Tami, Puerto Viejo, Cahuita National Park

Tami, my best friend from Seattle, was here for the past two weeks. We started the trip with a four day stay in Puerto Viejo. This was the first time I have been to the Costa Rican Caribbean coast and it was all I expected and more. We stayed at the Hidden Jungle Beach House which was perfect for our time there. The first day we walked through town, shopped and ate good food. The second day we rented bicycles and rode all the way to Mazanillo. The ride was easy due to the mostly flat paved road. The scenery through the jungle was breathtaking. We stopped several times to look at monkeys, butterflies, birds and spiders. The road ended at Mazanillo so we took the opportunity to rehydrate with fresh coconut water. Later that day we ran into a woman who was on the shuttle bus with us from San Jose to Puerto Viejo. She mentioned that they had just returned from a long walk through the Cahuita National Park. That evening I pulled the map out and saw that the park was very close to where we were so we decided to go the next day.

Cahuita Beach
Tami and I took the public bus to the town of Cahuita. We walked a few blocks, luckily in the right direction, and found the entrance to the park. This part of the trip was not planned so I had no idea what to expect there. We signed in at the entrance and started our journey through a beautiful, flat path along the edge of the ocean. There were a lot of families and groups of people swimming in the beach and sunbathing at the beginning of the trail. As we walked more there were fewer people. The trail took us through breathtaking jungle that went right to the shore of the ocean.  The vegetation was simply amazing.

Cahuita Park
Not too far into the walk we spotted a troop of howler monkeys. A little farther along the trail we saw a snake, very cleverly camouflaged in the bushes. At one point we took a break and sat down on a log on the sandy shore. Not too soon after we sat down, from behind us, a raccoon appeared and walked right up to us. Both Tami and I immediately stood up and shooed the animal away. I was surprised at how tame the creature was. Later in the walk we came upon groups with tour guides that were rushing to a spot up the trail. Of course we followed and were delighted to see a two-toed sloth hanging high up in a coconut palm tree. Seeing him gave me a whole new meaning to the popular tico greeting of “Pura Vida”. The motionless sloth was hanging by three of his feet, with the fourth wrapped around his back. His face was soaking up the sunshine as he gazed over the horizon.

Cahuita Beach
It was around this area that Tami noticed that there were no waves in the water. The water was crystal blue and very calm. Then she noticed that there were waves, big ones that were breaking way away from shore. After some more observation we saw that there was a huge coral reef that surrounded the point of land. Both of us had never seen anything like that before.  After a little more walking we arrived at the center of a point of land that sticks out into the ocean. This was, without a doubt, the most beautiful place I have ever seen! When standing on the point we could see the whole coral reef that surrounds and protects the area. The ground was completely covered with pieces of broken coral and shells in every size, shape and color imaginable. There were also tons of hermit crabs. The calm blue water, the panoramic views and the jungle that went right up to the shore were absolutely incredible.

Cahuita Beach
The trail continued along the ocean and also in the shade of the trees and coconut palms. The more we walked the fewer people were on the trails. We continued on our way, I was leading in front, when I spotted a white-faced capuchin monkey walking on the ground. I saw one and then another and then another and then even more. They seemed to appear out of nowhere from behind the trees. They were all walking on the ground, which is very unusual, especially with people around. I quickly realized that the lead monkey and a few of his buddies were walking right towards us. I saw him, he saw me, there was eye contact and he kept coming towards us. I froze, thinking of those unfortunate people who have had their faces ripped off from monkeys, and raised my arms in the air. I hoped he would think I was too big to mess with and would walk a different path, but no, he kept coming closer. They got within about 15 feet of us before Tami and I both turned and retreated a few steps. They seemed to get the message that we didn’t have any food for them and they wandered away from us. That was a very exhilarating moment!  We walked through more jungle and ocean views before leaving the park and taking the bus back to Puerto Viejo. I highly recommend for everyone to visit this park.

Tami and I soaked in the Puerto Viejo culture, vibe and food and then headed back to my house for the rest of her time here. It was fun for me to give her a taste of my life here and to bring her to my favorite spots on our property. It was so wonderful to be with a friend who really understands and knows me. We had lots of girl chats and even Roxy felt she needed to hang out with us. We joked that the three of us together activated our “Girl Power”.  The visit flew by but both of us agreed she needs to come back so we can explore more parts of the country and maybe even the world together.