Puerto Jimenez

Girls standing in front of accommodation in Puerto Jimenez Puerto Jimenez is an interesting little place.  We arrived around 4pm and were immediately pounced upon by locals trying to lure us to their accommodation, treks, tours, lodges. We managed to send one packing when we realised that his accommodation was way out of town but took up the offer of another who had hung back initially.  If we hadn’t been so travel weary we might have had greater presence of mind to ignore his offers too and head into town to explore further.  However, there were thirteen of us with large packs and we were hot and tired and the only place to sit and wait while a team went off to scope the place out was the side of the road.  Javier, the in-country agent had suggested that there were some hostels just round the corner from the bus station and that seemed to be where the old guy was taking us so we succumbed.  A hostel was found that would accommodate all 13 of us together for a price that fitted our budget.  The Hospedaje Fanny Lu was basic.  That’s it.  Basic but clean. And there was wifi.
Street in Puerto Jimenez, shops selling gifts and soyuvenirs and a dvd rental placeOur very first impressions were that PJ is a launching pad for adventurers in search of wildlife and a taste of the jungle; there seemed to be little there but guest houses and Jungle tour offices. But as we walked out to eat we saw that there was more and as we explored this morning the bustling little town grew on me.  It reminds me a bit of small settlements along Golden Bay or up in the Coromandel where the young and hip made their home 30 years ago looking for an escape from city living and never left. Squeezed in amongst the everyday shops that provide the necessities for living and the offices advertising the best, the most adventurous, the chance to see the most wildlife jungle tours are shops selling arts and crafts,  jewellery and hair braiding, all locally made and run by aforesaid ageing hippies.
Costa Rican number plateThere are also heaps of places to eat all sorts of food.  Of course, the staple is Gallo Pinto and always the cheapest and most filling option.  But the restaurants that line the waterfront offer fresh fish which I for one could not resist, as well as nachos, quesadillas, spaghetti and real Italian pizzas. The port of Puerto Jimenez used to be a busy one before the road took the place of the ship as a means of getting produce across the gulf.  Boats still head over to Golfito where the nearest hospital is but it is more of a leisure marina now with yachts berthed in the harbour.  Families bathe in the shallow, warm water, flying fish are flashes of silver as they skim the surface and small seabirds dive and swoop to catch the flying fish as they jump.  On the day after our trek we cooled off in the water before eating in one of the seaside restaurants, treating ourselves as a reward for our efforts.
Sunset at the beach with palm trees on the left hand side of the imagePJ is also the stomping ground of the goldminers who pan for gold in the rivers in the Osa Peninsula.  Not in the Corcovado National Park as that is forbidden but very close to the edge of it!  They come into town every month to sell their gleanings and swap it for a different sort of gold!  The numerous bars are a testament to their presence.
Pizza restaurant in Puerto Jimenez

Viernes por la tarde. ..

Once I had had a welcome hot shower and Kate gave my feet a massage, we went out for a wander.  It was a beautiful afternoon and we made our way via several shoe shops to La Puerta del Sol where we were entertained by the many street “statues”and cartoon characters who tout for the odd coin thrown in appreciation (or exasperation) by generous tourists!
We continued on to the Plaza Mayor where we found a sunny spot in a cafe and then spent a pleasant couple of hours in the sunshine drinking wine and tasting a variety of tapas.
La Plaza Mayor is beautiful; as you walk through one of the small archways that give you access from the surrounding streets you are faced wth a huge square surrounded by high ochre coloured apartments – tiered levels with ironwork balconies that look down onto the central with a statue in the middle.  It is a delightful though busy and noisy place to sit by mid to late afternoon and probably gets even busier as the madrilenos and the tourists hit the restaurants by ten o’clock!   It is ironic that the first public event to be held there was a beatification of Saint Isidror, Madrid’s patron saint, and then it was used later by the Spanish inquisition for executions of heretics.
There are people everywhere; children running around with balloon creations made by the many street vendors, young and old couples in their own worlds, tourists of all ages; families, singletons, school groups, young and old, travellers of all nationalities, colour and creeds, exploring the world, wandering, laughing, joking, pondering the world around them, people-watching, drinking, eating, celebrating, chatting,….  The cafes and restaurants are hidden under the arches but their sunshades and tables line the square and you can always find a sunny place to sit.  There was the noise of laughter and chatter all around as well as the incessant and infuriating squeaking of one of the street vendors to whom we were tempted to toss a few coins just to send him to the opposite end of the square.  But he is part of the scenery and atmosphere of the place so we decided to put up with him! 
As the sun went down we headed back to the hotel. It has been a long day and I am ready for bed!