As with most of the destinations on this vacation, my trip to Jaco was rather poorly planned. I had planned on scheduling a place to stay while I was in The Dominican Republic, but that didn’t really happen. I had been searching for a place on Homeaway.com and had even contacted a few owners before leaving for my vacation but with my travel dates being so unclear, I never finalized anything. While I was in San Jose I finally was able to get in touch with someone who had a place I thought would work for me. It turned out that someone booked the condo I wanted before I could confirm my dates. Fortunately, the owner (I think) of the condo knew of a couple other places and made some calls. He finally got back to me with a discounted rate on an even nicer place. The new place would still be more expensive, but only by about $10 a night.
I was told I could contact a guy who shuttled for the rental agency there to catch a ride from San Jose to Jaco for about $85. I didn’t call the guy until almost noon the next day, the day I was supposed to leave. He said he had some other passengers that were already scheduled but if I could be ready in ten minutes they’d be happy to get me. It turned out to be a very young couple on their honeymoon or something. Neither seemed to have much personality.
The ride was ok. I sat in the front passenger seat and drank beers that the driver offered from his cooler until we reached a bridge with a sidewalk. He told us that he couldn’t stop on the bridge but that we could get out and walk across to see the crocodiles. So that’s what we all did. Want to see some pictures of the crocodiles? Google it, I don’t have any!
As we approached the rental agency in Jaco the driver asked where we were all staying in Jaco. The young couple told him where they were staying and he said he knew where it was and would take them there after we checked in. I told him I was staying at the Paloma Blanca. He asked me if I was sure, and just stared at me awkwardly once I assured him that was the name of the place. I received a similar response from the receptionist that checked us all in. At the end of the process, he asked how many cards I would need for my family and intensified his stair when I told him it was just me. I was starting to get the impression that I had made a bad decision.
My room wasn’t ready yet but the man at the counter said it would probably be another hour. I told the driver this and he offered to hang around and drop me off once it was ready. I offered to buy him lunch in return. The driver took me to a place that he assured me was the best “soda” in town. Sodas are like a mini buffet with local food in Costa Rica. I believe this one, called Rustico, was the best in town. I ate there several times, filling up my place with a lot less rice than most other people and a lot more meat. It usually ran about $5 but they charged by the item. It could have been cheaper if I was a finicky eater. I tried it ALL and it was ALL SUPERB!
We still hadn’t heard from the receptionist at Day Star, the rental management company, so we swung back by. The guy explained that he didn’t know if they were done or not and that the keys would be left at the security desk of the condo. Off to the condo we went. It was about another five minutes heading south from the center of town. When we arrived I met the security guard, a guy I later got to know as Frank. He was extremely nice and showed me right to the condo, even offering to carry my bags. I didn’t know whether to treat the guy as security or tip him like a bell-hop. I gave him $10 or so.
I quickly realized why everyone had looked at me like I was crazy when I told them where I was staying. Not only was the place a good 5 minute drive or 20 minute walk from all the excitement, but it was HUGE! If I remember correctly it was 1200 square feet with vault ceilings. There were two large bedrooms, one king master and one with two doubles (might have been twins). Both bathrooms were awesome and the master had a full tile open shower. There was a recessed balcony off of the bedroom that seemed rather private, and another smaller balcony off the living room that commanded attention. It was also on the top floor, providing an amazing view. This was definitely a place for a peaceful family gathering or a romantic getaway. Not really the place for me, but it was amazing. I later joked with the other americans that I met that my condo had 1200 square feet and my stuff took up 3. And that was only because I went out of my way to make a mess with my clothes.
Not only was the room amazing, but the whole complex was ridiculous. There was a tici/grilling area and it had four swimming pools! I couldn’t imagine all the occupants at once filling up the first swimming pool, but it had four. One had a nice waterfall at one end that I had to ask Frank to turn on. He was happy to do it. I really think only about five of the condos were being occupied when I arrived and I only ran into a couple of other people during my entire stay, although it looked like more people were coming the weekend I left. The beach was right outside one of the two gates and there are apparently regular bond fires on the beach right outside the complex. I never made it to one, but I was assure that’s what the burn pit was for.