A January 2003 trip
to Samara by Marianne
Quote: Samara: the perfect place to meet ticos, eat gallo pinto, and do some bird watching.
High up, balancing on a sweeping branch she is watching me. "Look," he continues, "she is carrying a baby." I can just make out a hump on her back.
"Look, there are more." His expert eyes saw another one before I had even realized there was a whole family. "They are spider monkeys." I step back a bit because they are getting too close. "You needn’t be afraid, usually they stay up.""Usually," I say suspiciously. "You can trust me, I work with monkeys." I study them. "Look at their long thin arms and legs. They use them to swing through the canopy." Alright, he has reassured me.
In front of me is Samara Bay. The beach makes a picture postcard, not pockmarked by ugly sun umbrellas and sun loungers closely packed together. No beach vendors. It is a horseshoe bay with an off-shore reef which makes it safe to swim. I am sitting under a carefully chosen palm tree, one without coconuts. They fall unexpectedly and are one of the causes of premature death in tropical countries, I once read.
It is a 45-minute walk to the far end of the beach. On the way back we visited Jaime Koss’s Art Gallery. His art is vaguely reminiscent of Picasso and Gaugin. He starts by painting his canvass completely yellow, then applies a second layer and paints and scratches out figures and themes inspired by string instruments, faces half human, half violin. The dominant colors he uses are red, blue, and yellow. We looked through a whole lot of canvasses, listening to one of Mozart’s string quartets as background music. The gallery doubles as a lending/exchange library of English books, mostly by American authors.
A soft buzzing sound attracts my attention. Overhead I see a kind of big kite which appears to be the "The Flying Crocodile". It’s an ultra-light aircraft, which you can rent with or without a pilot.
"Do you have a reservation?" the tourist information man in Liberia had asked us. "You won’t find a room, everyone is heading for the beach between Christmas and the New Year.""We’ll find something." "It’s 27 December," he continued, rubbing it in, and started making telephone calls. Finally his perseverance was rewarded: Cabanas Playa Samara was to be our next destination.
Our man appears again, in one hand our piece of paper in the other, two towels, three minute bars of soap, and two toilet rolls--very generous considering that we are staying only four nights--and a padlock.
Cabanas Playa Samara is a two-story building, with 82 rooms. It is a coming and going of Ticos. These Costa Rican holidaymakers look happy and are enjoying themselves as much as we are. A lot of activity is going on. We climb the stairs which have uneven steps, some higher, others lower so that I almost trip. I look down on to a yard full of parked cars, and the caretaker or owner’s family enjoying their lunch. Loud music blares out from one of the rooms. The music from the fairgrounds is clearly audible.
There is a double bed, a table, and a fan. No hooks to hang clothes on, no chair. The bathroom is complete with washbasin, toilet, and cold water shower. There''s no shower head so that we have to wriggle around the stream to get wet.
We look at each other approvingly. No leaking tap, no continuously flushing toilet, no sewer smell, freshly laundered towels, soft pillows, and a flimsy but firm mattress. Only the music from the fairgrounds had the prospect of disturbing our night’s rest.
We padlock the door and go to inspect the beach.
To seasoned travelers who can live with the bare necessities, I recommend Cabanas Playa Samara as this is an opportunity to meet holidaying Ticos.It is a fairly noisy place. After all, it has 82 rooms. Besides, there is a disco almost next door, but the "hump hump hump" music did not disturb us, neither did the music from the fairgrounds. Besides the funfair is only there between Christmas and New Year''s. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 28, 2003
Cabinas Playa Samara
Next To The Football Field
Samara, Costa Rica
I follow with my eyes a flight of pelicans, one by one they dive into the sea, float on the waves, and swallow their catch. Up they fly again to find another tasty mouthful.
I could sit here forever and maybe I have to because service is slow. Several "tables" arrived before us. Only when one table is completely served, orders from the next table are taken.
During our five-day stay in Samara, we almost became regulars. We had chosen this beach-side restaurant because of its shade, easy chairs, and view of the ocean. A second consideration was the big mugs of coffee and. . . the second one half price!
One day we ordered snapper which came with French fries and salad. The snapper was not "haute cuisine." It was just tossed into a deep frying pan, but the result was delicious, very crispy, and we could eat fins, tails, and everything--we only left the head behind. This was our evening meal and by the time we were (finally) served, there was no salad left so we got a double portion of French fries.
Another time we ordered casado, Costa Rica’s national dish. It consists of rice, black beans, mashed potatoes, fried bananas, and a choice of fish filet or chicken cutlets. I took the fish which came with a wedge of a sweet/sour orangy lemon and a salad of shredded white cabbage and one slice of tomato.
Most of the mornings we had breakfast here, we ate gallo pinto, a fry up of yesterday’s left-overs--usually rice and black beans accompanied by scrambled egg and tortilla. We also ordered delicious, cold fruit drinks: tamarind, papaya, and passion fruit. They come diluted with water or milk. We never ordered toast and jam, or toast and fried eggs. Why should we? We can eat that all other 338 days, when we are not in Costa Rica.
La Prencesa de Samara
Main Street In Front Of The Sea
Samara, Costa Rica
We noticed an attractive restaurant next to the football field, which looked quite airy. A high, pointed ceiling with two revolving fans assured a breath of fresh air -- the ceiling was high enough, that is, not to put you in the line of the draft at each revolution of the blades. The restaurant is open on two sides, only a railing separates it from the football field. It is surrounded by green-leafed bushes, some young palm trees, and banana shoots. Above the entrance there is a veranda -- diners look out over the street and can just catch a glimpse of the ocean.
Soft background music welcomed us. Near the entrance a bull’s skull with fierce looking horns guarded a display of bottles, all truly Spanish wines. We did not try them, as we intended to go for a walk in the afternoon.
There were just enough people to enhance the atmosphere. Most of them were Americans and a few from Europe, judging from the languages they spoke.
It was not very difficult to make a choice. We had already set our mind on paella. It took about twenty minutes to prepare. It contained big shrimp, shellfish, octopus, and chicken. The taste was deliciously salty -- it tasted of the sea. We finished our meal with black Costa Rican coffee and I added "coffee" to my what-to-buy-in-Costa Rica list.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 3, 2003
Restaurant Las Brasas
In the Centre next to the Football Field
I am a spectator and do not know what I have come to see.
I had climbed the rickety stairs, ticket in hand, and found myself in an arena. Seats on two sides, "wall bars" at the far end. On a crowded platform, officials making announcement about local shops, restaurants, and sponsors. Outside the arena, an ambulance is always ready to come into action. There are two horses mounted by lassoed cowboys. Finally, from the rapidly spoken Spanish, one word stands out: torros (bulls).
Kissing the soil and crossing himself.
Men are presented to the public, they kiss the soil, cross themselves and draw lots. Names are announced. More announcements, more introduction.
Shouting, clapping, whistling. The first bull enters the ring, jumping, wriggling and throws off his rider in less than a minute. A whole bunch of young daredevils jump into the ring, teasing the bull. Some bulls get worked up and are running around the ring, sending everyone diving over the fence. The officials allow these young Romeos to impress their Juliets before they send out the cowboys with their lasso to catch the bull and then it starts all over again.
In between, the public is entertained, young boys are interviewed, there are singing and dancing contests. The last rider is thrown off in a nasty way, picked up by four men and shoved through a trap window in the fencing on to the waiting ambulance.
A loud applause ensues and then we see a bull rider in a wheelchair, disabled four years ago. Money is donated. The show has come to an end. A last announcement -- the injured rider need not go to hospital . . . relief.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 20, 2003