Again, because I lived in Puerto Viejo for an extended period of time, it’s hard to recall everything, so on this page I will simply mention my favorite things about Puerto Viejo and why I lived there for as long as I did… The below is in no particular order..
- Absolutely my favorite place to live! Just down the street from Tasty Waves in Cocles beach, Cabinas Garibaldi was absolutely fantastic!!!! I can’t say enough about this place!!! They have short and long term rentals available and the family that owns the land and properties lives on site! Mancho (aka Martin) is the son of the elder woman Dona Rosa who originally owned the place. Martin along with his mom and wife take care of the property and no one messes with Martin! He once noticed someone trying to break into one of the bungalows and he chased him down with a machete in hand! No one since that event has tried to rob any of the places in Cabinas Garibaldi since:) Why do I love the place so much?? Simple: private apartment with kitchen, bathroom, hot water, WiFi, across the street from beach (literally) all for about $260 a month!!!!! The people were fantastic, my neighbors were great! Dona Rosa even did our bed laundry weekly… just superior and super place!!!
- Howler monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins, toucans, sloths, agouti, iguanas… Literally everywhere you looked nature was alive and beautiful around you!! Puerto Viejo literally was the perfect blend of beach and Jungle right at your finger tips… The nature there is just so captivatingly beautiful and alive! So splendid!
- Just north of Puerto Viejo was playa negra, the black beach, and as you moved into town the sand turned white all the way down the coast line to Manzanillo, the town furthest south in Costa Rica on the Caribbean coast. The sands were wonderful and the water was always warm!! Great snorkeling and scuba diving areas too! Only word of warning: beware the currents as they could be quite strong! Oh and lots of great surfing for those who enjoy either surfing or watching the hot bodies of surfers;)
- Everything was accessible by bike or public bus!! I never for one second missed having to drive a car anywhere!! I loved simply riding around town, to and from work, etc on a bike! And for those times where I needed to get out of town, public busses did the trick.
Caribe del Sol
- Located just outside my house in Cabinas Garibaldi (aka Anna’s front yard) was the best restaurant Caribe del Sol!! Great Italian cuisine and local casado menu!! The floor of the place was all sand so it felt as if you were just dining on the beach with a view of the beach while not getting soaked by sea spray:) The people were great and actually I just heard that the owner of the place married his long-time girlfriend (my friend as well) and moved to the States! So hopefully the place is still as tasty as I recall it being!
- I spent some time riding with the Caribe horse club and loved every second of it! You just simply can’t beat the views from horseback and the places you can get from the seat of a horse! Great jungle and beach riding on safe and fun horses!!
Dogs, dogs and more dogs!!
- Ah, I LOVE animals!! So to live in a place where all animals basically were wild and free, I absolutely adored it even more!! You see, while each dog had an owner, they were allowed to run free daily and do whatever they pleased! Run along the beach, beg for food, run rampant on the streets, etc. At night however, they all always seemed to simply disappear since most had an actual home where they would stay at during the night. Or if the owners were going into town, the dogs would accompany them and chill with them in town before turning in for the night! Each dog had their own personality and name of course, and you literally greeted them as if they were people wandering around town! Now of course, this kind of life for dogs while great was also rough… Many did get hit by cars, damaged by other dogs, get mange attacks, etc. and they were treated as dogs, not necessarily as family members as we tend to do in the States. So if an animal was injured, they wouldn’t necessarily be taken to the vet. It was just part of the jungle life!
- Ok, now the following is not in any way intended to be racist, so I don’t want to hear about people complaining about it being so! If anything didn’t work well or wasn’t quite working as it should, it was called “Jungle”… For example, the pool table in Tasty Waves was called a “jungle table” since it wasn’t quite level. “Jungle coffee” referred to coffee made in the morning that had floating ants in it because I forgot to put the sugar away in the fridge! (First time that happened I was appalled! Second and subsequent times I simply scooped the little buggers out and enjoyed my coffee:) Plumbing issues? “Jungle plumbing”…. you get the point!
Lazy Mon Sundays
- I’m sure I’ve mentioned somewhere else already how every night was a different businesses night to draw in the tourists and crowds. Well Sunday night was dedicated to the Lazy Mon hostel and restaurant almost smack “downtown” Puerto Viejo. It is basically an open-mic night where people can come to perform. Truth be told, it’s really more of a usual crew that come and perform for the tourists and my absolute favorite part of that show is the fire show!!! Several men and women dancing to music while twirling various objects on fire! Absolutely mesmerizing and was always a thrill to watch!!
A REAL community
- People took care of each other in Puerto Viejo in a way that I hadn’t yet experienced. People supported each other, their businesses, causes, etc. You really couldn’t get away with much! If you were a bad customer, didn’t pay your bill (many places allowed locals to run tabs and pay at later dates) or tabs or tried to screw someone over, everyone heard about it immediately and you would be shut out just as fast. Of course not every society is perfect, but the people were always friendly. People would look you in the eye and say good morning to you daily (imagine!!)!! The sense of community there was brilliant. You felt as part of something, and you did your part to take care of others as they did for you
- “Ahora” in Spanish means “right now”… This is a very general term in Puerto Viejo and really Costa Rica in general… If you want something done or are waiting for the bus and ask “when will xyz happen?” and are told “hora”… that could be anywhere from “now” to two weeks from now… if you are told “ahora” it could be anywhere from “right now” to about a day from now… Love that relaxed nature!!
- I don’t know what the heck they do to their meat but MAN, I absolutely LOVE street meat!!! Mind you, the street meat vendors only come out on the street as the sun starts to set because lord knows it’s way too hot to stand over a BBQ in the heat of the day, and luckily they stay open until the wee hours of the morning for all those stumbling out of the bars in search of something yummy to eat. Basically they only sell chicken or beef on a skewer. Sounds super simple, I know, but the spicy sauce they put on it is absolutely to die for!! You can get it extra spicy or just regular spicy (I always got it extra spicy!!)!! And I promise this basis of critique on the food is not because I was always drunk when eating!! There were in fact several times that I went into town just to purchase a couple skewers of street meat spicy chicken for my dinner completely sober!! My mouth is salivating at the very thought…