Sunday was our first full day of the sunny, beach portion of our Costa Rican vacation. Right away, we had a tough decision to make: Beach or pool? Decisions, decisions ...
First things first
-- Andi made Janie, the kids and I eggs, toast and fried potatoes for
breakfast (we definitely missed the luxury of having breakfast prepared
for us every morning!), then we pulled on our swimming suits and hit the
beach. Costa Rica has been surprisingly uncrowded wherever we've been,
and Piertra Beach is no exception. With low tide, we had the wide open
beach practically to ourselves. The kids were giddy with excitement over the whole scene: sandcastles, water and sunshine.
we've hardly seen any international tourists in this area. All of the
other houses at Villas Estival (there are 11 separate villas on the
property) are occupied with vacationing Costa Rican families. It's
perfectly fine, other than a stark reminder that our family needs to
learn to Spanish if we're planning to travel extensively in this part of
The beach outside our villa, Playa
Piertra, has beautiful black sand. The access road isn't clearly marked,
so it's virtually private and in pristine condition. There are hardly
any rocks or sticks in the sand, and the view is spectacular. We're
fortunate to have such a great place to spend our days.
As a parent, I never grow tired of viewing Tory's signature or cute
little drawings. She spent quite some time writing all of our
names in the sand.
at one end of the beach, we spotted 11 howler monkeys eating leaves in a
tree. They seemed too preoccupied with their meal time to care about
us, and were hanging low enough for the kids to see them. I imagined
seeing monkeys in the trees during our visit here, and I'm so happy we
were able to view them in their natural habitat.
Janie, Tory, Aden and I headed back to the house around lunchtime. We
made Aden peanut butter toast, buttered noodles and fresh fruit to eat; a
quick meal was much needed before meltdown-mode set in. When Aden went
down for an afternoon nap, Janie curled up on one of the big outdoors
beds with a book and Andi and I took Tory into town for a little day
The three of us drove about 15 minutes away to
Playa Flamingo. This area was much more toursty with hotels, shops and
restaurants. The beach was packed with peddlers selling their trinkety
treasures and both locals and travelers sunning themselves on the beach.
It had a good beach vibe, street dogs ran wild and the roads were dirty
and bumpy. This was like the Costa Rica I'd envisioned.
Andi picked Cafe del Manglar for lunch, and the three of us found a table under the shaded awning.
We sipped our choice beverages (an orange juice smoothie for Tory and
local Imperial beers for Andi and I) and listened to a Costa Rican
musician serenade us on his guitar. For lunch, Andi and I dined on fresh ceviche with house-made fried plantain chips and a caprese salad while Tory enjoyed a hamburguesa and fries. The food was very good here, and the beach-view ambiance was excellent.
lunch, we scoured the town to find a popular gelato shop the owner of
our house at Villa Estival raved about in her communications with Andi.
We finally found it in a deserted strip mall off the beaten path. The
shop was called 0039 Heladeria Italiana and didn't look like much from
the outside, but both the strawberry and Oreo cookie gelato were
delicious. The three of us sat outside in the blistering sun and enjoyed
our cool treat before heading back to the house to meet up with Aden
and Grandma Janie.
woke up from his afternoon nap a few minutes after we arrived back home, so
the five of us decided to head to the pool. The cool water felt
amazing under the blazing hot sun! We brought the kids' Puddle Jumper life jackets
along to use at the pool and the beach, and they proved to be well worth it. Prior to our trip, I was so worried about Aden having open access to water. He's taken swimming lessons for two years, but I was nervous one of us would take our eyes off him for one second, and .... anyway, life vests for both Tory and Aden gave everyone a boost of confidence around the water.
The five of us walked
down to our very own Playa Piertra to catch another amazing sunset.
This evening, I smartened up and kept Tory and Aden in their
swimming suits after the pool. There's no casually strolling along the beach for them;
Aden runs full-steam toward the ocean the minute he spots it. Tory's actually afraid of the ocean and refuses to go near the waves, but the black sand on Playa Piertra means every inch of us is dirty after a visit there.
As we walked along the beach admiring
the setting sun, Tory and Aden made friends with a group of local
children there. The locals ooh'd and ahh'd over Aden's blond hair, and
started to whistle when one of the little girls came up to shake Aden's
hand. The kids may not have been able to communicate by the same verbal
language, but the smiles and laughter they exchanged was enough to get
their message across.
Andi picked up take-out from Sol y Mar
and brought it back to our place for dinner that night. Someday we'll
have the chance to enjoy nice family dinners in restaurants, but for now
it's much easier to get food to-go and eat in the comfort of our own
house. Andi ordered fresh salad, grilled fish and
chicken and roasted vegetables for all of us. We had to eat fast before
Aden ate it all for himself!
Today was a wonderfully
relaxing day at the beach. I thoroughly enjoyed our time near Lake
Arenal in Costa Rica's rain forest, but I'm absolutely loving the sun
and the sand in Potrero.