Exploration.. Malpais and Santa Teresa

So I have been here in Nosara since October 5 of 2017 and the only time I have left has been day trips to Samara or San Juanillo and my border runs to Nicaragua every 90 days, for an hour.  2018 was a rough year with my hand and skull accidents, floods, rainstorms, etc.  2019 has brought not one but 2 fires.  The 2nd, mixed with the crazy strong winds,  had the entire mountain in flames.  It was an extremely, and sometimes very scary, 5 days and sleepless nights.   Were it not for the wonderful volunteer Bombero’s (firemen and women) and countless community members, my house and business would have gone up in flames and I would have lost everything. 

I was forced to close the restaurant and block off the cabinas from the rental sights due to the property being surrounded by burning embers and so much smoke.  March and April are usually very busy months for me and to have it so quiet here was surreal. 

So while having dinner with friends at a neighbor’s house one night, they mentioned they were going to Malpais and Santa Teresa the following weekend for 3 days.  I have wanted to explore more areas since I arrived almost 2.5 years ago.  Malpais and Santa Teresa were one of the areas I wanted to explore.  I heard it was smaller and not as congested with tourists as Nosara is.  Also, Tom Brady, the quarterback for the New England Patriots, has a home there and is often spotted chilling out in town. 

I immediately invite myself, of course asking if it is a romantic getaway first.   The plan is to leave early Friday morning and head back after breakfast on Sunday, stopping along the way at any beach or town we haven’t been to yet. 

We leave at 10:45am, setting the GPS for Cobano, the closest large town to Malpais.  We head towards Nicoya, dropping a friend off at his mechanic to pick up his truck.  Head on down Route 160, following the GPS.  If you’ve ever driven the roads here in Costa Rica, you know there are no road signs and usually no signs telling you what town you are in.  Our GPS tells us to take a right.  As we head up the mountain, dirt roads, tiny clusters of Tico houses, we start to think maybe we are going the “fast” way over the mountains. Problem is, the “fast” way over the mountain is only fast if the roads are paved.  After traveling for some time, we decide to turn around and head back. 

We stop at a cute little town called Nayundar (sp)? for a bite to eat.  Very clean and quiet town at the bottom of the mountain.  Quick lunch and on our way. 

We drive on nice, new pavement for quite a while.  Several farms and fields with cows and horses grazing.  Small villages, all with soccer fields, churches, schools, soda’s and restaurants.  After some time the road turns to dirt and the trek up the mountain towards Malpais begins.  We are used to road construction in Nosara, as it’s been ongoing for a few years.  This however, is a major construction project.  Widening the road, making new on and off ramps, drainage ditches etc.  Road winding up, down, around for miles and miles.  Beautiful scenery of the bay down below and more farms, beaches and beautiful trees.  We stop for gas in Paquera, another bustling little town, almost as big as Nicoya.  The ferry stops here so there are quite a few tourists coming through here.  Continuing on, we see many farms, houses, lots with some type of fruit trees with all the fruit covered in individual white bags.  Still not sure what was under those white bags, but it’s on my “list” of things to google. 

We pass the Barcelo’ Tambor Hotel and Casino, right on the ocean, agreeing we need to check that place out next time.  Looks beautiful, large and right next to an airstrip.  The ride through the mountain was long and bumpy, but getting through and passing all of the quaint towns and farms made it worth it.

We pull in to Malpais around 5pm.  The center is quite busy, with shops, restaurants and people.  Our hotel, the Indigo Yoga Resort, was only 2km from the center of town and only a block from the ocean.   My friends had stayed here 6 years ago when it was just starting out and wanted to see the changes.  The landscaping and greenery had only been just planted when they were here last and now it was like staying in the middle of the jungle.  Rooms, pool, restaurant and Yoga Rancho were all surrounded by lush, beautiful mango and other trees and flowering bushes.  Pathways leading from the back patios of the rooms to the common areas were lined with beautiful plants.  When we pulled in, the monkeys were directly above our heads, howling away. 

We were greeted by a friendly security guard and checked in by an equally nice young lady.  The rooms were very nice, walking in to a small, separate kitchen. Going through the room has 1 Queen Bed and 2 twin beds. All walls, floors and countertops are a dark grey concrete, the norm here in CR now.  The bathroom was quite large with an outdoor shower leading to the back patio.  The back patio was also a nice size with a hammock, coffee table and 2 Adirondack chairs.  Quite a lot of space.  So quiet, but for the howling monkeys.  Sunset is quickly approaching.

We grab our cocktails and head on down the road to the beach for sunset.  Pass a few Tico houses, kids and dogs playing in the yards.  At the end is a bar/restaurant, looks to be a late night hangout as we were the only ones there.  Beach is beautiful, no one on it.  Rocks, tide pools, cove of clear blue water.  It was cloudy so the sunset was not that spectacular but just being away from real life was enough. 

We headed out to dinner, not sure what we were all in the mood for.  Driving down the main road we saw Pizza, Italian, Israeli, Sushi, Argentinean, Tico, Seafood, Bakeries, and Sports Pubs.  We drove to the end of the road about 2 miles, and decided on the Open Fire Grill of the Argentinian place, Las Piedras.  Beef, Chicken Empanadas, Fresh Baked Bread and chimichurri sauce for dipping.  Chicken/Rib combo plates with baked potatoes.  Food was delicious, service was great and seeing them cook in front of us in the huge fire pit is always a plus.  Can you say stuffed? 

Just when you thought we were done for the night we see the Bakery again.  I’m not full..  not when there are fresh baked pastries so close by.  The dessert case was full of creamy chocolatey delights and clearly made it impossible to make a decision.  When in doubt, order one of each.  So yes, we order 5 desserts and are told to have a seat.  A man was playing a piano (electric) and the place was getting busy.  When we ask for coffee the server asks if we want decaff or regular.   Jump back!  Say what???   Decaff coffee?  Say it ain’t so!  Decaff coffee is unheard of in Costa Rica and as someone who only drinks decaff, it was like Christmas morning!  So yes, yes indeed, I want decaff por favor..   Great atmosphere, service and delicious decaff coffee.  The desserts were to die for, each one even more creamy and delicious than the one before.  Of course we all had our own opinion on the favorite but in all honesty, they were all to die for.  Of course I also ordered 2 new ones to go, “for breakfast” the next morning.  NOW we are stuffed.  It’s 9pm and we are still awake?  Not for long. 

At 4:20am I was woken by the sweet, sweet sound of rain on my roof.  Our dry season is from December through April and at my house in the mountain, I’ve only had one decent rainstorm in the last few weeks.   When you don’t hear it for that many months it is a very welcome sound.  I was also woken by the same monkeys that put me to sleep the night before.  Although I have them at my house, they are further away, and my bedroom ceiling is concrete.  When they are directly above your room and the ceiling is metal, ooooh boy is it loud.  Loud is good when you are in the jungle though.  It makes you feel alive and want to get out of bed and explore.  I jumped up, grabbed my phone to take pics and videos, grabbed a cup of tea and sat on the back patio just listening to the rain as daylight arrived.  It was so peaceful with the rain, the birds, monkeys, chickens, roosters all waking up.  Hummingbirds were all over the flowers right next to my patio.  They are so fascinating to me.  The resort also has a little 7 month old puppy, Indio, who had come in my room the night before and snagged a K-Rae’s Koozie and ran.  I thought maybe he was returning it.  LOL  He hung out with me for quite a while this morning and was so excited when Pam and Lou came over to join me with coffee.  The resort offers free breakfast so we walked over at 7am in our PJ’s and opted for the typical Tico meal.  Coffee, Eggs, Gallo Pinto, Toast, fresh fruit and fresh fruit juices or smoothie.  Food was great and quick and our server/chef was wonderful.  Time is a tickin though and the beach is calling us.

We drive back up the main road looking for a nice sandy spot to hang out on.  We decide on the Banana Beach Club.  Huge place that looks like it’s probably very busy after sunset or possibly on Sundays.  We grabbed out cushioned loungers right on the beach and waited for a server to come.  Great thing about this place, they didn’t bother us or make us feel like we were only welcome if we ordered right away.  As we chilled out people started trickling in.  the current was so strong though, no swimming today.  Finally ordered a blueberry mojito which was delicious, and a few beers.  So nice to just sit and relax, being waited on for a change.  Ordered Tempura shrimp to hold us over and they were perfectly battered and cooked.  Hung out a bit longer then headed home to hang in the pool and get ready for dinner. 

Six years ago they had also stayed at another place up on the hill, Vista de Ollas, so we went there for a pre-dinner drink and sunset.  The place is beautiful with an infinity pool and hot tub overlooking the ocean.  There were about 30 people there; a few in their 40’s but most were early 20’s.  Lots of muscles and thong bathing suits.  Music on the stereo was techno?  Or whatever they call it when every song sounds the same and no vocals, or as Lou would say, “Harmony”.  There are few types of music I cannot handle and that, unfortunately, is the number 2 type for me.  We all laughed at how old we all felt.  Watched the sunset, finished our drinks and headed out for dinner.  Oh no, another big decision to make..   dinner. 

We decided on Italian.  Pam and I were in the mood for a nice pasta dish.  We get to Amici, on the main road.  As soon as we see the menu and the Antipasto platter with meats and cheeses and fresh baked breads, the Pasta dish idea went out the window.  Then the piece de resistance..  Beef Carpaccio.  Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE Beef Carpaccio and it’s very hard to find, especially here in Costa Rica.  I was so excited.  Bottle of Sangiovese wine, Antipasto Platter and Beef Carpaccio.  Perfect.  But wait, more of that techno music playing.  Really?  What am I missing?  No worries, Lou asks the server if they wouldn’t mind putting on something “with harmony”?  “Absolutely” she says.  Nice music, delicious food, great service, wonderful company.    Another great dining experience.  Can you say stuffed?    Oh no, will we have room for dessert? 

We decide we are too full for dessert but we can stop and pick up a few chocolate croissants for tomorrow breakfast.  Again, if you’ve known me for more than 5 minutes you’ll know how that turned out.  We ordered the lava cake with ice cream and the chocolate mousse pie and a chocolate éclair and coffees, decaff.  So creamy and delicious.  Our thoughts of “bar hopping” were quickly changed to..  I need to be horizontal, now. 

Monkeys weren’t as loud this morning and I actually slept until 5:30am.  I know, late, right?  Make my tea and sit on the patio to listen and watch.  My house is peaceful like this but it is so much more relaxing when on vacation.  Breakfast at 7am, on the road by 9.  First stop, yup, The Bakery.  Needed to stock up on chocolate croissants and other chocolate delights to enjoy at home. 

Stopped off to check out the beach at Tambor.  Reminds me of Samara and Garza.  Long beach in a cove, low tide so the water was very far out and clear blue.  As most of the beaches are in CR, this one had 3 people on it.  Someone parasailing, probably at the resort down the road.  So peaceful and clean. 

Made it home at 2:30pm after smooth sailing the whole way home.  I need a nap. 

Another successful quick trip exploring another area of Costa Rica I’ve heard so much about but have never been to.  So glad I went and with such great company in Pam and Luis Martinez.  Thanks again for letting me tag along!     xoxo

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