smell was so bad it almost made me sick. Julio guesses it is trash from people that do not have jobs. You have to pay to have your trash taken away, so if you can’t pay, what do you do with it?

Besides the trash, we had a fantastic Semana Santa. Julio and I really needed a break from all the stress of my move down here and the stress of the construction here at the house. We spent the last couple of days resting up from our trip while listening to the sounds of the city party – families hanging out, children yelling, horns honking. beep beep.