Between Paquera and our place in Pochote, the Curu Wildlife Refuge offered a great spot to see spider monkeys in their natural habitat. Well-groomed and marked trails (with varying degrees of “safe” steps and bridges) led us throughout the refuge so we could watch birds, deer and monkeys in the trees, sometimes very close. Watch out for the crocodiles in the estuary, though. Signs clearly warned us to not wade in the creek!
Tourists could also rent horses and purchase snorkel and scuba trips here, and the cottages for rent looked over a great beach. Remember to bring sun block and mosquito repellant.
We had brought our snorkeling gear on the trip, so were anxious to see some wildlife under the sea, as the bay near our bungalow didn’t offer many tropical fish to look at. We took a guided tour from Curu Wildlife Refuge and our guide took us to a snorkeling spot near Isla Tortuga. The snorkeling was good and it wasn’t too expensive, at only $25 per person. We spent a couple hours on Isla Tortuga eating wonderful fruit our guide had prepared for us. He also taught my son how to split a coconut with a rock – amazing!
We also enjoyed watching the parrots that hang out near the gift shop, and some Ticos play a sport that looked like a cross between volleyball and soccer.
Probably the most unique part of our trip to Costa Rica, were the unconventional daily canine visitors that came to our porch. Our neighbor was an American from Louisiana and he made his mission to be a refuge of sorts for stray dogs who lived on Playa Pochote. He was caring for a total of 10 dogs when we visited, provided veterinary services, spayed/neutered, fed and loved these dogs daily. Larry even brought the whole bunch inside at night when campers were shooting fireworks during the holidays. As neighbors, we got to join in on the loving part, as they hung out with us on our porch every day, and went along with us on our morning beach walks.
One of the dogs, Feo (Spanish for “Ugly”) holds a special place in our hearts. A stray for most of his life, and named by the people in town, Feo was taken in by Larry and provided a safe and loving place to call home. He’s in his twilight years now, and has experienced a life full of hardship. But despite his past maltreatment by humans, Larry said, “He never gave up on us.” Feo has poor eyesight and chronic infection in his mouth, but is the sweetest and happiest dog in the yard. What a gift to have a person like Larry to love animals like Feo.
The dogs also provided some security at night, as a few slept outside our doors and barked when they heard someone walking nearby. Over the course of two weeks, we really got to know these dogs and they made our stay very memorable.
Our home for two weeks was a two-story bungalow directly on the beach. Our bay had formarly been home to whales when they nursed new babies, but the whales had left long ago because of overfishing. Still, the bay provided calm water to play in, safe from the Pacific waves beyond.
The beach sand is mixed with centuries-old volcanic minerals, so it’s more of a gray color, but a nice texture that’s easy to walk on. The shallow entry to the water makes the difference between high tide and low tide many yards of sand, so that at some times during the day you can spot a large group of people playing soccer, on sand that will later be submerged in surf.
We passed by the residents in the tiny town of Pochote each time we went to or from our bungalow. Only about four homes sit on the beach, and the rest of the town rests behind the mangroves.
The hammocks on our porch provided just the rest spot to spend the majority of our time during our two week getaway.
Our family recently had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica and stay on the Southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, about 3 1/2 hours by car South of Liberia. The tiny village that hosted us, Pochote, is just eight kilometers from Tambor, which has an airport, but not much more. The area is not touristy at all, although there are a few resorts nearby, and the lively towns down the coast in Mal Pais are over-run with eager American surfers. Instead, it is a area that encourages a visitor to immerse into the Tico culture and practice their Spanish.
The Nicoya Peninsula is on the drier side of the country, although the rainy season still washes out roads and makes potholes sometimes impassible.
I look forward to sharing our experiences with you in the next few weeks.