Sunday, October 16, 2011

{Costa Rica 2011} - Day 11 - Puerto Viejo

There's something about those ocean breezes coming in your room window that makes you sleep like a rock.  That and mass quantities of pasta and wine. :)  Regardless, Tony and I slept beautifully in our Red Frog room and were ready to start our final full day of fun in Costa Rica.

A stay at the Hotel Banana Azul includes breakfast which was a different fresh fruit juice offering daily, coffee, cereal, pastries, fruit and a special hot breakfast item made to order.  Breakfast was delicious both days and the staff was wonderful.

After breakfast we headed out in search of a beach.  Tony's dad thought he had an idea of where we were going but we couldn't seem to find a good swimming beach in the areas he was looking.  I had mentioned to him that the Cahuita National Park beach but he wasn't sure where that was.  We eventually found it and it was heaven.

Cahuita National Park beach.

The beach was pristine and I'm not sure if it was high tide or what but we could walk out forever and still not be deeper than out chests.

Tony and his dad and Johanna about 100ft from shore.
We once again, found a perfect shade tree and set up our towels for a lovely day at the beach.  I could have stayed there forever.  I knew better than to be out in the water for long periods of time given the sun and my ability to instantaneously burn, but I couldn't help it!  It was so lovely!

My natural sunscreen...the shady spot.
It wasn't as calm as Manuel Antonio but it was still amazing.  Being able to walk out to where the waves were just coming over top of themselves and having them come over you versus having them crash into you closer to shore was cool.  Just a different feeling.  I really didn't want to leave.  At all.

Standing in the water, taking a picture of heaven.
Look how clear the water is!  I was out about 25ft from shore.
Beauty in every direction.  And soccer on the beach!
Our shady spot form the water.

Eventually, we had to leave.  :( But on the way out of the park Tony's dad bought me a coconut so I could drink my beloved coconut water straight from the source!  Best coconut water ever! And it was like a dollar. What a deal!

Fresh coconut + straw = Happy Kim.  And look, no sunburn!
Side note, under that bridge is a little river.  And there are crocs!
All that swimming and relaxing made us hungry. :) Our next stop was another restaurant that came highly recommended by the guidebook and was just down the road from the beach.  Restaurante La Fe Bombata is a Caribbean restaurant that looks deceptively simple but it's clean and welcoming.  Take a risk! Go in and you'll be SO glad you did!

Restaurante La Fe Bombata

We were the only ones eating there in the middle of the afternoon and they let us bring in the beers we'd been drinking.  They were incredibly friendly and were happy to recommend dishes for us.  I'm fairly certain I couldn't go wrong with anything on the menu, however.  I got the shrimp coconut curry-ish dish.  They're famous for their coconut sauce and for good reason.  I wanted to stick my face in the bowl.  It came with a huge bowl of the shrimp and sauce and a plate of rice, salad and BREAD FRUIT.  OMG.  Can someone please tell me where in the hell to find bread fruit here?  It's literally a fruit that has the consistency of a dense bread.  I used it to mop up the sauce instead of licking the bowl clean.  :)  Of course, I had a tasty blended, boozy drink to go with it.  Look at the table, Pepsi in a glass bottle with real sugar, Imperial, blended tropical drink, coconut shrimp (mine), coconut chicken (Tony's), and of course sunscreen.  Can't get much better than that! :)

Caribbean meal to die for.

Not only was the staff okay with us bringing in our own beer, but they were actually excited for us when we went and bought patí from a guy selling them in the street.  I had to go buy one from this guy.  He'd ring his bell on his bike and people came from all over the place to buy his patí.  Patí is a very specific kind of empanada type thing that is specific to Limón.  A random dude on the street outside the restaurant saw me looking from the table and he told me they're the best patí I'll ever have and I needed to buy one.  Johanna and I went and bought some for our table for a total of four dollars and the hype was totally worth it.  They were filled with spicy meat and were freaking amazing.  The waiter of the restaurant told us that he's glad we got some because they're the best in the region and we'd be missing out if we didn't.  All of the people raving about them were locals that waited for him to come out and ring his bell every day.  So, not only did we bring beer into the restaurant but food, too!  And they were happy to let us!  Pura Vida indeed. :)

The patí from the street vendor.  I'm drooling.
After our meal we headed back to the hotel to relax in the pool and clean up a bit.  We also had our free drinks from checkin that we needed to use!  Tony and I grabbed some beers and headed to the pool!  We had plans to go to dinner at a famous seafood restaurant called Maxi's, but first we tried to find a sunset (again).  Tony's dad had "borrowed" a bottle of the nice Argentinian wine that we'd had during our dinner at Tony's grandpa's, so we took that to a table on Manzanillo beach on the way to the restaurant.

Fancy wine out of thermal mugs.
While not as pretty, it gave us a chance to chill and hope for the sunset in relative seclusion. There was even a tree with a branch perfect for photos!

Me and Tony at Playa Manzanillo.
Again, no "real" sunset.  Oh well, it was still pretty!
After our time at the beach we headed to Maxi's for a seafood feast!  As soon as we got out of the car you could smell the wood oven they used for the fish, and I swear there was some pot smoke mixed in there.  Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me! :)

Maxi's is famous for it's seafood so I had high expectations.

Maxi's at Playa Manzanillo.

We were pretty much exhausted before, during and after this meal.  Instead of beer I opted for coke in a glass bottle with real sugar. MMM.  Hoped it'd help me perk up, but no...caffeine does nothing to me. :)
Also, it was hot like fire in that upstairs dining area so that didn't help.

Sleepy.  And sweaty.

The food was good, but it was no Café Viejo!  The meal started with a special appetizer of little plantain bowls loaded with guacamole and bacon.  The lighting was bad so I apologize for the unflattering pictures.

Plantain appetizer.

I went with a mixed dish of whole red snapper and lobster.  Hey, if they're going to be known for lobster and the red snapper is also very popular I'm gonna try both!

My lobster and red snapper.

The red snapper was the highlight of my meal.  It had a great crust on it and a nice smokey flavor from the wood grill.  They're also supposed to be known for their rice and beans but I wasn't a fan.  There were far better rice and beans dishes at other places we visited during the trip.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep for our drive back to San Jose the next day.  I'm so glad that Tony agreed to take me to the Limón province and that his dad was willing to drive us.  That part of the country is truly unique and I had an awesome time.  And I think the food that we had was some of the best of the entire trip!  It's definitely worth the time to get there.

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