PUERTO VIEJO: General Comments

Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast is a perfect place. Not too many people and those that are here are interesting to watch. The community is honest and open with good nooks and crannies to discover. The breezes are frequent and the streets are clean.... in fact, while we were out one night downtown, a couple of kids threw some glass bottles onto the street where they promptly shattered into thousands of shards. Within minutes of this happening, two of the shopkeeps came out into the street with brooms and dustpans and swept up all these little bits. (Contrast this with Manuel Antonio where the garbage was overflowing from the trash cans and old cans, bottles, ice cream wrappers, and other trash was just everywhere - on the beach, in the gutter, on the sidewalks...)

After a week in Puerto Viejo, it was only the next adventure's promise that drew us away... we were heading to La Fortuna to see the volcano.

Beaches are truly deserted most of the time, though Playa Negra does get some folks as does just south of Puerto Viejo, but only on the weekends.

In spite of the standard souvenir fare from each vendor (and all at the same gringo prices), I liked seeing the stands with bead necklaces and t-shirts and bootleg Bob Marley CDs. The local dogs cruising about on their short legs (why do all these Costa Rica dogs seem to have short legs?) wove in and out of the bicycle and foot traffic, pausing to greet another dog or just have a rest.

I like that the road to get there is bumpy and rough. Maybe it will keep the hoards from running over the quieter life on the Caribbean coast. They were paving the main road down to Puerto Viejo while we were there, but Boi-Boi said, "That's not real asphalt. It will be gone before they're done."

Other notes about Puerto Viejo:

Lulu Berlu, located a block or two west off the main drag, has many cool items, though many of them are imported from Mexico. They have a large selection of bathing suits and I believe the suits were made by the owner. I did not purchase a bikini there (in spite of their cool designs) because no one needs to be subjected to my white fat ass in a bikini during their vacation. I would have taken a picture of her place, but there was a prominent NO PICTURES sign.

When the sun goes down, there's a Kabob Lady on the corner of the main drag in PV. Delicious
kabobs in beef or pork, loaded with some sort of spicy sauce if you so desire. TASTY!

While there are a numbe
r of "street vendors" here, there aren't as many as Manuel Antonio.

Puerto Viejo is flat - meaning you can comfortably walk or ride a bike for miles and miles. Bikes are available for rent at several places.

Several of the restaurants offer VEGAN and vegetarian fare, including Bread & Chocolate. I did not notice vegan food in many other places in Costa Rica. That being said, I don't care about eating vegan food and am quite fond of all meats, but having been raised vegan, I know many folks do like the vegan lifestyle.

There were many folks we met who asked where we were from... but none of them asked, "What do you do?"

As we drove down one of the streets of Puerto Viejo, we passed THREE random horses just wandering down the street - no bridles, no halters - just horse.

Everyone we met there, we liked right away...
Liam - the Cafe Mango bartender, who has the coolest custom bike in all of Costa Rica with two seats, but it's not a tandem bike. Notice the picture to your left.

Dutch - the poker dealer and general roustabout.

John - who keeps those crazy hippy kids at Rocking J's in line.

Boi-Boi - the lady from Jamaica who made Puerto Viejo her home many years ago, but continues to bring the real Jamaica to your dinner plate.

Mister Big J - up in Cahuita, but cl
ose enough!, and all the staff at Banana Azul. I know there's more we met and chatted with, but you get the idea.... or maybe you don't.

A go-your-own-way vibe permeates the whole southern Caribbean coast and the mix of Spanish and island Caribbean and English jingles through the slow minutes of the days. It was my first introduction to life in another world from the United States and a fine place to start my passport stamp collection.

If you want to learn a bit more about this lovely little spot, click here to visit a great website about the local area.