The old saying, “Expectations are resentments waiting to happen,” is perhaps the best way to describe my recent trip to the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. For years I’d heard tales of the beautiful beaches around Montezuma and Mal Pais, so when I won a nine-day tour of Costa Rica, I decided to go a week early and soak up some rays in Santa Teresa, a small town on the southern tip of the peninsula. The beaches were nothing like what I expected. Rather than pure, powdery white sand I found drab brown granular sand interspersed with outcroppings of sharp volcanic rocks. Surfers will appreciate the clean, reliable waves, but since I stopped surfing long ago, the best part of the beaches for me were the spectacular sunsets.
The sleepy towns that stretch along the single sand road leading to the mainland were equally disappointing. Not only were prices for food and accommodations almost as expensive as the U.S., every restaurant and shop I visited was owned by Argentinians who had immigrated to Costa Rica. Little of local Tico culture is apparent in this part of the country.
Even given the above, I would have enjoyed my stay more if I’d had a pleasant place to stay. At first blush, Funky Monkey Lodge looked like a nice place, but as the week wore on I saw behind the facade and it wasn’t a pretty picture. Rules, rules and more rules were posted everywhere. Just one example, check out the rules posted on a sign at the pool:
Shower before entering I can understand. Maybe even no food. But no sand? The whole place is sand. And no lotion ? I guess I was just supposed to suffer second degree burns in the intense Costa Rican sun.
The sign at the pool was the least of it. When I checked in, I was taken on a brief orientation tour and advised that they were experiencing a severe water shortage. A sign in the shower instructed us to turn on water for 30 seconds to get wet, soap up, then turn on water for 30 seconds to rinse off. Since the water in the shower was little more than a dribble, what they suggested was quite impossible. Yet the owners freely watered plants around the property with the well water and one day even let water at an outside shower next to the restaurant run continuously as they washed one of their dogs. Continue reading