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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Coco Loco

Updated: Jun 18, 2023

I made it out of Blue Dream... in fact, I was packed and ready to go at a very obscene hour. Bye, Bye, Blue Dream! That's the one good thing about crap accommodation. The early mornings! Up & outta here...

I had BIG plans to make it to Playa Blanca, in the Parque National Santa Rosa... but I failed my mission. Failed miserably. Though, I might add, through no fault of my own... kinda.

I couldn't make it past this river...

In my defense, there was no one in front of me and no one behind, meaning there was no one to test the waters. I had no stick to measure the depth... and, I mean this in the most LITERAL sense, come hell OR high water... I was NOT going to sacrifice myself as the walking, talking human yard stick.

No, thank you, sir.

I did linger on the murky banks for quite some time, weighing my options. Other points I took into serious consideration;

  1. I was in a rental.

  2. I could hardly brag about having much 4WD experience.

  3. What if there was mud at the bottom to sink into?

  4. Crocodiles...

  5. Snakes...

  6. No WIFI.

  7. Zero cell coverage.

I did mention there was no one else around, Right?

There was only one option, as far as I could see.

Turn around.

And turn around, I did.

Sayonara, Playa Blanca! Guess we will have to meet another time... !! These birds were staying on land today.

I made my way into Coco... where I had a reservation at a small hotel called 'Laura's House' for the next 4 days. I'm not sure why I committed myself to four full days in Coco... as I had already, somewhat, learnt my lesson in the subject of overstaying. Accommodation is a real crap shoot. I prefer to extend my stay, rather than be riddled with regret.

Something about Laura's House and Coco, and the surrounding area, seemed to appeal to me though, so I made the executive decision. I made the plunge… and off I went to Coco.

For the rest of this blog, I am going to use more of a bullet point system, rather than droll on and on, "... and then I did this... and then I went here..." because, as I already mentioned, I was here for 4 days.

Bare with me...

So... firstly... and probably most importantly... and definitely the BEST part of Coco- I got to meet up with my new bestie, Liam, again!

We hit the sights of the Coco strip, looking for somewhere where 1. the food was delicious and 2. it had a vibrant atmosphere and 3. it was Happy Hour! Happy Hour is not hard to come by in Coco. Every pub, restaurant, seaside saloon and roadside dive seem to advertise Happy Hour as a daily collection of hours.

Happy Hour 11-7.

Happy Hour 3-19.

Happy Hour 12-5.

That's Happy, alright... and exactly the type of Happy I enjoy!

We found a fun place called CocoNutz and nachos and sangrias, it was!

My idea of a fabulous start to a town! I just knew I was gonna lIke Coco.


Playa Calzón de Pobre: The Beautiful Poor Man's Beach

I had all the best intentions of just lazing about by the pool and the beach... People make vacations seem so chill. Sometimes I want a piece of that. Relaxing doesn't always come easy to me. I even thought I would have an in-town day and maybe do a little shopping.

Odd... but I really hadn't done much shopping yet.

Do you barter in Costa Rica?

I had no idea.

Was I even in the mood to barter?

Probably not.

After about 3 minutes of convincing myself I was going to have this miraculous lazy beach day, I was in the car and ready to head off into the unknown and explore. Phone in hand... local map app fully loaded and what to see in Coco, open on my Google... off I went.

I drove a little ways North, up to a point with two beaches and a stunning viewpoint of Playa Hermosa. Just a little ways down from the vista, was a parking lot... and what appeared to be two separate paths leading to different beaches. Almost as soon as I parked, this man in a neon traffic vest approached me, and as if by instinct, I started to reach into my purse and pull out my wallet, in order to hand over my life savings for parking on the side of a dirt road.

But lo and behold, I was pleasantly surprised... he didn't want money! He was interested in finding out which beach I was planning to visit, and then directing me accordingly. He even told me he would watch my car... AND told me to be careful! Wow... dumbfounded. He was lovely.

Shit... should I have given him money?

Would my car be ok?

These thoughts plagued me the entire time.

It was definitely a 4Wd trek, with all the usual characteristics of a regular Costa Rican road. It confused me as to why we weren’t allowed to tempt fate and take the car!

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with the ocean.

I love it. I love everything about it. I love looking at it, love sailing on it, love walking beside it, love dipping my barefoot into it… but something about actually going IN TO it doesn't sit well with me.

This is shark territory. And from what I've most recently discovered, crocodile territory too. And the odd snake.

I’m not a fan of the unknown beneath me.

Don't get me wrong.. I've done my share of body surfing, wave jumping, snorkeling and jumping in the deep blue... but it is always will more than a few ounces of trepidation... and always with buffers. My buffers are the ones I ensure are completely surrounding me. First bait.

There is another major insecurity of mine that plays front row and centre to being at the beach, and that is my higgilty piggilty body bits.

**Next time I go on vacation, I am definitely getting in shape first. Take note.

The crowds were scarce, I didn't know a soul... and when I looked around, there were many women flaunting what they had... and in some cases, what they had was much bigger than what I had... so fuck it.

I found a little spot, dumped all my belongings, tore off my clothes and plummeted into the sea.

Kinda... it was less of a plummet, and more like a series of waist-deep dips... and always on the lookout for that fin.

When I arrived back at my car, everything seemed to be in place, so I bought a coconut off the lovely man to thank him for being so attentive.

OMG... It was delicious. Why had I not previously concentrated more of my traveling effort on fresh coconuts. Moving forward, I intend to.

Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa was confusing. My handy map app led me to a major beach hotel to begin with, before I smartened up and realized I was in the wrong location. It was puzzling, as suddenly the road I had been driving down, came to a sudden dead end.

I was ready to turn around and try another route, when suddenly, there appeared a little man, ready to direct me into, what looked like, a hotel parking lot. Paid parking, of course. I kept insisting I wasn't staying at the hotel and he was adamant it was also for visitors. I told him I wasn't a hotel visitor, and he told me I was allowed to go to their restaurant and use their beach.

He lost me at use their beach, as he had convinced me up until that point, and believe me, it was a lengthy conversation of disbelief, bewilderment and disorientation.

This is another perfect example of how map apps can deceive.

After my hotel parking fiasco, I managed to find the main strip, parked on the side of the road, for free... and off I went to wander around.

When I say, wander around, I mean that I found a little seaside bar, sat down, had a cerveza and took in the beach scene.

Some random guy approached me and asked if the ice was safe to have in drinks. Told him I hadn't died yet... which, reflecting back, perhaps wasn't the best answer.

Penninsula Papagayo / Marina Papagayo

On my very first day in San Jose, I met this older gentleman. He was leaving the hotel as I was coming in. Fresh off the flight, I was desperate for knowledge, friendship, advice and kindness. He gave me all of the above and as he was leaving, told me to look him up if I ever made my way to Papagayo. His boat was docked there. His name was Lauren and his boat, Second Wind.

Boat? Damn straight I'll make my way there.

So fast forward to recently... and I did find myself in that part of the world. I made my way to the Marina, only to discover locked gates at each dock entrance.

Private Property.

I was not prepared to start yelling out, "Lauren! Lauren!" as I was positive this nice man had probably forgotten about the doughy, daft Canadian as soon as he got into his vehicle and drove away.

Oh well. Points for trying.

Pretty posh area - predominantly known for its 5-star resorts, all-inclusives, golf courses and chartered yachts.

Lauren probably didn't want me showing up in my stinky clothes.

Speaking of clothes... I was desperate for a laundromat… and I'm positive everyone that came within 10 meters of me, felt the same. It was getting to the point of wash or chuck. There are only so many days a girl can wander around in her sink-washed knickers, and feel confident.

Playa Iguanita

Little iguana beach? Let's go!

After the devestating blow of not sailing off into the sunset for the evening on Lauren's yacht, I resigned myself to visiting a beach on my way back to Coco. There were a few I decided on, prior to Iguanita... but again, thanks to my handy map app, roads that should have led me there were utterly non-existent.

The adventurous and very remote route to Iguanita was what finally gave me the confidence to cross the rivers. I couldn't continue to turn around every time I came across a body of water... could I?

Silly talk. Of course not.

Gulp... I had to stop, put it into 4WD... cross my fingers and my toes... and book it...

And... I made it. Trembling... but safely across.

I read this online when I looked up Playa Iguanita; The dirt road is in very bad condition. It is advisable to visit the place in a 4x4 car, since some sectors of the journey are very deteriorated.

See? I don't make this stuff up!

Iguanita was gorgeous... in fact, I've read that it's one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica... and so incredibly peaceful and quiet. There were a few campers enjoying the banks of this pristine location, but not many. I walked the entire length of the beach... and although I considered it, I didn't go in the water.

Not enough buffers.

Playa Portrero

The road to Playa Portrero was also riddled with river crossings. I wouldn't necessarily say my confidence was beginning to skyrocket, but my tolerance was.

Playa Portrero was a very tiny community, right on the beach... and as luck should have it, while I was there, my phone was hanging tight to a 2% charge. This frightened me a lot... as I can admit I have become very reliant on the directions my phone provides... and I wasn't entirely sure I could find my way out of this remote location without it.

The first thing I had to do was find a location with an electrical outlet and charge up. There just so happened to be a pub right in front of me. Right on the beach. Now, anyone that has ever lived in Lake Louise, will understand when I say this place was the Costan Rican, seaside Grill & Bar. Everything about it - from it's decor to it's service. Just a neighborhood local serving pub grub.

My waitress was a little rude, and when I made the inquiry about plugging in, she told me her boss wouldn't let me. I was at a loss for words. Why??? I needed to charge my phone... I was hardly going to be downloading porn. She just walked away from me. So I did what any desperate dead-phone person would do, I went straight to her boss. He plugged my phone in, told me to keep an eye on it... and everyone was happy. Well, the staff remained quite miserable looking, but I was happy.

As I said before, The Grill, to a tee.

I ate a veggie stir fry in the pub and after my phone was charged enough to lead me home, I took a quick stroll on the beach.

Playa Flamingo

What can I say? There were no flamingos. Horrendously disappointed.

Admittedly, I did not do much in Playa Flamingo, except for vacate the vehicle temporarily for a few quick selfies.

Catarata Ilanos del Cortes y Posa Econdida

This journey started with me, lounging in the hotel pool. I was practicing my sexy mermaid meets dog paddle moves... back and fourth, back and forth...

Suddenly there was an American couple at the gate and they were unable to get in. Being the kind, obliging person I am, I got out of the pool and opened up the gate for them.

Paul and Gerri Russell... from somewhere in the vicinity of Yosemite, California.

They were here on a vacation and meeting up with their son and his girlfriend the following evening. I had plans to visit the Ilanos del Cortes waterfalls in the morning, so invited them to join me and they accepted.

I had filled them full of horror stories about the road conditions in Costa Rica, only to discover that every road we took to the waterfalls was a pavers dream. A pure cruising delight.

Maybe it's just me?

Do I attract potholes, speed bumps, eroded asphalt, gravel, boulders, mud and rivers?

I was dead set on finding them a pothole.

The waterfalls were magnificent. Heart-stopping, actually.

Covid is a good time to travel, as nothing is overly crowded and on many occasions, you find yourself alone where normally hoards of tourists swarm. Covid and the rainy season... highly recommended.

A man named Miguel took a liking to us and became our own persona tour guide for the area, and led us up to the top of the falls, and then down to some private pools, where he and Paul cliff-dove into the water. As tempting as it was to plummet from great heights into a bucket of water, the thought of it bordered just a wee bit too much on the side of extreme sports for me. I preferred to remain close to the edge, waddle in the lukewarm bath, and let the little fish nimble on my feet's dead skin.

It truly was paradise.

From here, we got a bit lost looking for someplace Miguel recommended...but none of us were really clear on what or where it was. He just threw out a random word, and we spent the rest of the afternoon on a bit of a wild goose chase. We journeyed up and down many a dirt road... and I was pleased as punch to finally have the opportunity to introduce Gerri and Paul to Costa Rican potholes and shoddy road conditions!

Our efforts were not lost! For instead of finding the place Miguel had supposedly sent us, a mere 20 minutes up the road to spectacular... instead, we found volcanic hot springs!

I finally got my mud bath!

In fact, I lapped up my mud bath. It was almost an obligation. The place charged us $23US to go in, so muddy we did get. Damn straight. We got so muddy, lying down in that swamp, it took more than 2 showers and 3 hot tub soaks to get us clean. I think Paul was still finding twigs the following morning.

As dirty as I got, I am still exceedingly unclear as to what the healing effects of mud are?

No idea.

Maybe it's a youthful rejuvenation.

Perhaps it was the sulphur, which managed to turn my silver rings a lovely shade of coal.

Nothing screams excessive bloatation (new word) and weight gain like a long flight, tight clothes, small people, carbs and selfies. In some ways, I want to take more selfies, but... my face… God, no. Everyone loves a good selfie... except the person actually smack dab in the middle of trying to take the perfect picture, with their own distorted, fat face.

I have tried numerous times to take the perfect selfie, but I'm treding a 1% guaranteed lookin'-good rate at the moment.

Better with mud????

I agree.

Mud for the win.

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