Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cumpleanos, Costa Rican Style

Since today was my mother's birthday, we let her choose the itinerary for the day.  Our morning was spent lounging by the pool, as per usual until it was adventure time.

Obviously the first stop was Java Cafe for smoothies

After that I opted to vacate my role as chauffeur and once I finished my smoothie, dozed in the backseat as we drove to Llena de Cortez, or tried to anyway.  The problem being that the driving directions we found online go a little something like this:

"The turnoff is not well marked coming from Liberia (Look for a little store on your right at the turnoff).  The turnoff is about 3km (1 3/4 miles) north of the crossroads for Bagaces. From the turnoff, you must drive a rough dirt road.  About half a kilometer along the dirt road you'll see on your right a large rock with Cataratas scrawled on it. Follow this bumpy road about 1.3 km (.8 mi) to its end at a parking area above the waterfall.  Clamber down a steep path of about 50 yards to the pool at the bottom of this spectacular 50-foot waterfall. Admission is negotiable, $5/vehicle should get you past the caretaker."

So while looking for this alleged "little store on your right," we drove about 20 minutes down an incorrect dirt road, and then 20 minutes back down the same incorrect dirt road.  When I asked someone on the return trip down this dirt road where the waterfall was he said "oh just down the highway there"- super helpful.  We finally found a helpful girl at a fruit stand and in retrospect I feel guilty that I was too hot, nauseous and annoyed to buy a mango or something from her as a gesture of thanks.

Finally on the right path, literally, we made it to the waterfall with only two people scamming us for donations on the way.  From there it was a 50 meter jaunt down some interesting terrain, during which my mother deeply regretted her birthday choice but managed to push through.

We were rewarded at the bottom with a beautiful 40 foot waterfall and surrounding pool, with two additional smaller waterfalls behind us.  There was a couple with a toddler there when we arrived but they left soon after and we had the whole place to ourselves for most of the afternoon.  We did some swimming, sunning and enjoyed a fancy birthday picnic of PB&J, pineapple and watermelon.

Deciding we should hike back up before it got dark, we headed for home and got cleaned up for dinner.  Father Rooster was event free, though not mosquito free and I took another bath in the management provided OFF, the official perfume of Costa Rica.  Despite the touristy/kitschy feel to the restaurant (nothing says class like a placemat with a cartoon rooster in a Hawaiian shirt) the food was excellent and there were a lot of locals there.

We had gigantic cocktails, beef tenderloin with chimmichuri, grilled mahi-mahi and shrimp all with sides of rice, black beans and fried plantains- our first legitimate Spanish cuisine of the trip!

At the end of the meal they brought out a plate of brownies and little coconut custard cookies (that were delicious!) with a candle for mom's birthday.

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