Properties in Costa Rica Blog

Monthly Archives: September 2017

The Centipede Traveling on the Bus From Santa Cruz to Playa Negra

The Centipede Traveling on the Bus From Santa Cruz to Playa Negra

September 23, 2017

Properties in Costa Rica

Each morning at 5:30 a.m. Pedro, the bus driver from Playa Negra, starts his engine after checking the oil. Then he begins his long journey navigating the “huecas” (Way-KOS),or the ruts, in the unpaved road between Playa Negra and Santa Cruz. He makes the pass though Playa Negra again at 1 p.m. and departs from Santa Cruz st 6 p.m. to arrive in Playa Negra after dark between 7:30 and 8 p.m.

There are approximately 31 km or 25 miles between the two cities in Guanacaste, Province, in northern Costa Rica. It is a largely rural area with beautiful white sandy beaches at Playa Negra, Avellenas and Hacienda Pinella with waves which are popular with yogis and surfers internationally. The affiliation between yogis and surfers may not be evident at first glance, but a wipe out on the waves can cause spinal issues that yoga helps adjust where Guanacaste is a destination for both surfers and yoga practitioners.

The drive to Santa Cruz from the renown beaches for surf and yoga at Avellenas and Playa Negra takes one through rivers and jungles to grassy valleys. There, the beautiful Guanacaste trees grow in the fields and Hibiscus line the lanes where cattle, horses and goats graze. Horses often and wander unbridled like a scene from the Swedish Pippi Longstocking.. It is not uncommon for the bus to stop to allow a pig, horse or chicken to cross the road or beach there is a pig known as “Lola” who is namesake for the famous beach bar in Playa Avellenas and daily strolls the beach..


“Paranando” is one of the first words you will learn traveling the bus from Santa Cruz to Playa Negra. It means “stop” and there are many strings pulled on the trip between the cities -Playa Negra, Avellenas, Pinella, 27 de Avril, and Santa Cruz. The bus costs c1250 or $2.50 each way and is the most economical form of transportation as many Costa Ricans do not own vehicles. Motorcycles abound along with daily bread and vegetable deliveries and farmers markets Saturday’s in Tamarindo.

People get on and off along the route between the towns and villages and the bus is wheelchair-equipped with a lift located in the middle.

On a recent trip to Santa Cruz from Playa Negra, I met an English teacher offering lessons to Marriott employees in Hacienda Pinella, and a landscape worker who boarded the bus and sat down beside me with his machete sheathed in newspaper and his backpack. He got no argument from the driver, or anyone else on the bus, including me!.

My search for lye for making goat milk soap st Peace Retreat ( led me on a bus trip from Playa Negra to Rancho Avellenas and Tamarindo to make a deposit for the “leche de cabras”. A local restauranteur suggested I check the pharmacy in Tamarindo for lye.

The two senioritas at the Farmacia, in Tanarindo referred me to a veterinarian who magically appeared as I boarded the bus from Tamarindo to Playa Negra. I learned she was from Santa Cruz and sold the lye. Karina Is a 26 year old woman and Graduate of Escuela de Saint Francis of Assisi in San Jose. She promised the “pastilles” I needed to make soap or “jabon” if I stayed over in Santa Cruz. A brief tour with her upon arrival in Santa Cruz led me a few blocks from the terminal to her office and the hotel Calle Acala.

A Stay in Santa Cruz at the Calle Acala

If one is in Santa Cruz for an evening, Calle Acala is close to the bus terminal although it is more expensive at $57 a night than its competition down the street.

A nights stay is worth it just to walk through the corridors as the doors are carved works of art that illustrate Costa Rican history. The beds and baths are comfortable and the rate includes breakfast beside the pool with a bar in it.

The hotel is down the street and over a block from the bus terminal and College of Law. There are shops that line the street next to the bus terminal and across the street from the bus terminal is the post office, the Correro, and Super Compro grocery store.

Mail in Costa Rica

Mail in Costa Rica from Guanacaste is slow and may take 22 days to arrive in the United States while $32 gets you an envelope certified with tracking to the US.

In Tamarindo, there is UPS next to ReNax Real Estate if you need to ship packages, it is an alternative to the Correro, or Postal Service. Mr. Tom’s in Tamarindo functions as the local Fed Ex Office with copies and printing near Arenas Surf Shop in a strip mall between the Bank of San Jose and Nordica Café. There is another Post office in Villarreal between Tamarindo and Pinilla, but no Post office in Tamarindo which is a a more popular destination for tourists. In Tamarindo you will find shops filled with Quicksilver, Hurley and surf boards and shops that cater to tourists. The Driha Hotel and Casino keeps those well-heeled in Tamarindo occupied in style. Yogi’s will find Mermaids and Sailors a yoga studio for Guanacaste practitioners opposite Surf Central on the second floor of an office building down the hill from the taxi station and ATMs. Marbella’s hotel near Aqua offers reasonable overnight rates $40-$50.

Rental Cars

The role of the bus driver in Guanacaste is important because the cost of rental vehicles usually requires a $1000 deposit for a week rental which is justified by the “huecas”that challenge drivers and car axles. The bus driver’s role requires patience as he daily navigates ruts in the road and even must forge rivers often at a centipede’s pace. The ride could be one at an amusement park attraction with the drama, terrain and characters who occupy the seats on the bus. Climbing hills that are unpaved in the “Green Season” with heavy rains and high humidity requires slow and steady pressure on the accelerator and the downshift of gears on the curvy grades and descents through the Costa Rican countryside to the jungles that lead to the beaches in Pinella, Avellenas and Playa Negra.

The ride on the Centipede is memorable, but requires flexibility, patience and balance if you are standing – qualities surfers and yogis possess. The rewards of a ride on the Centipede include the scenic views during the day though towns with green soccer fields, roadside restaurants and the people you meet along the way. The best of these is Dennis the Driver from Playa Negra who can help you save a bundle and make your connections!
Spend a day riding the bus and you will find yourself in great company!

For those arriving in Santa Cruz from San Jose by the El Faro bus lines, the terminal in Santa Cruz is convenient and clean and connects to Playa Negra with early morning departures and a 11 am and 6 pm departure daily. Tickets sell out, so it is important to buy a ticket an hour before departure and get in line as it queues up a half hour before departure. The Tralapa terminal for buses arriving from San Jose stops at a terminal across town as you first enter Santa Cruz, so you will need a taxi to the other side of the small town to pick up Route 571 local to Playa Negra from Santa Cruz. It is an hour and a half ride of pleasure.

Perhaps the best reason to ride the Centipede or Ruta 571 is that it saves $30 each way which is the cost of a taxi from Tamarindo and Santa Cruz to Playa Negra. In the high season a Surf Shuttle runs from Tamarindo to Playa Negra for $6 from the center of Tamarindo near Arenas Surf Shop where taxis and ATM services are available.

For more information check online for bus schedules.

Independence Day

Independence Day

September 15, 2017

Properties in Costa Rica

Celebrations are already underway in Costa Rica for its Independence Day. While the 15th is marked as the annual day of celebration, the patriotic party begins on September 14th, when the “Independence Torch” arrives in Cartago.

The torch is a national symbol in Costa Rica and was carried from Guatemala to Costa Rica when the Central American countries gained their independence from Spain in 1821. Since then, this historical event has been reenacted with a torch being passed through the five countries of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and finally, Costa Rica.

One of the most beloved celebration is the “desfile de faroles” or the traditional lantern parade. Children make “faroles” or hand-made lanterns and parade through the streets on the evening of September 14th when at 6 p.m. the Costa Rican national anthem is broadcast nationally. On the 15th, the celebrations continue with parades filled with people in traditional dress and performing traditional dances. Every Costa Rican enjoys the festivities with patriotic displays on the streets throughout the day.

Independence day is also a time to reflect on heritage and find patriotism in our history—about national identity. Costa Ricans are commemorating not just their freedom, but everything that Costa Rica Stands for. They know that on this day, their army is their children dressed up in school uniforms. Students march March in front of the government offices, including the President, shouting their joy and wearing the three main colors of the Costa Rica national flag: Red, White, and Blue. The mottos shouted is “vivan siempre el trabajo y la paz” or “may work and peace live forever.”

A Great Small Town Feel in Paradise

A Great Small Town Feel in Paradise

September 14, 2017

Properties in Costa Rica

The areas of Playa Flamingo , Potrero, Brasilito, and other nearby communities are a great example of small beach towns with a wonderful community feel. Located in the northwest Pacific corner of Costa Rica, these areas have a uniqueness that you feel as soon as you get here.

Grocery shopping usually consists of the going to the smaller “Supers”. Super Massai in Flamingo, Super Wendy in Potrero, or Super Conchal in Brasilito. These family run stores carry almost everything you need to stock your pantries. For fresh veggies, fish, and bread, there are two Ferias (farmer’s markets) each week. One near Flamingo, the other in Potrero. Not only can you get your favorite fresh foods, it’s a great opportunity to see the familiar faces and friends from the area and do a little socializing. Of course, there’s also “the fish guy” in Brasilito where you can get fresh fish like Dorado, Red Snapper, or Tuna every day of the week. And “the veggie guy”, who sets up shop most days of the week between Flamingo and Potrero, and always has a wonderful selection of fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you don’t feel like making your own dinner, there are numerous great and unique restaurants serving everything from the traditional and inexpensive Casado, a Costa Rican meal using rice, black beans, plantains, salad, and tortilla, which may include chicken, beef, pork, or fish, to a few “upscale” restaurants offering steak, lobster, fresh pastas and more. Try Sol y Mar in Potrero by the soccer fields for great local food. El Castillo in Surfside (between Potrero and Flamingo) for those delicious back home meals like ribs, country fried steak, and hamburgers. Or Angelina’s in Flamingo for a romantic night out where you can enjoy filet mignon, fresh seafood specials, and your favorite cocktail. And whichever you choose, you’re bound to see a friend or neighbor while you are out.

Of course, after enjoying your homemade meal or an outing at one of the restaurants, you may want a little exercise. This area has several beautiful beaches that are great for taking long walks or a jog. If you go in the late afternoon you’re likely to see one of the beautiful Pacific sunsets this area is known for. And don’t be surprised if you’re sharing the walk with one of the local cows, as they seem to enjoy wandering the beach as well. For something a little more extreme, there is over 30 km of world-class coastal single-track mountain bike and hiking trails with scenic ocean views that will astound you. Located just north of Potrero, these trails have been developed since 2010 and continue to grow every year. Bring your own bike or rent one at the nearby bike shop.

These are just a few of things that make this area feel warm, welcome and convey a great sense of community. Always seeing friends, or making new friends while out and about is wonderful. We hope to see you soon at Properties in Costa Rica. Pura Vida!

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