Days 20 and 21 – Alturas to El Remanso: It starts and ends with tea

Friday & Saturday 10 & 11 March 2023 – Yesterday (Friday 10th) was a day of blissful relaxation. It started with an uplifting discovery at breakfast

and, erm, that was it. We spent the rest of the day in utter sloth. It was wonderful. These holidays travels are great things, but the programme we’d followed thus far was pretty intense, so a day with nothing on the agenda was a pleasure. Villas Alturas even did our laundry for us, for $16, which was very welcome.

All good things, however, have to come to an end, and our schedule insisted that we leave this morning (Saturday 11th). We had a moment of quiet bogglement as we checked out of Villas Alturas. The nice lass, whose name I don’t know how to spell, but which sounds like KC, asked us, in English, where we came from (not an unusual question, we’ve found). When we replied “from England”, she slightly floored us by asking “what language do you speak there?” We had to explain that English was the native tongue of England, rather than, say, German.

The plan was to get to Puerto Jiménez, where we would drop off the hire car, apologise abjectly for the small scuff we’d inflicted upon it and then a driver would magically appear and take us on to our next stop.

That’s pretty much what happened.

The journey over was pretty unremarkable, on good roads.

past plantations which we thought were probably for palm oil

though not all was well in some places.

We arrived in Puerto Jiménez, found the petrol station to refuel the car and a supermarket to refuel the tonic that would go with the remnants of our gin, and deposited the hire car at the office there, finding a decent route to the office despite the efforts of Waze, it has to be said.

The lass at the car hire place didn’t seem too put out at the scuff marks on the car (but I guess we’ll find out how seriously National Rental view these things as I keep an eye on our credit card statement over the coming weeks).

Our next destination is another Lodge, called El Remanso, which is on the Osa Peninsula, in the south of Costa Rica, on the Pacific coast . The arrangement was that someone from the Lodge would come and collect us. Officially, we’d have about an hour to wait, since we were early (because we’re well-mannered, and being late is rude). The hire car lass kindly got in contact with El Remanso to tell them we were here and had hardly put the phone down when a chap, Luis, arrived to collect us. I suspect that was serendipity, but it was nice not to have to sit around.

The ride to El Remanso was along a dirt track which was a bit rough, and was obviously being improved – widened

and the surface being worked on, though how this

was going to soften the ride isn’t immediately clear to me.

After three-quarters of an hour, we arrived at the Lodge and were processed into their system. Wonderfully, and rather noisily, we were serenaded towards the reception area by a pair of Scarlet Macaws, which makes me optimistic that we might get a decent photo of one whilst we’re here. They’re beautiful creatures, but hideously noisy.

El Remanso makes a big thing of its sustainability, so that a few things had to be explained, for example:

  • Their electricity is entirely from solar panels or hydrolelectric. So – no hairdryers to be used. (We realised at this point that there would be no kettle in the room, or a fridge in which to keep the tonic cold, which is a bit of a facer.)
  • To minimise waste, meals are pre-ordered one meal in advance – so you specify lunch at breakfast time and dinner at lunchtime.
  • There’s no air conditioning. No particular surprise there, since being efficient with electricity is important. And, the windows have no glass in them although they do have insect screening (philosophical question: is a hole in the wall that lets light and air in still a window if it has no glass in it?).

We were shown to the restaurant area

which is entirely open and built on a scaffold of bamboo. It has a bar in it and they are happy to provide ice, which came in handy when we treated ourselves to a G&T in our room, which they eventually showed us to. It took them a while, to be honest. It is clear that they wish you to know that they think that customer service is terrifically important, and everyone who helped us was friendly and cheerful; but they still left us sitting around for rather a long time when we would have been much happier to be settling into our room.

That was a minor whinge, and our large, comfortable-looking room has a terrific view

which, as you can see, overlooks the swimming pool, giving rise to a more major whinge, involving a family of Americans (two parents, two kids) who spent an unconscionable amount of time enjoying a pool game which we inferred was called “Marco Polo”, because they kept bloody shouting it, again and again and again and again. They were clearly having lots of fun. Us? Not so much.

We had arranged as early a dinner as possible – 6pm – and went to the restaurant for a perfectly decent meal, courteously and promptly served. And the day ended as it began as we made a delightful discovery

which augurs well for tomorrow’s breakfast.

Unsurprisingly, El Remanso organises Things To Do – there are trails through the forest, there’s a beach and so much can be made of walking about; and there are guides to do formal excursions. We have a night walk and a forest hike over the next couple of days, so I can now formally declare that the break from relentless wildlife photos is over. I hope to be able to share lots more with you over the coming days. You lucky, lucky people!

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