This article in its original form, appeared last June on the newsletter website WeLoveCostaRica.Com. I have been reading Scott Oliver’s newsletters for well over two years. Not only are they entertaining, but they offer a world of firsthand information as diverse as Costa Rica’s landscape and rich natural attributes.
Planning for this trip got serious last Spring. So, where did I start? I e:mailed Scott first, of course. He sent contact info for Daveed Hollander’s Coldwell Banker real estate office in Dominical, and the chain of kindness and discovery began to grow immediately.
After several e:mails, and a false start caused by medical
considerations, a date was set, reservations made, and the countdown for departure began. To tell you the truth, it was more exciting than waiting for Santa Claus!
Hensey Godinez, of Hollander’s office suggested we stay at the Hotel Domilocos in Dominical. And that was just the beginning of a number of really great surprises to come.
The real purpose of this trip was to get familiar with
Costa Rica's southwest coastal area and determine whether I could afford to live there and have basic services available that would be necessary to accommodate my medical and day to day living requirements.
I had already determined that I would come back and live for two to three months before committing to a perma-nent move and the expense of importing my Toyota truck, personal belongings and fishing gear. You would think that for a guy with a small dog this would be a simple process. Think again!
The trip from Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) had its share of challenges. You start West on the Pan American Hiway #1, and then take the Antenas exit to a small secondary road that crosses over Hiway #1 and leads (if you follow the Tico directions correctly) to a soccer field where you must turn left. Down the hill and on for a few kilometers you will see a large overpass ahead. The Tico description was “tunnel”. Trust me, it’s the new highway overpass.
There are times in Costa Rica when you take things literally, and there are times when you must think outside your English speaking box! Just before going under the overpass you must turn left and go uphill before making a hard right to the entry road to westbound Hiway #27. Once again, your mind tells you this is the highway entry
ramp – then you realize that it is a two way street when several cars are headed downhill towards you!
On the newly completed highway the scenery is stunning. Road signs abound and the roadmap actually agrees with the physical byway and way stops! You must be careful, at 80 kph (approx. 60mph), the road not only climbs
then descends, but it winds back and forth dramatically. The beauty of the mountains is very distracting!
When we started south, leaving Hiway #27 for Hiway#34, the road also began to level out. Being tourists we stopped at the entrance to the Turcoles River bridge. At least a dozen cars and Tourisimo vans were also there and people were milling about at the soda/cerveza and vegetable market. The attraction is the crocodiles.
When Donna got out of the car she made a quiet yelp of concern. A local iguana boldly approached and stopped just a few feet away. In a few seconds it was obvious to the iguana that she had nothing to offer so he retreated as she attempted to capture him on film. Interesting, that a cold blooded creature with a pea sized brain could learn to “beg”.
Back to the crocs. First, you must negotiate the narrow walkway out to the middle of the bridge as traffic that feels like it is going a 100 mph rips by a few feet away! Being several hundred feet above the dried up river bed
it’s amazing how big and how easily they are to photograph. Also of note, if something is important and people congregate, such as this natural attraction or
a major bus stop, police are always present.
We opted to bypass Jaco, then Quepos. On our return trip we were glad that we had. Both beach towns are cluttered and not attractive. As you turn into town, Jaco actually has people standing in the road, hawking time shares!
Four hours out from San Jose we arrived at Dominical. We would later be told that locals make the trip in just over two hours. Having gone and come back now, I know that I must be getting older!
As we turned off the highway pavement onto the third world, river rock, main street, we rattled and bumped along at 2 kph, past all manner of small business. First, real estate offices, then a yoga massage/dance studio. Fruterias, restaurants, a surf school, the Catholic church and school, a motel with a Volkswagon bus mounted on a pole fifteen feet in the air! Elvis has left the building and is riding in the back of the van!
Next is the police station and across the street a small
mercado. Further along is Coco’s, an open air restaurant. Then the beach and palms are on the right and the turn for Domilocos Hotel is just 200 meters on the left. If in doubt -- ask someone.
When I e:mailed Michiel, the owner of Domilocos, to confirm our arrival dates I asked him if he wanted my credit card information. He replied, “No, just show up. We’ll get to that later.”
I was impacted by the friendly lack of concern immediately and when we met I was pleasantly reminded that we had in fact arrived on the threshold of “paradise”. The tall, smiling Dutchman had a smile on his face as
we walked through the door. I never saw him without one the entire time we were his guests.
The hotel is 75 meters from the beach. It is a lovely, colonial style, two story of about 23 rooms. The real bonus feature is the Con-Fusion restaurant that overlooks the courtyard. The food is magnificent, yet simple and
unusual. It is so good it’s difficult to summarize. This is “fusion” in its truest sense. The food was definitely worth the price of staying with Michiel and his beautiful wife Vivian.
Our room, that overlooked the courtyard below, had two king sized beds. The fully tiled bath had a tricky shower. Don’t turn on the cold water first because the hot water will not come on at all. I had forgotten how long it had been since I’d taken a cold shower! We figured it out. Cold patience is a virtue.
Michiel is completely immersed in his Costa Rican home. You could not guess that he’s Dutch. His Espanol is flawless. For a tour of Domilocos, a look at the Con-fusion menu, and great pictures of the surroundings, visit http://www.domilocos.com/ . We stayed here twice for $65. per night. First class for economy pricing.
Once you’re there, eat lunch at Tortilla Flats on the beach which has the best and biggest chicken wings I’ve ever had (including my own) and an excellent take on the local ceviche – made with fresh dolphin. In addition, Coco’s down the road, has fresh, fresh salad, pizza and a full menu of beach side entries. Plus, cold cervaza!
The second day in Dominical we got down to business. Daveed Hollander of Coldwell Banker Real estate took time from his busy schedule to visit with us and talk about living in country. His office on Hiway #34, is about two kilometers south of the entrance road to Playa Dominical, on the right. Daveed’s company is primarily a Buyer’s agency and they are the master franchisee for Coldwell Banker. Very professional and they know the area. Get telephone numbers and see some gorgeous listings at http://www.dominicalrealty.com. You could not go wrong by investing in David’s friendship. I didn’t and it took me to Hotel Domilocos, which in turn sent me south, to more fantastic hospitality.
Before our meeting with Daveed, we met a delightful young lady named Cindy Moya with Land Assurance Real Estate. When you turn off #34 entering Dominical, you go down the hill and at the bottom in front of you is Cindy’s
office. She’s the company rental agent. It took her less than 20 minutes to research, tell us about two different properties, set up appointments, and then we were out the door to visit them.
She showed us two delightful ‘‘batchelor” sized cabinas with rental rates from $385 to $450 per month, utilities included except internet. By the way, wi-fi internet service is lightning fast and available every where. I
decided I could live and get around easily to the Super Mercado, the bank, and “downtown” Dominical from the 1 bedroom cabina across the road from the Baru
River. Get Telephone numbers including toll free at http://www.landassurance.com .
Don’t miss part two on our trip south to the Sierpe River, where
I felt like I had gone home to family!