Playa Samara & San Jose, Costa Rica

Since Cynthia had limited time, we decided that Costa Rica would wind up her portion of the trip with some relaxing beach time. Hearing some bad pollution stories of one of the most popular destination, Playa Tamarindo, we decided to make our way to Playa Samara. The trip from Nicaragua was a marvelous hodge-podge of local and international buses. Here we go: 1) chicken bus from San Juan Del Sur to border road; 2)chicken bus to border; 3) made our way through the confusing mass of the Nicaraguan border and found an $8 pp TICA international bus that would take us through the Costa Rican border station and drop us in Liberia, Costa Rica; 4) Local bus to Nicoya (Costa Rican buses are a bit better than chicken buses, but not by much); 5) A chicken bus (yes we found one) to Playa Samara. The whole ordeal took us almost 13 hours and got us about 100 miles. This is extremely typical of Central American travel, especially if you have to cross borders.

Arriving in Playa Samara, the level of dirt and let’s say “funk” on us, was higher than we had ever experienced yet in our travels. To make matters worse, as we circumvented the town in our full packs, there was not a room to be found in the small town. After many failed attempts we found a room in the German owned Hotel Belvedere. Shocked at first at the $70/night price, the immaculate room with AC, TV, private hot water bath and a swimming pool just outside our balcony, sold us. Cynthia remarked – after she showered and Warren had a plunge in the pool BEFORE showering – she could see a ring around the pool. We’re not sure she was right, but all the little critters had left and the crew was out the next day cleaning and adding more chemicals to the pool.

Playa Samara was a beautiful crescent beach surrounded by hills. We spent our days there swimming, watching the vacationing Costa Ricans and gringos, boogie boarding and walking. We were even lucky enough to find a bit of a snorkeling spot to see some of the local fish and giggled at the numerous red crabs scuttling to safety. As it turned out, we were only able to stay in our room for two nights, but we found a very clean and nice place, Hotel Matilori, which was only $50/night. It also had AC, TV (Warren was able to watch his NY Giants make the Superbowl), and a shared hot-water bath. The really nice thing was that it had a beautiful kitchen where we were able to cook lunch and dinner for our last two nights at the beach.

We found a direct bus to San Jose, but it really turned out to be kind of a local bus and it took about 5 dusty hours to get to the city. We scoured the city for accommodations, but a lot of them were…well…let’s just say, “scummy”. We walked with our full packs for about two and a half hours before finally deciding on Hotel Gran Imperial. For $20 a night we got a private room with hot shower bath just on the edge of the questionable part of town. We toured the city as we found out about an airport bus and Warren booked his bus trip back north to Managua, Nicaragua. San Jose is probably the most “western” Central American city we have found with squares, fountains, and a long pedestrian area in the center.

So here is where Cynthia returns home from our wacky Central American adventure and Warren will continue for almost 3 more weeks to explore the Northern coast of the Honduras and the Bay Islands. Stay tuned for more of Warren’s Wacky World Adventures before we give you a break from our incessant ramblings.

For more pictures, check out the Samara and San Jose picture gallery.

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