sunday morning brought about an inhumane 5:30am shuttle pickup from our hotel to santa teresa, a beach village on the shores of the nicoya peninsula. it's not necessarily a far distance, but the poor quality of the roads and the need to take a ferry brings the one way trip to about 6 hours. we're also treated to the first time arenal volcano has been visible, so all in all the early start time was worth it.
after a bumpy and rollicking 2.5 hour drive thru the mountains, we arrive in puntarenas to take a 1-hour boat ride to paquera, where it's another 1.5 hour drive into mal pais/santa teresa. and where it's sunny and warm!
we arrive at casa colina, a charming 4-room bed & breakfast run by dave (surf instructor at tropicolas surf school) and ariana, who runs a horseback riding outfit nearby. the location is superb, as it's set up on a hill overlooking playa carmen. in fact, here's the view from our bed:
the rooms are wonderful - bright and airy with the wooden shutters opening up wide for panoramic ocean views. the king bed has mosquito netting (if you want to sleep with the shutters open), there are two rocking chairs window-side (where i downed many an imperial) and there's a safe to store your valuables. downstairs is the communal area - replete with a dining area, hammocks, tv room, kitchen and books (in both english and german).
the vibe in santa teresa is wonderfully carefree and relaxed, so it's a refreshing change from all the activity in la fortuna. we head into town - meaning a 5 minute walk to the main street - for lunch at soda amistad, where i inhale a pineapple smoothie along with some arroz con pollo.
afternoon is spent checking out the surrounding neighborhood/beach and hanging out with the other travelers, leaning on them for what's good to eat, what's cool to check out, etc. dave mentions that brisas del mar is the only meal in town - plus it's literally next door - so i happily use my xmas gift (thanks mom & dad!) to splurge on the best dinner of the trip. the location, ambiance and service is second to none and extremely romantic: it's on a secluded bluff extending and overlooking the beach, so it feels like you're eating in outer space with only your companion(s) around.
started with a caipirinha to kick off the night, followed by a fresh ahi roll w/asian cabbage in rice wrapper, the mixed seafood grill (had to take advantage of our proximity to water) and ended the meal with a brownie topped with vanilla bean ice cream. it was an unforgettable meal and one i certainly hope to return to...