- Sue Stipek
Costa Rica Nicoya Peninsula
We left San Jose around 10am for a 5 hour trip to Samara. Originally, I had intended to take the ferry from Puntarenas to Montezuma and drive along the coast - but indications were that ferries fill early and the drive would be mostly dirt roads and probably take 8 or more hours - so we opted to go around and take the bridge. That was an adventure as well. Once out of the city, traffic was heavy at times until well past the airport, but generally OK. Though a major highway, route 1 was no expressway with buses stopping and many small towns to go through.
Google Maps provided adequate directions but it once took as down a road that ran into a riverbed and then took us a direct route to our hotel - on about 3km of bumpy dirt roads - when the better way was mostly paved.
Our hotel was just outside the town of Samara. I was glad we had picked this place as an intown hotel would have been crazy. Samara is a surfing beach town with crazy traffic and a good amount of noise. The Colina Del Mar (Hill by the Sea), though a ways from the beach, is very pleasant and calm. The staff is most accommodating. One thing to note is that the hotel sits on a hill (hence the name) so you go up a very steep drive to get to the top and garden view rooms are about two levels down a long stairway. Though the stairway is gentle, it is a climb. I had made the mistake when I booked of requesting a garden view thinking that would be accessible, as I have knee problems. The staff was very accommodating to move us to an accessible level for a little more but I am very thankful.
The room has a lovely balcony overlooking the ocean where we can look down on the jungle and see many butterflies, birds, monkeys and a large variety of flora. The coast is much more mountainous than I had expected. But the hotel has a nice pool and it is a short drive to town and a large variety of restaurants.
Unusual for January (the dry season), the day we arrive is cloudy with light rains. We ventured into town from an early dinner arriving back to the hotel at dusk, the wind was whipping up and the rain started to down pour. We had noticed large thunderclouds off the ocean at dinner. Soon the electricity went out. For years I have carried a flashlight, but for some reason this trip I didn't, so we cautiously made our way to the reception area where a group of guests had gathered for an expedition to the turtle reserve with Brian, the resident naturalist/hotel clerk/breakfast waiter extraordinaire. We declined to go, what with the rain and all. But Brian said the rainy conditions would be prefect for seeing turtles and it is normally done at night as well.
Staying back in the dark, the only place with light was at the reception, so we kept Daniella, the desk clerk, company as we waited for the lights to come back on. She said it was a fairly normal occurrence and could last from a few minutes to maybe an hour. As we waited and talked, a praying mantis landed on Daniella and frighten her. We kept her company for a little longer as the rain persisted. The blackout lasted about an hour and a half. It rained off and on throughout the night but made for cooler temperatures.