An extremely rare phenomena – a Central American hurricane – made a late morning landfall on Thanksgiving Day in Costa Rica. As Otto’s projected path changed – so did our plans. Fearing mudslides on the Braulio Carrillo, we scrapped Plan A (Bocas del Toro, Panama). Mudslides on Ruta 27 made us reject Plan B (Nicoya Peninsula).
Finally we decided to play it safe and go with Plan C – stay home and throw together a last-minute festive dinner. We had roast chicken, stuffing, green beans and roasted potatoes with gravy. I even concocted cranberry sauce using precious dried berries from my stash.
We lit a few candles and had a lovely Thanksgiving meal out on our patio. In our part of Costa Rica, Hurricane Otto wasn’t nearly as bad as we had feared. Atenas saw little rain and an occasional gust of wind – but our neighbors to the north were not so lucky.
After dinner we came up with Plan D – the southern Caribbean! With 3 days left of the long weekend – we could still have a family adventure close to our original Plan A. If the weather and road conditions permitted – we would go for it.
We took off Friday morning and left the laptops behind!
Before we left, I did a last minute Airbnb reservation in Playa Manzanillo de Limon.
Our house was on the left just before the road turns into Playa Manzanillo. The property is five acres of manicured tropical beach front jungle – complete with several streams, gorgeous buttressed trees, huge palms, an ocean side swing and plenty of bananas.
Less than a five minute walk away, Manzanillo is one of the least touristy southern Caribbean beach villages. The whole town is actually part of the reserve, so there are restrictions on development. There are no big hotels or supermarkets and not much of a party scene. It’s hot, humid and there are plenty of bugs. But there is incredible nature, not a few dreadlocks and generous portions of rice-and-beans cooked in coconut milk. Be careful with their chilero (homemade hot sauce with vegetables) though, because they do not mess around.
The location of our place was amazing. Saturday morning I woke up at 4:30 and watched the sunrise on the beach. I finished up my cup of coffee and went for a run through town and over the foot bridge into the heart of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve.
I greeted an old fisherman in a little turquoise boat parked under the bridge and then found myself all alone in the Reserve. The early morning tropical sun blazed as I ran up the jungle steps and then stopped on the edge of Punta Manzanillo. My heart was pounding as I watched the huge waves crash on the rocks.
When I returned to our Airbnb house, I found Carlos and Phineas lying on their backs in the driveway. They were watching a family of 8 monkeys – including 2 babies – play in the treetops.
The rest of Saturday was spent doing very important stuff. . . tree climbing, swinging, beer drinking, eating whole snapper at Maxi’s and a staging a tropical beach photo shoot.
Plan D was a winner!