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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Easter In Samara Beach

I can't stop looking at my feet! They are actually uglier than my wretched post-chemo hair style with their patch-sized red blotches that look ready to blister or bleed at any moment. The redness on my shoulders and left knee cap are like beacons to the wandering eye of people approaching. What has that woman done to herself? Or maybe they, that's gotta hurt. Which it does.

All this after a two hour session on the beach. That quick hose-down with the alcohol-based spf15 was a disaster, shield wise. Big holes in my protective armour. The insides of my arms, a swath on my belly and now my ears don't match my body anymore. I have un-accessorized myself.
The sunless tanning lotion I used the week prior to arriving has worn off in patches, the marshmallow white skin poking through that glorious rich brown shade. The hot springs at Arenal, here in Costa Rica, chipped at it enough to let the sun in. I figured I was good-to-go and today can barely stand to wear sandals. Or a bed sheet. Or a smile. Of course the pavement and sand are too hot to go without shoes, so I'm not going too far. Good thing there are lots of beach restaurants with chairs beneath wide palm tree branches. There is a place in heaven for everyone.
A decision has been made to get back into the rental vehicle that sits collecting iguana pooh and dust at $57 a day. A town only 5 km away has an excellent two table restaurant named El Dorado we are prompted to visit. Sounds a little too small for us, but what the heck. It can only go one of two ways. We get food poisoning for the few days we have left here or we don't. As I said, I can't go too far with these feet, so what else were we doing?
You must cross a riverbed that still has a river running through it to get to the restaurant or else travel another 21 km up a mountainside to come at the town from the other side. El Carmen. Population 10 by our eye count. To get there you pass by the next beach south of Samara called Playa Carrillo. The sides of the road are lined three deep with cars, vans, three wheelers, quads, tents and people everywhere. It's Easter in Costa Rica. No liquor sales at the store, restaurant or bar for two days. It doesn't look to be a problem with the stacked coolers between all the tents. A very white sand stretch with minimal surf is choked with bobbing bodies, kids running, dog's tails wagging and everyone is happy, happy. As they say here, Pura Vida! (Pure heaven)
We think we are lost a few times as we travel up and up and twist and wind around impossible but astoundingly paved roads until we reach an intersection we can't agree on. We back up to the sign hidden behind the shrub to try and read it again. Go straight, I say, so he turns right. This is Barry's new "rule." Do the opposite of what Deb figures. Unfortunately, I am beginning to see that he is right and the rule does seem to work? I don't really care how we get to where we're going as long as we get there. I do, however, care about that smug look on my husband's face.

We pass people soaking lazily in the river we are following and more flower and mango-treed properties. We ask directions of a carpenter building a house and he's never heard of El Dorado. A younger man tells him something in Spanish to which he replies in Spanish, "that's its name?"
We round two more corners and spot the sign hanging off a blue stucco canteen. An open air eatery with bright green linens draped over solid wood tables. The menu boasts mostly seafood but accommodates everyone with even a hambergesa con papas (burger and fries). For me, it's the best and biggest bowl of seafood soup I have ever seen. A whole fist-sized crab, an entire lobster tail, a 6 inch strip of dorado, a dozen or more clams and mussels, sliced octopus and calamari and two of the largest shrimp we have seen in Costa Rica. For 4000 calones (about $8). Well worth the drive and the smug face, we profess over and over. Best part is the mother and daughter team of cook and waitress try to communicate with our broken Spanglish and never once laugh at my silly touristy red blotches on my body.
On the way home, we braved the river bed after watching a dozen vehicles much lower to the ground than ours, roar through. We made it easily and were back to the hacienda within minutes.

The second best thing we did while in Samara Beach was go on a nature hike with a young man named Alvaro Teran who took us up the mountain behind Samara to his Grandfather's Werner Sauter Biological Reserve. Alvaro picks you up at your accommodation and drives you to the start of a two hour trail he has hand cleared through a dense forest of typical Costa Rican trees and plantation. He knows a lot about everything you see. The tour climaxes at a spectacular viewpoint of both the Carrillo and Samara bays. Alvaro offers fruit and cereal bars before guiding us back down the far side of the mountain. He fills up our bags with fresh mangoes and mangas from the field before returning us to the Bambula.
It was a good climb up in that heat- all part of the master detox plan. Get that fresh air in and sweat all the toxins out.
I spent a good ten minutes letting the shower water run over my head before I could get out. It was a coincidence, I'm sure but I suddenly realized I needed to comb my hair for the first time! It had somehow grown enough since my last shower to need to be swept to one side or the other so that it didn't stick up. (no, it's no-where near my eyes yet! It's still only an inch at the longest part.)

We settled in for a home made seafood pasta dinner on the deck, clinking glasses of wine in celebration of the combing mile-stone. We didn't bother to run the air conditioning to try and drown out the noisy frogs, howler monkeys, cicadas and iguanas that try to drown each other out every night. With all that fresh air and exercise we slept extremely well!

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