Puerto Viejo’s Best Kept Secret

November 7th, 2009
Right down the road from Playa Chiquita

Right down the road from Playa Chiquita

September and October  in Playa Chiquita are a blessing. July and August- with their hoards of honeymooners, European family vacations, constantly changing weather, and general busyness- leave us, and the rest of the coast, happy to indulge in glorious September.

A perfect day on Playa Chiquita Beach

A perfect day on Playa Chiquita Beach

The sea grows still, clear as the desert sky. The rain ceases for the most part and when it does decide to dampen us, spills only enough to feed the thirsty plants and make everything more green and cool. The sun quickly breaks through the clouds and the water reflects turquoise again. The delicacies of the tropics enjoy the weather as well and some of the most exotic trees begin to fruit. Unique and delicious mangosteen and mamonchino fill the Saturday market.

September in Puerto Viejo brings us many a mangosteem

September in Puerto Viejo brings us many a mangosteem

The honeymooners are figuring out what it’s like to just be married, the European family vacationers are back to school and we are on the beach admiring the beauty and tranquility of Playa Chiquita. We cannot see another person along the winding stretch of golden sand. Business may be slower but we have time to appreciate where we are and what we are doing. We have time to get things done. We think about our progress and imagine the future. We go out to diner with friends and sometimes even guests. I think I’ll go snorkeling tomorrow.

A Local Costa Rican Artist

November 3rd, 2009
A chain saw, sander and blow torch are all you need

A chain saw, sander and blow torch are all you need

David, a local artist from Hone Creek has helped to make Tierra de Sueños something special.  Each bungalow is adorned with hand carved beds and beautiful mosaics, both of which are done by David.  Whether it’s a bed, table, mirror or post, you think of the animal or design and he’ll carve it.  We were familiar with his work already from the bungalows, but would never have guessed how he actually does it until we saw it with our own eyes.  Without doing any drawings or prep work at all he cranks up his chain saw and goes to town. Once he has all the outlines of the shapes done with the chain saw, he works them down with a sander and shades with a blow torch.  And voilà

Casa Colibri gets a plump iguana

Casa Colibri gets a plump iguana

Casa Colibri translates to humming bird house

Casa Colibri translates to Humming Bird House

the humming bird strikes again

the humming bird strikes again

Ginger

June 27th, 2009

Meet the newest member of the Tierra de Sueños family…….

Ginger!

We were expecting some puppies in the neighborhood after seeing Cody, our big jungle dog, having his way with our neighbor’s dog in the middle of the road (this is the way things are done here apparently).

Two days ago Brendan went to pay his respects to the off-spring and ended up coming back with one of the puppies in hand. How could he resist? She is insanely adorable and I, who never even liked dogs, am completely madly in love!

Ginger is of course a huge hit with the guests and is proving to be a perfect addition to Tierra de Sueños.

First morning in her new home.

Enjoying her favorite past time.

First trip to the beach with dad.

Life is good!

A Tribute to Mothers

June 1st, 2009
Bri Bri Waterfall

Denise, JJ, Keisha and Brendan at Bri Bri Waterfall

May is the month when leatherback turtles come to the shores of the Carribean coast and lay their eggs. The neighboring wildlife refuge (Manzanillo-Gandoca) is home to the leatherbacks and serious efforts are being made to protect these incredible reptiles. According to the Leatherback Trust, in 1980 there were more than 115,000 female leatherback turtles and now less than 25,000, even becoming close to extinction in the Pacific. Unfortunately, the turtles have a rather beautiful shell perfect for making costly jewelry and the eggs taste pretty good as well so we humans have had made our impact and only in recent years have regulations been made. These impressive creatures out date humans by a million years and know what the earth looked like with dinosaurs running around. Needless to say, we were all excited with the possibility of seeing one of these beasts.

We decided to make a day out of it and piled our friend Denise, her 4 year old twins, boyfriend Matias and Adam Harr who was visiting from DC into the rumbling Galloper for a rainforest adventure. For a pretty penny you can take a 30 minute boat ride from the town of Manzanillo to Gandoca beach, but we decided to drive up around and down on bumpy roads to get there.
Next time we’ll take the boat. We stopped along the way at the BriBri water falls. The twins had never been to this rather large waterfall and after much excitement and anticipation when we finally reached the massive falls (you have to hike for about 30 minutes in the jungle) the girls started screaming and crying not wanting to go near it. With a little coaxing we got them to get in with us and the screams of fear turned into screams of laughter. It was adorable.

Back in the car we continued to the border of Panama where we dipped back in towards the sea. The viewing of the turtles is all very official since this is a preservation project and so we hired our guide, put on our black clothing and walked into onto the dark beach to begin our search. The turtles come in at night so it is best to go out after 8pm. Our guide was a cool young guy who had a lot of information about the turtles and the area and told us about how they are collecting the eggs after the female comes and lays them to put them in protected incubators (buckets) in a sectioned-off part of the beach that has 24-hour surveillance.

Puerto Viejo Activities

Puerto Viejo day trip

He took us down to show us the project and there were about 10 young teens with “staff” shirts on hanging out. They were all local volunteers which was nice to see since those where the same kids eating the eggs last year. Some of the buckets were placed under the shade and others in the sun. Apparently sun or shade, in other words temperature, decides the sex of the turtle. A volunteer came around saying there was a turtle a ways down the beach and so we trudged down and lo and behold there it was! A 6 foot long, 4 foot wide turtle digging a large hole in the sand in preparation. We crept up behind her trying not to get in her field of vision and watched in awe as the ancient reptile worked. The guide told us that she still had some time before actually laying eggs and that there was another turtle further down that we should go check out.

Down the beach another massive turtle was flapping those powerful flippers, heaving her 1500 pound body across the sand in search of a good spot to lay her eggs. The guide explained to us that the tide had been weird that week and the water level was different than usual so the turtle kept finding water as she dug and she would not lay her eggs in water. She began to painstakingly head towards the sea when at the last minute, she started back towards the sand. Our guide thought this turtle was crazy. “Tortuga Loca!” It was clear she did not want to give up that night.

It is hard to describe how enormous these turtles are and the struggle it can be for the females to perpetuate life. And still after years of traveling far distances in the sea they come back to the very same spot they themselves hatched, an intuition nobody fully understands, and continue the life cycle that has been going on for a million years. We were on the Gandoca beach with the great leatherbacks on Mother’s Day, a spectacular tribute to motherhood indeed.

Sorry, no photos are allowed to be taken of the turtles so you will have to come experience the wonder for yourselves.

Manzanillo

April 6th, 2009

No visitor can leave Tierra de Suenos without experiencing the Manzanillo Wildlife refuge. This is one of our favorite places on the Caribbean coast. With its sweeping views, secluded beaches, and lush jungle paths you feel like a real pioneer stumbling upon something incredible. The three mile bike ride getting to Manzanillo is an adventure in itself, toucans and butterflies lead the way. The town outside the refuge is about as slow moving as a place can be with friendly locals and not many tourists. Maxi’s, the restaurant/center of Manzanillo happenings, is not only a fun local hangout but happens to have the very best Caribbean food on the planet (I suggest the grilled whole red snapper!) Thousands of acres of protected rain forest and glorious Caribbean sand at just a quick ride away. Come see for yourself……

Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge

Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge

Manzanillo - 12km from Puerto Viejo

View from Miss May Point in Manzanillo

Hiking trail- Gandoca Manzanillo

Brendan hiking in Manzanillo

Puerto Viejo day trip

20 minute bike ride from Tierra de Sueños

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