Even if it was just a few days since we left the beach in Nicaragua we felt it was just fine with some more beach hopping on the Nicoya Peninsula. After a long day driving back roads again, this time from Arenal to Nicoya, we did find our way to Sámara Beach and Camping Los Cocos. Our home these days was as good as it gets, with this as the view from our penthouse bedroom window, and all for 12 USD a night J
We had some relaxing days on the beach watching the beach life with tourists, kayaks, surfers,
icecream sellers, horses, dogs, and the tide coming and going. While we were there it was full moon and the forecast said it would be the highest tide in a long time. The result came one day as the waves washed into the campsite, but that was no problem for us with a roof top tent.
One day, Franc and Isabelle with their friends from Switzerland, came to Sámara so that we could have a birthday celebration.
Espen and Isabelle actually have birthdays on the same day, and we thought it would be fun to celebrate the day together. We had a great evening with a great dinner and drinks, and now they are both one year older.
Our idyllic camp on the beach had kind of a decline as we got closer and closer to Semana Santa (Easter Holiday), which we had heard is the biggest Holiday in Costa Rica and actually in all over Central America. For Semana Santa everyone is going to the beach and many are camping. In the other Central American countries we have travelled through we have hardly seen any local’s camp. We have seen a few local campers and people sleeping right on the beach, but no one in tents. In Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua it was hard to find campgrounds, but as soon as we crossed into Costa Rica we found campgrounds again and even signs for them. On our first night in Sámara it was only us and one other tent, but as Easter Thursday drew closer it got more and more crowded.
One evening the sky suddenly opened up and it was pouring down with rain. We were sitting in La Manga restaurant eating the best Italian pizza we’ve had on this trip since it started. After waiting one hour for the rain to stop, we decided just make a run home. Completely soaked and getting closer to “home” the rain stopped.
Walking into the campground we could see that most parts of it had become flooded from the rain. One of the few areas that were not under water was where we were parked with our roof top tent popped up, and ,technically, we would be the only ones that did not need to be in a none flooded spot. Ironic. After the rain stopped it took only about half an hour for the water to drain into the ground, but many of the tents remained full off water. A few people left, but most people dried out their tents as good as possible and spent the night before they left the next day.
The next morning (Wednesday) we were woken up at 5 o’clock by a lot of noise and loud talking. When we looked out we got the feeling that we were in a refugee camp, except people were happy and energetic. People came down the driveway to the campground carrying, madrasses, cooking equipment, and “all” that they owned. Even big electric fans to put up inside the tents!! A bus must have arrived from San Jose with the Easter tourists we had heard so much about. It was incredible to watch 40-50 people in all ages put up camp at 5 o’clock in the morning. It got a little bit too crowded for our taste, and we decided to move on even if the owner said it would be hard for us to get out this day. But by moving only a couple of tents and some tables and chairs were we able to drive the Patrol out of the campground.
Next beach on our beach hopping tour was Islita, located in a nice bay, where we stopped for lunch and a swim in the sea. A little further south, at Playa Bejuco, we just stopped to have a look, and as we walked away from the car some people used the opportunity to pose for photos in front of the car while they thought we did not see them.
They are not the first ones to do it, and we guess we have to take it as a compliment. Our camp for the night was at Playa Coyote where a monkey peed on our car right after we stopped, but everyone else here were very friendly.
The drive continued down along the coast. As we were closing in on Manzanillo the GPS told us about a road going down to the beach and it was labeled “4x4 only”. We gave it a try, but didn’t know if we would be able to continue from there. Around a curve we saw this group of people with 4x4 cars and figured they must be the perfect people to ask for directions.
They were just as interested in us and the Patrol as we were about their vehicles, and we had a good chat. They had just pulled a Jeep out of the river a bit further down. The day before the Jeep had taken a few wrong turns and ended up in the wrong, muddy spot in the river and got stuck. Later on the tide came in and the level of the river raised, and you can see on the windshield the marks of the water level. Obviously the car would not drive anymore, and as we were there a truck came and picked it up. After a confirmation about being on the right road, and that it was just to cross the river at the right spot, we continued. The road led to the beach, and on low tide (as it was now) it was possible to drive 4-5 km on the beach down to Playa Manzanillo.
It was a beautiful drive.
In Malpais we found our perfect camping spot at Camping Mar Azul. For Semana Santa it was not very crowded, and we had power and internet in our site on the beach.
We stayed here for three nights, but we should have stayed one or two more... For some reason we decided to get the last bit of the Costa Rican Easter feeling, the rush to get back to San Juan the last day of the holiday. Right now we cannot tell what made us come to the conclusion that this would be a good day for a 380 km drive to Turrialba east of San Jose, but we gave it a try. A 7.15 start in the morning got us to Paquera just in time to catch the 9 o’clock ferry to Puntarenas (on a normal day). By taking the ferry across the Golfo de Nicoya we would save 180 km of driving. Well, as it was the end of Semana Santa the 9 o’clock ferry was full and left without us. We were not the only ones left on the pier for the next ferry at 11 o’clock. The ferry crew counted up and gave the 150 cars that would fit on the ferry passes, but we were not among the 150 cars. It was room for us on the 1 o’clock ferry though… The decision was made to do the 180 km drive around the bay. For the first 100 km there was not much traffic, but as we got close to the Pan-Am Highway it was full stop 4,5 km away from the intersection.
Finally on the Pan-Am the traffic was good for a few kilometers, and then it stopped. …and moved a little bit. …and stopped… At one point it got really slow and we hardly moved for another 4-5 km. The cause for it this time was not an intersection, but actually a Red Cross person at a first aid station handing out flyers?!!? It was probably for a good cause, but to hold up Easter traffic for 45 minutes is pretty incredible. After this we decided that this was not the day to drive past San Jose to get to Turrialba, and that it would be better to drive towards the Easter traffic. We took off from the Pan-Am and set our course to Uvita and Flytterby House further south on the Pacific coast. We had some friends, Georg and Andrea (www.toyotours.com) that had been there the last 14 days so we knew it must be a good place to stay.
Arriving at Flutterby after 11 hours in the car and 420 km was great and it was good to see friends again. Flutterby was a really cozy hostel and great place to relax.
Sofas to lie in and a nice kitchen for self-cooking, it was great.
Good to be cooking in a kitchen again and not just on a two burner stow outside the car.
After two nights here Turrialba is again our destination. This time we will get there!