A HOMEY WELCOME TO PLAYA LIFE
So we’ve just left our 2nd home on the road, a lovely modern cube with beautiful vistas framed by each of its large windows. It sits atop a hill near Playa Potrero with verdant slopes climbing up on one side, and rolling down on the other towards the bright blue Pacific Ocean. All the beaches that we visited around it – Flamingo, Penca, Conchal, Danta – resemble the ones we all dream about in the midst of a Northeastern U.S. winter, charming crescents of sand, shaded by those resilient trees whose trunks have been twisted this way and that by the constant winds, and facing an ocean of perfect waves consistently curling towards the beach. Often when we visited this week, there was barely anyone on the shores or in the water, except us, just like on Gilligan’s Island, left alone to do battle with the grinding Pacific waves. Leeloo and Zoel, along with their sea-loving Tia Lorena, tried to withstand the Crushers, dig in against the Suckers, catch the Riders, delight in the Floaters, avoid the Sucker-punchers, all the while going under, over, or around the side of the foamy crests.
One of our favorites was definitely the black sand beach at Playa Danta, even if I’m likely to be getting that damn sand out of our suits for the next few months. Aside from its natural beauty, Danta also boasts a bar/restaurant and shop that are hidden from sight by palms and trees so that at first glance, you don’t even realize they’re there, but when stomachs start grumbling and visions of a midday crisp, cool white wine start dancing in your head, it’s all too wonderful to be able to step into this shady picnic area and order up some grub. And it’s tasty grub too – mango ceviche, patacones (big tostones or fried green plantains) piled with avocado, tomato and onions, or spicy kalamata hummus and chicken or the traditional casada including fish or chicken, black beans and rice, patacones and cabbage salad were my fave meals. Throw in the fact that this little oasis also has hammocks strung up between trees facing the ocean, knotted ropes and wood plank swings hanging from giant palms, and tight ropes stretched out in a large L-shape for a little ab challenge after all that eating, and there really is no reason to ever leave!
But alas… another part of Costa Rica beckons, and another home away from home selected from the Airbnb listings. Much to my surprise, unlike a hotel room you might choose from a travel or lodging site, when you rent an Airbnb home, it appears you’re actually plugging into a community. This may change as we go from country to country, but so far, the hosts we’ve met provide much more than a place to rest your head. In Playa Potrero, our host, Zora welcomed us into her home like any friend would. She introduced us to places and people (Shout out to Harry at The Shack! Thank you for a wonderful brunch and music night!), and made sure we were comfortable, even offering us a beautiful coffee table book of her gorgeous photography, which features the people and nature of this region, Guanacaste. (Thank you also for leaving your rich library in the house for your guests to peruse and enjoy!) On the heels of this experience, we’ve been in contact with our next host over this last week, and she too has been attentive and welcoming. Another in Colombia, switched around her schedule to make her place available to us in September. All this to say, we’re feeling the love from the Airbnb world, and realize that this trip would be much, much harder without it! What I like most is that the people who rent out their places appear to often be travelers themselves, and so they get us and what we’re doing instinctively. A community of travelers and hosts, who sometimes switch places, but who are always interested in helping each other. What an idea!