Panama – Costa Rica – Panama – Toronto: Nice way to kick off the New Year! Here are some photos from my adventures with Sahra Featherstone and Melissa Shouldice in Costa Rica!
After a week hosting the JAZZ.FM jazz safari to Panama, Sahra and I beelined from Panama to San Jose, rented a car and drove to Liberia. As my close friends can attest, the fact that Sahra suggested renting a car made me feel doubly fortunate that she was my travel-mate. We’ve known each other for almost nineteen years and really get along…but I’m also fortunate in that she enjoys driving because I’ve never driven an automobile and previously had always taken taxis everywhere. Renting a car meant we could go anywhere and check out many different areas and beaches.
We drove several hours deep into the jungle where I’d rented a house with a private pool. We were joined by a family of howler monkeys and insects of every size and variety.
I saw two sticks mating…bugs that looked like fairly large twigs, conjoined and buzzing about in mid-air.
I saw a giant leaf that seemed unimpressed by the scene and walked away. I later found out it was a moth that disguised itself to look like a leaf.
A butterfly with wings the size of pieces of toast fluttered about while I did some reading in a hammock on the roof. Inside the house, we saw several cute little geko’s and tiny translucent frogs that seemed to turn invisible as they scaled the wall. I had a feeling that the frogs might be poisonous so we caught them and released them outside. (Turns out they are harmless and called glass frogs or conchranella albomaculata.)
We also had one very large spider in each bathroom. I admit this isn’t everyone’s idea of a dream vacation but we weren’t exactly roughing it. The house had all the amenities, the pool was cool and I had nary a bite of any kind. After a couple days, Melissa Shouldice showed up at the Liberia Airport and we picked her up and went shopping for fresh fruit and coconuts, fish, rice and beans and rum. Flying from Toronto to Liberia, Costa Rica for just three days seems a tad eccentric but our one day at The Four Seasons alone was worth the long flight for Melissa I’m sure.
Technically you have to be a guest of the hotel but they seemed only too happy to have guests to fuss over…(I mean, come on, it’s Mel and Sahra; they should live on this beach!) …only 12 people on a private beach and at least double that amount of people were on staff. Guys out of Abercrombie and Fitch mags in stylish work duds would come by and offer iced cappacinos, snacks and even asked if we’d like our glasses cleaned.
We ordered fish tacos and lobster nachos. I am not in the custom of spending twenty five bucks on nachos but they were so tasty and went down great with rum in coconuts! I thought about my many friends that I wished could share the moment – maybe next year!
We explored several beaches over the next few days (my fave in that area was Playa Coco) and when Melissa split Sahra and I drove down to Jaco Beach to see our old friend Lalena, who I call The Queen of Jaco. Of all the places I’ve been to in Costa Rica Jaco is still my favourite beach.
The waves are nice and big and the sunset can’t be beat. After five years in a row, I know many of their best restaurants including a tiny unpretentious place called Café Del Mar. Amazing coffee and food – and right across the street the largest coconuts imagineable.
They call it Pipa Fria and not only does it pack half a litre of coconut water, you can open it up and eat the innards. It’s a lot of work but so tasty! Next year I know I’ll be back to Jaco with friends…it really is Paradise!
I went back to Panama for one last night and then flew home the next day. On our last night in Panama City’s old town we stayed at the most artistic hotel in the city, called Tortalo.
It reminded me of The Gladstone Hotel in Toronto in that it is filled with art, each room is funky and unique and there are a couple bars that attract a young hip crowd.
The rooftop patio was playing modern dance music and down on the main floor a blend of vintage jazz, funk and salsa. We enjoyed a pole dancing performance (this was more artistic and athletic than racy and the mostly older crowd of cool couples seemed to really enjoy it) and all of a sudden Bare Naked Ladies walked in the front door.
I saw BNL’s keyboardist, Kevin Hearn outside the window so I stood at the front door and welcomed them as if it was my house and I was expecting them.
Ed Robertson and Tyler Stewart were completely surprised – and we spent an hour catching up over drinks. Small world!
The flight on Sunwing home was speedy and in no time I was home in minus twenty degrees with nothing but a sear sucker suit and bahama shirt.
I bee-lined to Lambton Golf & Country Club directly from the airport and arrived just in time for a concert by Luis Mario Ochoa and Hilario Duran.