Bike Ride to Boat Ride
Sunday, July 18th, 2010
Do you like to ride bike? I set out to document a day tour, you can do yourself. You can take this bike tour from Puerto Viejo to Manzanillo, but you may need my help to arrange such a happy ending!
I started out on my bike, around noon, in Puerto Viejo:
The road out of town goes right, at Tex Mex. But you can’t go by Cafe Ivon, without stopping for a freshly made juice. It’s my daughter and her boyfriend’s place. (I painted these signs for them.)
Leaving Puerto Viejo, you pass the renowned Rocking J’s. (My son painted their sign two years ago.) I stopped at La Isla Inn (#2 on map) to look for my friend, Jose. He has promised to take me on a hike up to the mirador (lookout) at his farm in Cahuita. He says up there, you can see for miles in every direction.
Jose was not there, so I went on…… past the Life Guard Station at Beach Break (# 1 on map) – the surfer’s beach…….
past Jungle Spa….. the bridge at Rio Cocles and past the very nice grocery store, Pirripli.
Cocles is a sweet, quiet little town with an elementary school and it’s own futbol (soccer) field. There are also a few nice restaurants and hotels for those who prefer a less lively place than Puerto Viejo. One of these is a five star hotel. Le Cameleon (#7 on map) is jungle exotic, yet well illustrates the Latin’s taste for contemporary design.
They have a lovely beachfront area with restaurant service and cabanas.
Now we head toward Playa Chiquita, another quiet, little town, with it’s own beach and it’s own unique personality. At the Gaia Center (#12 on map), you can take yoga classes, learn about local medicinal plants and get a good massage. I painted their sign a few years ago. One thing I really enjoyed about this ride is that the roads have been recently paved. It was a pleasure to bike on them.
I stopped to say hello to my friend, don Julio, at his jungle restaurant (#12 on map). He’s the sixty six year old; former, semi pro baseball player and lounge singer; I talk about in my book, “If She Can Do It, So Can I !” He still sings, he cooks and he dances, too. In fact we had a few salsa dances in the street before I went on my way. It is a really pretty ride, with jungle surrounding you.
Now we are headed to Punta Uva or Grape Point. Uva means grape. And they have grapes here, but not the kind we are familiar with. They grow on trees and they’re lots bigger.
Punta Uva (#15 on map) has one of the most popular beaches for swimming in this whole area. It is not on the main road, you have to make a left on a dirt road, but it’s not far. The bar and restaurant Arrecife (#4 on map), often has live music and is lots of fun. It’s right on the beach.
Continuing on toward our destination of Manzanillo, we pass El Refugio. This intimate, little restaurant is on the main road but off the beaten path, in the Playa Grande area. It is owned and operated by a lovely Argentine couple. She’s the waitress, he’s the chef and the food is just excellent. Don’t miss this place if you like steak. The Argentines really know how to prepare it.
Anywhere along here you often see and hear Howler monkeys in the trees above. This ride was no exception. I got a few photos and took a video, too, so you could hear what they sound like.
Listen to the Howler Monkeys (above)
We’re almost to the end of the road, in Manzanillo – just a few more miles…… There are some ups and downs, but it’s good exercise and the beauty of the ride distracts you from the work.
And here we are in Manzanillo (#20 on map). I love this old fashioned village. The road ends here so there aren’t quite as many tourists. Whereas Puerto Viejo is quite cosmopolitan, with people from all over the world, Manzanillo has kept the flavor of the old time Caribbean, when it was first settled by the Jamaicans. You’ll often see old men in the park, competing in a serious game of dominoes. Fishing boats line the shore. And the magnificent beauty of the Gandoca Reserve is all around you.
You can’t go to Manzanillo without stopping in at Maxi’s (#5 on the map). So I did. And guess who I ran into? Just the guy I’d been looking for earlier in the day, Jose, from La Isla Inn. He invited me to go fishing with our mutual friends, Scott and Maria. Now, I have been advised, by famous female nomad, Rita Golden Gelman (author of Tales of a Female Nomad) never to decline an invitation. This one was easy. A glorious sunset cruise, of course I’d go!
Scott is from the States. He could hardly speak a word of Spanish when he met Maria, four years ago. She’s from Spain. She still speaks very little English but Scott has learned Spanish out of necessity. And Jose is a Tico, fluent in both languages. Born and raised in Costa Rica, Jose left home at thirteen and came to Puerto Viejo to surf. He was one of the originals. And he did well for himself, as you’ll see, when you check out La Isla Inn. He built it all, over the past fifteen years.
Although we caught no fish that day, Scott often gets tuna and other good eating fish. Dolfins are frequently sighted in this area. Now it is sea turtle mating season. The turtles mate in the ocean, and can be seen as the extra air caused by their mating frenzy, brings them to the top. We saw some, but by the time we reached them they blew out their air and dove down. Soon they’ll be laying their eggs in the sands of the Gandoca Reserve.
What a wonderful day this was! I had no idea what would transpire or how it would turn out. I just got on my bike and took off. The water was warm for a sunset swim and a tasty fish dinner at Maxi’s topped off the evening. For countless times, on this day, I wholeheartedly felt such absolute appreciation. I love living here!
Note: I receive no commissions or compensation from any of the businesses I make reference to. I have chosen to show these places because I like them and I feel they demonstrate the character of the south Caribbean.