We visited Costa Rica in late March, 2023. It was our fist trip abroad on an airplane, after Covid, and also our first trip since our fathers both passed away last year. Mom joined Diana and I on this trip.
We stayed in Costa Rica for two weeks. They ended up being two very different experiences despite us being in the same general area the whole time. Week one was rainy, with clouds in the morning and afternoon thundershowers and downpours. Week two was hot and sunny.
We flew to Liberia, to the west (Pacific) side of Costa Rica. We arrived on a Sunday afternoon. We picked up a rental car and settled in at a nearby hotel. It had a nice pool area.
The next day we stocked up on groceries in Liberia, and then drove to Samara, to the coast. Halfway along the drive we ran into a heavy downpour, and I almost had to pull over to wait it out – the road started flooding. But we managed to keep going with the wipers on high, and soon the deluge tapered off. We drove past Samara, to Playa Carillo, and then up a very steep dirt road to our destination – Villa Aquila.
Villa Aquila is a house perched high on a ridgetop overlooking the Pacific coast. A rainstorm was just clearing up when we arrived.
Misty clouds swirled around the jungle canopy below.
The house is a sprawling Mexican-style villa, probably built in the 1970s. Much of the furniture and decorations seem to date from that era. The whole house projects an aura of old-fashioned grandeur – you can just tell it was proudly built by someone of high social standing, and that it was thoughtfully designed by an architect. The house feels like a well lived-in family home, rather than a bland tourist vacation rental.
Outside are gardens and a pool area.
The pool even has a diving board
Sitting and lounging areas surround the pool area.
I liked how the Mexican tiles reflect in the pool, completing the pattern.
At the back of the garden, at the edge of the ravine, was a little seating area we called the mirador (viewpoint in Spanish). Diana is standing at the mirador in the next picture.
We would start our day at about 6:30 am, brew a pot of coffee, and we would sit at the mirador, and watch the birds fly from tree to tree.
This bird is called a Great Kiskadee
One morning we were visited by a flock of four Scarlet Macaws.
These spectacular birds were attracted to a fig tree (ficus) in the garden. They proceeded to gobble up the unripe fruit.
Scarlet Macaws are a very rare and highly protected species. In the past, many were captured as pets, and pre-columbian people hunted them for their feathers, which they used in their head dresses. At one point these birds were virtually wiped out in Costa Rica. The birds we observed are a result of reintroduction efforts.
After our morning coffee, we would have breakfast beside the pool. We cut up lots of tropical fruits: papaya, pineapple, mango, local bananas, and watermelon.
After breakfast we would pack up and head to the beach.
I think Playa Carillo is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. Diana and I spent a day here 15 years ago, and I vowed to come back to spend more time here.
Playa Carillo is backed by a strip of coconut palms that provide some shade. The trick is not to sit directly underneath the coconuts, in case one should fall and land on one’s skull.
Mom loves to swim in the sea. I helped her get past the rough surf. We couldn’t believe how warm the water was.
Diana loves to go for beach walks.
Mom went for a beach walk too.
I messed around in the surf with a boogie-board.
There was a coconut vendor at the far end of the beach, and we treated ourselves to fresh, cold coconuts.
The clouds would build by early afternoon, and thunderstorms would threaten. We would pack up and head back to the villa.
Back at Villa Aquila
Having an afternoon swim at the villa.
We spent time relaxing in the hammocks.
Reading our books.
Invariably there would be an afternoon thunderstorm. Then, at sunset, the weather would clear once again. We would pour ourselves a happy-hour drink and watch the sunset at the mirador.
These photos suggest a quietness about them, but in reality it was anything but quiet. Howler monkeys were growling in the trees all around, the cicadas were buzzing at ear-splitting volume all around us, and thunderstorms were rumbling in the distance.
Continue to part 2 – the sunny week