February 21, 2011 – Back to Nature

Our plans for the day included a drive up by the Nicaraguan border to the Guanacaste National Park – Santa Rosa. The drive took us through Santa Cruz, Filadelfia (not Flyers playing there), Belen and Liberia. When we arrived in Liberia, the province seat for Guanacaste, we thought it would be time for lunch, and what do we see across a busy intersection, but a McDonald’s. So after a lunch of pollo nugatas and quartre libre, we traveled up the Inter American highway towards Santa Rosa. There were mountains to the east of us that hold the upper rain forest and the peaks were shrouded in clouds, but we were under clear blue skies and hot temperatures. After about an hour, Jackie saw the entrance to the park, but with little advanced notice and driving at 100 K/h, I blew by it. Now even though this is a major thoroughfare, it is still a Costa Rican roadway with no shoulder and one lane in each direction. It was about 5 Km before we found a dirt road that allowed us to turn back.

Arriving at the guardhouse to the park, we were greeted by a very friendly, bilingual park guard who gave us a brief overview of the park. It seems that this park has a significant historical presence in Costa Rica since it is the place that the Ticas held back mercenaries that were attempting to take over the country in the 1860’s. They were going through a large renovation of the fortress after arsonists damaged it in 2003 setting some buildings on fire. There were walking paths through the park where we were able to see much of the jungle plants, although it being the dry season, many were dormant. Not much to see in the way of wildlife other than an iguana and a deer. It was a great day, though, seeing a part of the country we had not seen prior to this visit. Coming out of the park, we were able to see Volcan Rincon, which is an active volcano in this region, but the peak was covered in clouds, so we could not see the activity.

We drove back by way of Huaca and Tamarindo, settling there for our dinner. We had planned on eating at the little Italian restaurant we discovered on our last trip, but sadly it had closed. After passing a couple of restaurants up, we settled on Nibanna Bar and Beach Club (they were offering a 2 for 1 Happy Hour), for a cocktail while we decided on where to eat. Well, after Jackie saw the size of her 2 Long Islands, and my 2 Tom Collins, we decided to park our butts right there for dinner. This restaurant is the most highly rated one in town and rightly so. My tuna was large, cooked to perfection and had a mint and tomato compote that accented the taste perfectly. Jackie had the Pork Filet Mignon with sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan, also delightful. The service was top-notch and most friendly. When our waiter brought us the tab, he also presented us with shots of a local interest. It was Cachica, a local sugar cane liquor mixed with coconut juice and a hint of a minty flavor. It was the perfect after dinner drink.

After a stop at the Auto Mercado (for a bottle of Cachica and a can of coconut juice), it was up the hill to El Sabanero for some evening conversation and early night to bed. Just another wonderful day in paradise.

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