Puerto Viejo de Talamanca was someplace like I had never been before. The Caribbean influence was everywhere you looked. Even the houses did not look like those we are used to seeing. Many of them were constructed from pieces and bits of wood and lumber that the owners managed to scrounge up from someplace. Only the main street through town was paved, the rest were all that mixture of hard packed mud and rocks. Not gravel, rocks. Even keeping an even keel walking was difficult.
We strolled around our little neighborhood, which took all of five minutes, and headed the two blocks over to main street. L had been here before so he sort of knew where things were. But, since things change all the time, we thought it best just to explore and see what was new, what was old and what there was to do and eat.
Main Street was a hodge podge of restaurants, hotels, a grocery store, a small bank and many vendors, selling the usual tourist crap. Nothing too exciting here. The next day we were planning a little side trip for the day, so we wanted to check out bike rentals.
We were going to spend the next day exploring and beachcombing. There is an 8 mile stretch of road, an extension of main street really, that follows along the Caribbean shore and peters out before it hits the jungle with the Panamanian border. It was our intention to take this route, stopping at some of the beaches along the way. L thought we should rent bicycles, since that is what he had done the last time he was here. I didn’t say anything as we checked out the various bike rental places but I was thinking plenty! It has been years since I peddled my ass anywhere, let alone ridden a bicycle! I had no intention of peddling around the block, let alone 8 miles! I think B felt the same way. So, as we were walking around, we made L stop at motor scooter rental places also. As it turns out, they were so cheap that we decided that we may as well spend the day in style and comfort. Besides, we would be able to cover more ground and do it faster also. I think L realized also that he would have his hands full if he had to wait for us all the time on bikes. And that we would be lucky to get to the first beach even! So we arranged for rentals the next morning and headed for the grocery store.
We were going to be taking a picnic lunch with us also. Unless you are fond of tuna fish, there wasn’t much to choose from. They did have some pre-packaged meats and cheeses though. We decided that there would be enough stuff there to choose from that we would be able to put together some form of a picnic the next day. With that decision made, we headed back to the hotel for a much needed siesta and then to get cleaned up for dinner.
That evening was very pleasant. We had before dinner cocktails in the loft area of a main street restaurant and had a great view down to the street. We sipped our drinks and watched life unfold and carry on below us. All the time, the sound of reggae was coming from every corner of town. But the drinks were good so we decided to have another round. It was such a pleasant place and the weather was great. And there were no mosquitoes! So we decided to have another round. We were drinking Cuba Libres and they were just a bit strong. Three of these things and we didn’t much care where we had dinner, or if we even did. Finally, though, we decided we couldn’t just drink all night and headed off to the restaurant we had chosen for dinner. This was located on a side street, about a block off main street.
And it was closed! Now what? There was an abundance of other restaurants to choose from so we decided we would just head back and pick one out. Walking back we passed a little pizza by the slice place. The smells coming from it were so enticing we decided that pizza it was! We each order up a big slice and stood at the little bar tables set up outside to devour them. This pizza place was located right next to the local liquor store, where it is possible to buy just one bottle of beer at a time. There was quite the parade of people coming and going, and some lingering around, from this place. I don’t think any of them were sober either! B and L each had a second piece and I had a cigarette as we ate and watched the parade of people.
Next we decided to head down to a bar/nightclub we had seen during our exploration session earlier. This was located right on the beach and it was possible to sit outside, listen to the lapping of the waves on shore and have your feet in the sand. And all this by the light of 100 candles! Or so it seemed. Every table had some kind of candle holder on it and there were big pieces of driftwood scattered around throughout. Each one of these pieces had candles burning from any nook or cranny that would hold one. In fact, one guy had the sole job of candle replacement. That is all he did and it kept him quite busy, there were so many of them burning. They also had a small bonfire going off to one side. You could sit or stand around that if you wanted also. I can’t imagine it on a hot night, but still it was a nice option.
Mr. Candle Replacer would occasionally take a load of used candles over to it and dump them onto the fire. There they would sizzle and burn with all kinds of color. It was really great.
The time finally came when we had to bid goodbye to our first night out (and to the ever present reggae music!) and head back to our room. Tomorrow was going to a busy day