Wednesday, March 12, 2014
When we started planning our trip to Costa Rica back in October we decided we wanted a house. There were seven of us and we made a list. We wanted a house large enough to sleep all of us comfortably. We needed a pool. And, we wanted to be on the beach. After looking at (I am pretty sure) a 100 or more villas, two of the group sent around several villas that met our requirements. We weeded out the ones that looked run down, were too small, were too expensive, etc. And, then we found our dream house.
This home had seven bedrooms overlooking the ocean. The pool was to die for. There was an elevator from the main house down to the pool level. It was in pristine condition. Best of all it came with a chef. It was in our price range and it was available when we wanted to go. Done and done.
A week or so later, I got an email from one of my fellow travelers saying the "reasonable" price we were looking at for our dream house was the off season rate. We would be in Costa Rica during "The Season". The rate we were now looking at was about twice what we first thought it would be. That was not even worth discussing. Back to the drawing board.
As it turned out by this time we could not find a suitable house on the beach so we located this incredible house that looked like something from Architectural Digest that was in the jungle but "only minutes" from the beach. The pictures made the house look stunning. And all the write-ups talked about the house opening up to the jungle and how you would see monkeys, birds, and other exotic animals just off the balcony. Well, my attitude was "while in Rome . . .". After all one reason for visiting Costa Rica was to see the animals. And, we had rented a car, so going to the beach would not be an issue.
The house had a maid who came daily to clean and wash your clothes if you needed them washed, and a yard man. I suggested, as a consolation prize, we hire a chef. We found out that was not an expensive proposition. So we added a chef to our list of features.
When we arrived, the house did not disappoint us. It was beautiful, everything the pictures online showed Every room opened to the jungle. And when I say opened, I mean in most cases the walls folded out to an open balcony into the lush flora that surrounded the house. There were no screens (and no bugs). The infinity pool actually came into the corner of the den.
From the first day, we could hear birds and monkeys and other unidentified beasts chirping, chattering and squawking constantly. We could see trees sway and limbs rustle. We saw birds and black squirrels. But no monkeys or sloths. Finally on Tuesday morning, a Toucan arrived. One would have thought it was the second coming the way we were acting. (In the mean time we were seeing all sorts of wild life on our daily adventures away from the villa.)
The next morning I came upstairs around 6:30 to find a Coca Cola Light and learned that I had just missed a large group of small monkeys that had entertained my friends for a while and a howler monkey who had also made an appearance. After some discussion, we decided that the animals must come out in the mornings around 5 am.
So starting the next morning I would get up at 4:45 and be on the balcony ready (with my camera) to view the wildlife. But it was not to be. Eventually throughout the days we saw sloths and colorful birds and continued to hear the monkeys but they stayed out of site at the villa.
Meanwhile, we located our dream house and decided to visit it just to see if the house really was as nice as we thought. We drove down a steep winding cobblestone lane toward the beach. After some guessing, we finally located it. Well, all we could see was the roof due to the slope of the hillside. We got out and walked around.
Finally one of our crew noticed the door was open and went in "just to" explain that if the current tenants saw folks walking around, we were harmless and just considering the house for next year. The ladies were having breakfast and immediately invited us all in.
The house was even better than we thought. The view of the Pacific ocean and the beach far below was almost unreal. The entire living area we were standing in was open with no windows and only a 4 foot wall surrounding the room. The chef came out of the kitchen and introduced himself.
One of the ladies commented, "You notice the kitchen is closed off with french doors." We had not. "That is to keep the monkeys out." She went on to tell us that there is wild life around daily - lovely birds, monkeys, etc. In fact, she showed us the pool and pool house located on the level far below the living quarters. "One morning we were down at the pool and looked up and there were monkeys sitting on the edge of the den eating the bananas we had left on the table and throwing the peels at us down at the pool."
Needless to say, it did not take us long to decide that we could save our pennies to rent that house or take a chance with the rains and visit out of season.
Naturally Sunday morning at "our" house, as we waited for our driver to pick us up at 6 am for our trip to the airport, the monkeys came out to play. We watched for a while as they swung from tree to tree chasing each other. The night before we had been entertained by a sloth who decided he needed to change trees just off our balcony, which takes a while in sloth time.
The house was really nice with several water features in it which were attractive until you stepped in one by mistake. But, as for the monkeys, I guess they just have a sense of humor. We knew they were there all along.
The Dining Room:
With the walls closed: