Paved Roads & Infrastructures in the Costa Rican Jungle!

When you´re traveling in a tropical & exotic country you don´t really pay much attention if the area is socially developed or what kind of services are offered to the resident. You only want to see what you can’t see back home; other cultures, monkeys, wild animals, jungle, nature, hidden beaches, etc…You then dream about living in the middle of all this remote jungle place to experiment the Crocodile Dundee lifestyle.
Mono Congo
However the problem starts when you decide to relocate from your comfortable developed North American or European country and suddenly find out that you´re far from everything. Each time you´re going somewhere it´s like an expedition; that the dust of dirt roads make you sick; that the only good restaurant is two hours from your place; that there´s no clinic, no pharmacy, no stores, no banks, no airport; NOTHING!!!!!!That´s why paved roads and infrastructure are actually a BIG deal!!Our region, called the Papagayo, offers all the comforts you would find back home but you are still surrounded by monkeys and all the stuff you don´t find in a modern country.
automercado
Two weeks ago I went with my family to Playa Danta which is not really very far from our area. The place is amazing! There´s a restaurant down there called Limonada located in the Las Catalina’s residential. The food was so good with live music and filed with a crowd of locals and foreigners, it was paradise, except we had to drive some parts on dirt roads and crossing a river to get there. That is ok for a one day trip but would be very annoying having to do it every single day. Danta is just an example but the reality is that many of the great places on the coast have almost no infrastructures which is great for a short period of time, discovering the beauty of Costa Rica Pacific coast, but staying there all the time would drive me crazy.
las Catalinas
The good thing about Guanacaste is that you have hundreds of places to visit within less than a 3 hour drive. There are different kinds of nature attractions available to the public which makes the entire area dedicated to tourisms so where ever you decide to go you really feel like you are on vacation. There is the Humid tropical forest of Rincon de la Vieja, the famous waterfall of Montezuma, the surfing of Playa Negra or Witches Rock, the nice little town of Nosara, the blue water and white sand of Playa Conchal, Tilapia fishing in the Tempisque or doing the Zip-line over the Canopy of Giant trees.
Montezuma
I personally LOVE going to all those remote places but after a while I just want to be back in Playa Hermosa where I feel like HOME.  I can get whatever I need within 15 minutes distance on perfectly paved roads, with the same weather, ocean, nice people that you would find anywhere else on the coast but where I can get anything from Shushi to Rack of Lamb or anything that make my life easier and more comfortable!!!!
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I don´t care what people says about our region being too developed; at the end of the day they are not the ones who have lived 32 years in Costa Rica. I appreciate everything about this country but when it comes to picking the best place to live full time it´s a no brainer; it should be the region of Papagayo, señores!!

What to do with the kids in the region of Papagayo?

The Costa Rican “Spring Break” is a 2-week period in July. The students here love to go to some of the beaches which we have in abundance. This year my eldest daughter Bianca (who lives in Atenas close to San Jose) came to visit us here in Guanacaste (particularly her little sister Samantha who is almost 3 years old).
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The “Gold Coast’s” main attractions are our beautiful beaches and perfect weather. As a result of being a main hub for tourists and a fairly large local community we have a great infrastructure which provides a plethora of different activities without having to drive large distances or many hours.

Here are some of the things we did;
Our first activity was visiting the Monkey Farm, located in Ocotal.  Other than monkeys we saw all kinds of farm animals like peacocks, pigs, horses, birds, rabbits, and I am sure I am missing one or two more. We even took pictures of Samantha on her very first horse ride. The pictures make it look like she is riding all by herself.
Cochon

Cheval-&-Samantha
The next day we went shopping at the Liberia mall. In the middle of the mall there is a huge playground. It is completely made of rubber and cushioned flooring so the kids can go wild and crazy without having to worry about their safety. This is all a HUGE world for Samantha and she was so very excited at every section of the Park, for her it was like Disney Land!!
Sammy Parc
On the third day we went to see Ice Age 4 in 3D.  In my opinion this was the best Ice Age so far!!LOL!  Our little beach community of Playa Hermosa has a very modern movie theater so this was also another cool and unique activity that you normally would not see at the other beaches.
Alain Sammy
On the fourth day we all went on a Catamaran called “Vision” for a sailing tour. The “Vision” has 2 huge platforms, one is covered and the other one is open air. They had a disk jockey spinning tunes to which all 90 passengers were dancing and having a blast everywhere on the boat. In addition to the dancing we saw manta rays, went snorkeling by a white sand beach called Playa Huevos and we also went into a couple of natural tunnels/caverns which brought us to the other side of the peninsula exiting on the other side of the bay!!  This was a very cool afternoon for all ages, not just the little kids.
catamaranla-grotte

We did all of these activities in 4 days and could have done many more things and seen many more attractions. We could have gone on a River Tour to see the crocodiles and other tropical birds, reptiles and more monkeys. There are many amazing waterfalls close by. We could have gone to Rincon de la Vieja which is our closest volcano to sit in the thermal waters, exfoliate in the mud baths or sit in a natural sauna to detoxify. How about horseback riding, zip lining, jet skiing, fishing, off roading, hiking, biking, paddle boarding, well I think you get the idea. There is no lack of activities and attractions here in our immediate area of the Papagayo Region.  Regardless if you are a resident or a tourist you can enjoy the relaxing tropical atmosphere, have limitless adventures or see many of the local attractions all very conveniently located close to home! Your choice, your pace.
Playa-Huevos
Pura Vida!

Good Job Officers

For many years, the Police Force in Costa Rica didn’t have a very good reputation. They had a very poor budget, bad administration and a lack of well-trained police officers. Sometimes police were coming to a 911 call hours after a crime was committed. You probably have seen many houses in the local neighborhoods with bars on the doors and windows because the people needed a minimum of protection due to the slow response from police. Although you see a lot less homes now with bars, however for a Costa Rican it will always be part of their cultures even as security improves drastically over the coming years in this country.
casa-con-rejas
Costa Rica is a peaceful country with no army and very little organized crime. Before the year 2000 security was not a top priority for the government but things have change since then and a need to re-enforce the security was necessary. We now have much better service from the police, brand new vehicles and trained and well equipped officers, even at the beach.
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My neighbors call me not long ago and told me that their new IPhone had been stolen from their 4X4 mule in Playa Panama and were not sure exactly what to do? I said that the first thing was to call 911 and ask the police to come. Officers Camacho and Vasques arrived around 10 minutes after the call. My neighbor had the exact location of the IPhone on her lap-top and showed it to the officers. They immediately went with my neighbor to where the signal showed the cell phone to be. They started to check everybody in the perimeter, went to a private home to investigate and ask questions to the entire neighborhood.

playa-panama
Unfortunately the IPhone was not found and they drove my neighbor back to her house. They filled out a report and presented the same night to the O.I.J. which is the organization in charge of investigating crimes. My neighbor was told that an officer would come the next day and start the investigation.
Amazingly, about 30 minutes later, the two police officers came back at my neighbor house with the IPhone 7 in their hands!! They said that somebody called them to report that a cell phone was found just next to the place the police previously investigate! It was obvious that the intervention of the police made the neighborhood nervous and was surprise how fast they knew where the phone was. The bottom line is that even if my neighbor had the technology to retrieve the phone, the effectiveness of the officer Camacho and Vasques was the main reason for why this situation was resolved in less than 1 hour. They could just have said to my neighbors to go in Liberia to fill the claim and let the OIJ do their job where it´s actually the normal procedure for this kind of case. However they took the initiative to put pressure right away and possibly scared the responsible party who probably was some young kids, who are most of the time the ones that steal things to get drugs or liquor!!Not professional thieves.
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My guess is that the dad, the uncle or a relative of the little thieves saw the kids with the IPhone and took it back, called the cops and just said that he found the phone on the ground in order to not denounce his family members. My neighbor decided not go further with the claim as the most important was to get the phone back!! I was very impressed with officers Diego & Felix who are both specialized in tourism police force in our area and knew how to keep my neighbor calm and safe during the whole process.

Congratulations to them!

Playa Panama-Family Oriented-Costa Rica

During my 32 years in Costa Rica I have visited dozens of beaches, always trying to find the best one based on the color of the sand and the clarity of the water! I always wondered why so many Costa Rican families visited Playa Panama in the Gulf of Papagayo when there are so many other attractive beaches nearby with lighter sand and clear blue water.

Personally, when I would decide to go to a beach near our area I would normally choose from some of the more beautiful beaches like La Penca, Playa Buena, Playa Huevos , Playa Nacazcol or Playa Cabuyal. These beaches all have light sand with perfect visibility; great for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking. Since the arrival of our new daughter Samantha who is now 5 years old, I finally now understand why Playa Panama is so popular with the Ticos. The sea is calm, flat and secure, almost more like a lake than the ocean, which makes it perfect for everyone; children, seniors, people who do not know how to swim and even the disabled can enjoy a day at Playa Panama without worrying about big waves or undertow.

This beach is also popular because it has so many huge Guanacaste trees that shade the entire area, so you can relax in the sand without the danger of burning your skin. Since the opening of the new 5 star Mangrove Hotel, many tour operators are also on hand to offer visitors aquatic excursions of every kind! Five years ago we decided to take Samantha to Playa Panama; it was a huge success! I took her out to where the depth was about 1 meter deep and gently bounced my little angel in the water where she immediately felt comfortable as if she was in a pool.The rest of the morning we relaxed and stared out at the beautiful ocean and surroundings, while enjoying a basket picnic made by my wife Estrella. However if we had not broughtanything to eat, it would not have been a problem as there were many local merchants offering all kinds of different food and beverage directly on the beach at a very affordable price. Playa Panama was perfect for teaching our daughter to swim in the ocean.After a while I wanted a place with a few more waves, so we went to Playa Hermosa, just six minutes away. That day, the surf was almost 2 meters high and while Samantha was taking a nap in the shade I went playing in the challenging but very safe waves of Playa Hermosa!

Pura Vida Alain
Playa Panamá Lake!

How safe is Costa Rica?

Guanacaste is a majestic province in Costa Rica, full of lush jungle, mountains and even volcanos. It is a perfect spot for people looking to get close to nature and to enjoy thrilling outdoor activities. It is home to breathtaking national parks, hot springs, blue Pacific Ocean and diversity colors of sandy beaches. For those wondering if Guanacaste, Costa Rica is safe to travel, the answer is a resounding YES. The friendliness of the local people makes it a happy, cheerful place to be.

In conclusion, as long as you have common sense and don’t get too close to the wildest of the wildlife, you’re more than safe to travel to Guanacaste in Costa Rica. Bring comfortable clothing and shoes, and all you’ll have to worry about is how best to fill your time. Come and discover what ‘pura vida’ means, take in the friendly atmosphere, and make the most of a fabulous Costa Rica vacation.

Costa Rica doesn’t have army so it´s a very Pacific country reason why Ticos don´t have any aggressiveness in their blood. Compared to the USA, Canada and other big countries Costa Rica has very little serious crime. You will find that most of the Costa Rican people are the most honest, hardworking people and they would never steal anything from you but unfortunately like everywhere they will always be a small percentage of person that dedicate their life to steal from others.

Violent or organize crime overall are almost nonexistent in our beach region. The crime that happens is usually when someone leaves something of value out in the open for someone to take. It is very rare in Costa Rica that thieves break into a house or break a window of your car to steal something however like most of the time if you leave something open or if you expose any valuable object without taking basic precaution you might get stole!!

For many years, the Police Force in Costa Rica didn’t have a very good reputation. They had a very poor budget, bad administration and a lack of well-trained police officers. Sometimes police were coming to 911 call hours after a crime was committed. You probably have seen many houses in the local neighborhoods with bars on the doors and windows because the people needed a minimum of protection due to the slow response from police. Although you see a lot less homes now with bars, for Costa Rican it will always be part of their cultures even as security improves drastically over the coming years in this country.

The OIJ and the National Police (Fuerza Pública) are Costa Rica’s two principal law enforcement bodies. The OIJ is an operational unit, whose officers can exercise police power across the country, including the power of arrest. In 1996, the Ministry of Public Security established the Fuerza Pública or Public Force, a gendarmerie which reorganized and eliminated the Civil Guard, Rural Assistance Guard, and Frontier Guards as separate entities. They are now under the Ministry and operate on a geographic command basis performing ground security, law enforcement, counter-narcotics, border patrol, and tourism security functions.

Before the year 2000 security was not a top priority for the government but things have change since then and a need to re-enforce the security was necessary. We now have much better service from the police, brand new vehicles and trained and well-equipped officers, even at the beach. Last January 2020 the U.S. Embassy’s Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) donated a K-9 building to Costa Rica’s investigative police, as well as four armored vehicles to the Ministry of Public Security and the Judicial Police. The building will provide a space for judicial officers to receive canine training and learn special investigative techniques. U.S. Ambassador Sharon Day stated that “the Embassy’s commitment to supporting Costa Rica is serious. Costa Rica is our friend and partner, a bastion of peace and stability in a region increasingly beset by organized crime and violence. Costa Rican police forces are the most capable in the region and, therefore, our goal is to give them the tools needed to be successful in improving security in their communities for the benefit of Costa Rica and the United States.

Another factor that prove that Costa Rica is a safe place is when worldwide situation of pandemic like the “Covid-19” appears, Costa Rica and especially the province of Guanacaste had extremely low cases registered of infected people and most important low cases of death. The Costa Rican government took very serious measures that was religiously respected to a very rational volume of residents and Costa Rican in which reach amazing results in a Pandemic that cause a lot of damages to the rest of the world.

Moving in Costa Rica and living in the region of Playa Panama, Playa Hermosa, Playas del Coco and Playa Ocotal will probably be the wisest and safest decision a foreigner could take to change his lifestyle and start a new adventure in a Pura Vida world.