By Chris Foster 1/15/2020
We return after a bit of a hiatus now nestled in a slip located at Marina Pez Vela in Quepos, Costa Rica. Embajador has been here for about two months. Almost 4 months have passed since we left Chiapas, MX heading toward Costa Rica, having spent another month in Marina Papagayo where we enjoyed some of the best diving that we have yet experienced on our journey. Yachting in Central America is a whole new experience.
Alex, our fearless captain, has been diligently getting Embajador polished and ready for continued adventures southward to Panama and then thru the canal for two years of cruising in the Caribbean. As any boater knows, the list of things to be fixed is endless. This time it included air conditioning repairs, installing new injectors on the smaller of the two gensets and an inoperable stabilizer fin (amongst others). F@x#%g boats!
Matt joins Alex and I from his station in Uruguay as president of our sponsor, Black River Caviar. Ted will be back with us retooled with new hip and fresh from Charleston, SC where he has spent the last week or so on his boat which he brought down through the inland waterway.
Quepos is a sleepy town located oceanfront along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast with terrain varying from steep hillsides covered in deep green jungle and literally millions of swaying palm trees rolling down to farm lands located in lush valleys. January is at the tail end of Costa Rica’s rainy season – and does it ever rain down here. Still, it is warm and balmy even in the midst of it.
The day was sunny as the boat blissfully steamed northward for a quick check ride and a stop in Los Suenos where we will meet at the lawyer’s offices to ready our exit paperwork. BTW, if you think Mexicans love their paperwork, the Costa Ricans will let you know what real paperwork is!
To get to Quepos from San Diego we fly first to the Costa Rican capital city of San Jose and then jump on a small domestic airliner (ok, airplane) for the remaining 160 kilometer ride. (FYI, driving to or from San Jose seems to take forever. The 20 min flight is only $80 – $120 and well worth it.) The planes have to be at least fifty years old, if a day. Not an interior surface is without scratch or mark of some sort. Small lines of rust run from many of the screws and rivets on the exterior. Still, the trip is very pleasant if a bit bumpy, lasting less than 25 minutes before setting down on a gravel runway between palm covered hillsides in a perfect green valley. The waiting area has no doors and is open on one side. No TSA here.
Jumping ahead just a bit, one interesting tidbit about the flight back to San Jose; the cockpit was in plain view and I noted that the co-pilot was still learning to fly, taking instructions from the pilot in the left-hand seat…
Back At Sea
The seas were calm, and the water a clear blue that appears aqua when you look straight down into it. With outriggers deployed and jigs dancing in the wake, we awaited a hungry marlin or tuna strike. Meanwhile, dolphins played off of our bow wave forward. Soon, Alex alerts us that there is, “action up ahead”.
Within minutes we have our first two tuna aboard. They are small but welcome. The captain makes quick work of filleting them for a gourmet dinner later that evening. Less than 2 miles up the line the rod on the port corner lit up. We are all surprised and delighted when Matt reeled in a beautiful and good sized Sierra.
A Jungle Tour and A Windy Night
For me, there is almost nothing better than a ride up a mangrove river. After dropping anchor in a serene cove with yet another white sandy beach and a palm grove on Isla Tortuga in the Gulf of Nicoya, Alex led us on an expedition up into a mangrove that he had read about in the chart guide. We slowed as the river snaked its way up into the jungle to listen to the soft splashes of birds taking off and landing on the still water and the sound of breaking tree limbs as who knows what sorts of animals crawled around back in the groves. We hoped to spy a crocodile twisting its way through the brackish waters as we have on many other such adventures but alas, not this time.
Later that night our serene anchorage turned into a wind tunnel bringing splashing waves from what before had been behind us. Luckily our anchor held, not budging an inch from where we had set it.
The next day we headed back down the line to Los Suenos. Suenos is a famous resort renowned for its offshore fishing bite. The boats in the marina are absolute works of maintenance art. Every morning a giant legion of cleaners descend on the docks with shammis, brushes, polishers, etc. No water spot is left unaddressed.
A small shopping village sits at the top of the docks with luxury boutiques, restaurants, etc, along with offices housing a host of brokers, lawyers, financial advisors, banks and more.
Down the decoratively paved road, but still within the gates are several luxury condo, townhomes and housing developments, all with access to a golf course. A Marriott hotel and spa awaits those traveling through.
We departed after signing two sheets of paper (no doubt costing us $1500 apiece), and a leisurely breakfast at a shaded terrace restaurant.
Rock Star Fishing Tournament and Festivities
On arrival back at the docks in Quepos that evening the festivities were getting underway for the fishing tournament starting the next morning. While crews busily tied balleyhoo jigs, owners and their families strolled the docks listening to live music from up on the esplanade.
A Walk In The Park
There are several national parks in the Quepos area, the most famous being Manuel Antonio, about 10 kilometers down the road. We headed up there the day that I arrived but learned that the park is closed on Mondays. We settled for some beach time and drinks at one of the many restaurants nearby watching as monkeys tightroped the power lines over the street.
A few days later we decided to get a car and drive up to Los Campesinos Reserve for a self guided canopy tour and swim in the rainforest. It was well worth the drive which was nice in itself, meandering through farm lands, palm groves and small villages, much on dirt roads.
We were greeted by a friendly attendant housed in a small facility at the end of the road. The cost for admission to the trail was $20 each. The two or three mile hike consisted of some moderate climbing to suspension bridges high in the canopy from where we enjoyed great views of the rivers and forest below.
Toward the end of the trail we crossed a river with numerous waterfalls spilling over into clear pools. The swimming was ever so refreshing, really hitting the spot.
Back at The Marina
The marina was hopping when we returned. As it was to be Matt’s last night in town we decided to splurge on an excellent dinner at Gabriella’s, Pez Vela’s fine dining restaurant.
The Last Day – One More River Tour
We decided we needed one more river tour before my departure and lucky for us, there was a great one waiting for us right next to the breakwater at the marina.
As it turns out, the river running through downtown Quepos is one of the most interesting that we have visited since the Embajador Adventure began last year. The journey up river began as we traveled through Quepo’s old wharf area past fish packing houses, other businesses, moored fishing vessels and small homes lining the river. Soon thereafter we entered an area that reminded us of the Pirates of The Caribbean with numerous sunken boats, houses on small islands in the reeds, etc.
Further up the line the surroundings became still and the water reached far up into the trees.
Until Next Time
So, another adventure comes to a close as I head back to San Diego for a few weeks before returning for our run to Panama. Alex and Ted will stay with the boat, planning to head back to sea for a few days in search of the perfect cove and more adventure.
If you enjoyed our story, we hope that you will checkout some of our other adventures at www.EmbajadorAdventure.com. While you are at it, please “Like” and “Follow” us!
Sources For More Info On Yachting In Central America
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Awesome entry Chris! When can we expect a reunion?
Let’s get into the Caribbean!
Now, I have a better idea of your trip, yea!
Hey Chris, great to see that you are enjoying Costa Rica. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. We visited all the places you have written about in the five years we had our business in San Jose. What a great trip – keep up the reports.
Thanks Larry. Great to hear from you!