When you visit any tourist area for more than a couple of weeks, you start to feel the pulse of the place. You start to feel the vibrations.
In our latest visit to Playas del Coco(or “Coco”) in February, 2012 it was our third time visiting this beachfront tourist town on the Pacific coast, about 30 minutes from the newly transformed Daniel Oduber international Airport in Liberia.
Returning to a place gives you the benefit of experience. Questions come to mind. What changes have taken place? What remains the same?
The boulevard would now need extensions on both sides to connect with the natural walkway, so that people can walk or cycle the length of the beach. Bars and restaurants are adjacent to the new boulevard.
The main road leading into town ends at the beach. This road is a product of its past. It is a very narrow road to start off, and the shops and vendors have spilled out of their buildings on the few sidewalks that exist, and on the shoulder of the road where cars are also parked.
Walking from point A to be point B in downtown Coco is a bit like walking through a maze. You find yourself walking on the shoulder, between parked cars, on the sidewalk for a few steps, or through the frontage of some outdoor restaurant terrace, careful to avoid brushing against sitting customers.
There is no planning to the street. You just improvise as you go along, take it as it happens. However, older people, especially those with disabilities would find it very difficult to manoever.
Our 2- bedroom condo, Coteritas is located in the Playa de la Palma subdivision- a pink two story building with 10 condos on two floors Ours is a last minute special, bare bones, hot and uncomfortable. Basically, you get what you pay for.
We had to go through an “attitude adjustment” quickly in order to remain sane. That meant ignoring the following issues for the entire time we were there since they were never rectified: broken stove, no hot water, dripping taps and toilet, a ceiling light bulb to illuminate our living/kitchen area, no side lamps and tables or coffee table, filthy dishes, and a kitchen counter space that was hardly big enough to slice a tomato.
Oh, and one more thing. We were told we would have Internet, and there was a modem, but it never worked long enough to send an e-mail. Thank God for one of the tenants was kind enough to allow his ‘unsecured’ wireless signal to be used by others. As long as we kept our patio door open, we could poach the signal and get on-line!
By the third or fourth day, we started joking about the place. We had to. It reminded us of our camping days in the 70’s.
The layout of Coteritas was puzzling. An adequate pool served the units, but there was no allowance for shade, and no chairs or seats of any kind. The tenants basically stayed in the pool for extended periods, chatting and cooling off in the 30˚C heat. The whole courtyard design was in question, since some tenants were forced to walk along the edge of the pool to access their units. There was no ebb and flow to the place.
However, there is always a silver lining in any situation, and the occupants of the condos, both long and short term were friendly and engaging people. We had many interesting chats with our Canadian(and one American) friends which often extended to a few happy hours at nearby bars.
If you’ve read the article this far, and if you’re not looking for a Camping 101 experience, be careful when you book a condo in Costa Rica.
Keep these points in mind:
- Pictures of properties on the Internet do not tell the whole story(and can often be misleading)
- Condos make look the same from the outside, but the inside can be a totally different picture
- “Show Me”, that Missouri expression is the best advice, or the positive testimonial of someone who has been there, done that
- Scout out a place when you are travelling, and spend a morning with a rental agent to see some properties if you intend to return
- Book your unit 3-6 months ahead of your vacation if possible(which we will try to do next time!)
- Upon arrival ask for a written contract as well as receipts for all money handed over. Make sure the rental agent is clear about the return of your security deposit, electricity charges and how you will be refunded. These details vary from one company to another.
Travelling is a part of life and with it comes its own set of challenges- ones that can take us out of our comfort zone.
However, they are all valid experiences and lessons of life in which we learn more about ourselves. In and of themselves they become part of our journey.
I hope your travel experience is a memorable one.