A Perfect Saturday in Puerto Viejo
In the beginning, talking about Puerto was easy.
Like tasting crème brulee for the first time and expressing the delicate flavor and burst of texture that met my tongue.
Some of you may have read about it here
or even here
Now, my third time in this stunning, corrupt, parasite infested, cultural mecca, I liken my experience to a daily dose of french fried potatoes.
My absolutely positively most favorite palatable item on the planet, yet so familiar and well loved, it is nearly impossible to articulate why I love it so.
Today I simply offer you a look inside my life.
In the jungle.
On the beach.
Sunlight pours in my windows.
I hear the incessant rooster, the buzzing cicadas, the occasional croak of an unidentified amphibian.
A howler monkey releases a low, ominous growl.
I may have spent the night prior dancing until the wee hours, but this day waits for no one, and my attempt to sleep further is futile.
It is 7:30am.
For the last two hours the sun has given light to the expansive clear blue sky, and people of all ages, all nationalities, all races, are busy shopping at the Saturday farmer’s market.
On my way I bump into Evi, a German expat who moved here from the Canary Islands nearly ten years ago.
She raised her two sons here and speaks with them almost exclusively in Spanish.
Moments later, inside the market, I see Molly, a friend born and raised in Puerto Viejo, holding a large bag of rambutan.
She is off to get her hair braided before teaching her yoga class.
The market is brimming with fresh fruit and vegetables, artisan bread and pastries, local chocolate, free range chickens, handmade cheese, and spicy chorizo that – with a small piece of bread – makes its claim as my first bite that morning.
I find Cassandra, a young French Canadian who has lived here with her boyfriend, a local, for the last year.
She talks excitedly about the café she plans to open.
We discuss my design ideas for the space: a fusion between her European roots and the tropical paradise surrounding us.
Fresh Italian pastries catch our eye and we devour a petit quiche filled with creamy custard and caramelized onions, savoring each potently flavorful bite.
Back at my jungle treehouse, I prepare breakfast with the goodies I purchased in the market that morning.
Juicy chunks of organic papaya, mango, pineapple, and bananas topped with a large dollop of local yogurt.
I sprinkle fresh chopped mint, sliced toasted almonds, and shredded coconut for texture and flavor.
Note: I am allergic to pineapple. But I live in Costa Rica. In other words, I eat it nearly every day, and it almost always leaves me with a burned tongue.
I hop on my severely rusty bike, throw my pack in the basket and test my poor balance skills as I pedal out to my favorite café, La Botanica Organica, in my favorite neighborhood, Playa Chiquita.
The moment I arrive in Playa Chiquita I feel an overwhelming sense of community. Expats from all over the world roam the streets, exchanging pleasantries with fellow business owners.
La Botanica Organica, owned by Lea a former New Yorker, feels like home.
I chat with Lea, her husband, and her eight-year-old child who is more entertaining than a Las Vegas show.
I meet travelers like myself, stopping in Puerto Viejo for a month at a time.
Writers, retirees, and freelance business owners.
I order a shot of noni and a steaming cup of ginger tea.
For those of you unfamiliar with noni, it is a concentrated juice in Costa Rica believed to cure any physical ailment including cancer.
The taste is so foul it needs to be experienced to be understood.
The smell is actually worse.
The first time I took a shot of this elixir, Andie videotaped the experience.
These days it is my form of detox.
The blazing sun beckons me to the beach and I hop back on my less than trusty bike and continue to pedal out to Arrecife, my favorite place in the entire world.
Sianny, born and raised up the coast in Guapiles and nearest and dearest to my heart in Puerto Viejo, waits for me at our favorite beach cove.
We laze on our matching Turkish towels.
Snorkels on, we wade into the crystal clear water, wiggling our bodies along the side of the reef.
When late afternoon rolls around we know it’s time for our special treat: rondon.
Arrecife restaurant, the beach’s namesake, makes this flavorful coconut stew brimming with fresh lobster, whole fish, crab, plantains, and yucca. The fish is bright white with freshness, the broth a rich golden yellow.
Famished we snack on patacones, plantains that are boiled, smashed, deep fried, and seasoned like thick chewy chips, with guacamole while we wait.
The owner insists we join him for a tequila shot.
And with some hesitation we do.
Because this is Costa Rica.
And nowhere else in the world can we say my two favorite words: