Quite a Welcome: Puerto Viejo

After my whirlwind trip to the States, I rested for a whopping one and a half days in Coco and again raced off – to the east coast of Costa Rica. I was going to meet up with a friend of mine I hadn’t seen for at least eight years – and hadn’t traveled with in 10.

From Coco’s nearest airport, Liberia, I hopped on the little commuter flight to San Jose (the first time I’d actually had to jump on the scale with my luggage before boarding). A few hours later, after an embarrassingly squeal-filled reunion with Maren on a busy street corner, we literally ran to the bus stop and barely made the last one out to Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean coast. That evening, we checked into our cabina, El Nido. The cabin was approximately five times the size of my little house in Coco, and the grounds were peaceful and lush.

Maren’s two friends from Chicago were geared up to be super-tourists, wanting to go on every hike and canopy tour they could book. It worked out perfectly. All I needed was rest, so hours in the hammock reading alone and long solo walks on deserted beaches was just what the doctor (and my cash-strapped, post-Vegas wallet) ordered.

The first night, we headed to the Lotus Garden, which looked delectable in some guidebook one of us had. What ensued was comical at best, but let me tell you: I’ve never laughed so hard, and I was practically best friends with Samarah and Sharone by the end of it. “Dah-veeeed” (no exaggeration on how long he stretched out his name) was our waiter at the posh (for Costa Rica) restaurant, which was currently being manned by someone a little incapacitated. And when I say he was wasted, I don’t mean he’d smoked a little pot before work. After the longest 30 minutes of our lives, during which he twice forgot our order (a rather simple two fish specials and one all-you-can-eat sushi), the fun really got started.

While sweating profusely (he didn’t sweat onto our food, he didn’t sweat onto our food), he wavered back and forth between tales of being the restaurant’s owner who demanded respect – and a poor employee who was sacrificing his Saturday night fun to wait on us. All the while, he kept stripping off his clothing while demanding us to look, “This is ME, look at ME,” before hurriedly re-dressing himself.

For someone who was so excited to get his party started after a loong two-hour meal, he took no less than 30 minutes to get us the check, our nerves growing increasingly frazzled. It was a dark and stormy night – and we were the only ones in the restaurant. When we finally went running out, we happened to look upstairs while (far, far) across the street waiting for the cab. He was again shirtless, and holding out his pants, with his camera pointed downwards. Whatever. The next morning, I took a long walk on the beach alone, the only person in more than an hour’s worth of walking. Not sure which experience was “more” Costa Rican, but I was just thrilled to find that the universe will really help you slow down, if you let it.

Next up: women vs nature in Puerto Viejo

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I'm a life-long travel junkie journalist who works hard to find adventure in everyday life after two years of travel and expat living.

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  1. Wow!!!!! Girl, you hit the nail on the head!! I absolutely love it!!! But did you mention the secret sauce on the dish??

  2. Uh-oh. If I blocked it out, uh, forgot… it must be bad!

  3. When I visited Costa Rica in 2005, it was my first time in Latin America, and I remember having to adjust to the slower pace of life, as in waiters who go AWOL, and leave you sitting there for 30 minutes at a time.

    But once you get the hang of it…..hard to go back to the hurried pace in the US. And the beaches in Costa Rica – glad to see you can still find nice, long empty ones to enjoy.

  4. OMG!!! Maren, I was totally gonna mention the special sauce too!!!

  5. I need a reminder!!! What IS the special sauce??!

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