Thursday, January 15, 4:30pm – Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
I got off the bus in Puerto Viejo. It was around 7 or 8 pm. I really did not like the town when I first arrived. Its a very reggae island vibe. There are hippies and locals selling coral and shell jewelry and lots of people asking if you want weed or coke. I was tired from almost 12 hours and busses. I needed to decide if I wanted to get a bus in the morning to Panama or stay another day. I walked around and found a nice restruant in the middle of town. I like to stop off at a nice restruant when I first get in town. Its a good place to meet locals business owners and expats. They are a great source of advice and genneraly unbiased.
I started a conversation with a couple sitting mext to me. They suggested a hotel to say in and I checked it out and really like it. Its called a “Hotel” but really is a hostel. Its a super hostel with 60 rooms. The Hotel Puerto Viejo. Im in room number 65. The fee is $15. Its a small room with a double bed. Its clean and there is a pad lock on the outside of the door. I got my key and unpacked. I was tired and sent to bed. I was alseep by 9pm. The town is partying and the window is just a screen and bars for security. I woke up at 5am. It was too dark to walk around and I jumped on line and posted and did some emails. At dawn I decided to walk around and take some photos. I found a bakery and got a great pastry with ham and cheeze. After breakfest I came back to the hotel and talked with people there. I decided to stick around and take a day and see this carribien villge. Later that afternoon I checked out the beach and explored the town some more. Then I took a nap.
Pureto Vieja is a carribien town very influnced by the island vibe. The population is more afro than eruopean. Tamarindo was more a place for Americans to live and set up business for the surfer. Puerto Veijo is more europeans backpacking. Its a backwater town, older and less developed. The population is largely decedents of the slave trade. I have never been to the islands but I imagen that is very similer. Everyone rides a bicycle here. There are vacant lots on the main strip of town. The beach is not developed. Tamarindo has a dozen surf shops with all the international brands, Billibong, Reef, Hurley, etc; sushi restaurants on the dusty stright, high end lounges on top of 4 story building lots of new development. The the shops in Puerto Veijo are full local hand made jewelry, tie-die clothings and bob marley t-shirts. Everything is old here. The population is alot more poor. The prices of everything is two-thirds to half what Tamarindo is. The international airport is 4 hours away, where in Tamarindo the international airport is 45 minutes. The beaches in Puerto Veijo are small and not very nice. Tamarindo is wide white sand. But I am glad I came here. It is so different. The two coast for very different as many people have said. A good comparison between the vibe of Puerto Veijo and Tamarindo is the difference between vibe of San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Some random thoughts: Dogs run around everywhere. They just plop down and sleep anywhere. They walk in to the bars and cafes. Another odd thing is that the everywhere in Costa Rica they ask you to place your used toilet paper in to a trash can and not flush it down. The local plumbing system can not support the paper and it clougs up the place.
I head to Panama tomorrow. I booked a shuttle for $35 To take me to Bocas Del Toro which is on the other side of the Panamanian border. Its an air conditioned mini bus. I prefer local buses but shuttle help you across the border which should be easy, but any time you are dealing with the authorities it good to be safe.
Its 6pm now and the town is waking up and the party is about to begin.