Manuel Antonio Costa Rica, an Introduction.

Travel Day
After watching the boys set sail from San Francisco, and all the associated feelings that went along with that – (See Nick’s blog entry to name a few – ) I was not at all sure I would see them again before they returned. Some time in February the planning became real and the decision to go was being tossed about. Where to meet them, how to coordinate the meeting and just how was this all going to happen?

It happens…

Tom Mary Lisa and I left Chicago after an O’Dark thirty wake up. I think my day started about 3:30am. We were in the plane to Houston and then San Jose Costa Rica before we knew it. Three or four beers ( maybe more) later, including one plane change and a customs check, and we were walking out into 85 degree air where we find 50 cab drivers all looking for that one passenger…Taxi Taxi Taxi!?

That’s when we see the sign that says “Chicago Lisa!” actually it said Lisa Kleeman and a warm welcoming smile accompanied it. A quick walk across the roadway with our gear away from the fray on the curb front and our greeter has already called Orlando to the terminal.

A freshly washed Silver Toyota Van with room for 8 pulls around the corner and we are ushered into the cool window tinted interior and whisked away from the airport. Orlando laughs when I give him my card and Lisa asks if we are allowed to eat and drink in the van.

“Yes” was the answer and “Not really”, was the response to “Can we stop and get some libations of our choice?” Apparently Orlando has done this before – but he has no idea who is in his van. About 25 minutes into the ride we slow down and smartly pull into a place where certain cold beverages can be had. Water for our driver, a few cold beers and a bottle of Patron return to the van with assorted snicky snacks.

I am not certain when the adventure started or if it has yet,  as he shifts – I reach up with a handful of nuts – he turns his hand over and I pour them in, Orlando responds to my offer of Starbucks Cashews with a glee filled laugh / cry!  No need to reach Orlando – I have you covered. Once the nuts are gone I pass large potato chips his way. Mary has offered a sock to cover my Imperial Beer bottle – I am after all riding in the front seat… Orlando laughs. It is bright green with white stripes, I cover my beer and signal to the passengers when we are passing any regulator who may have some reason to not want the tourists to have a drink while underway… I get the impression this is unnecessary from Orlando – I also get the impression that I am showing a sign of respect when I do this. Often there is laughter erupting from the back and wonder being expressed as the road unfolds before us. I can see by the expression on his face Orlando enjoys this.

Shortly after I get in the van I have decided to pull a camera out of the bag. Not sure if this was good or bad. I think it was good, but I have played my hand rather early in our travels! Orlando knows that’s not a man purse, shoulder bag. I am certain the “extra” time it takes to get to Costa Verde is borne out of the obvious interest we are all showing in this Central American Paradise.

Our second stop is for a walk across the Tarcoles Bridge. This is a real treat, since the heat of the day is completely upon us. Seriously – we left a cold Chicago – this is good! (Chicago experienced extreme warmth while we were gone – 80’s every day – go figure) We walk across the bridge on a narrow strip of cement that might pass for a path, barely enough room to avoid the road and none for the mirrors on trucks – which is fine – they give the gringo’s a wide berth. Did I mention the railing is just waist high and occasionally missing? Orlando somehow drives past us – I don’t see him do this, I see the majestic waters and hills – then the crocodiles.

Oh! Now I know what we are doing walking across this bridge! Would you look at those? Note to self- NO RIVER SWIMMING IN COSTA RICA!!!

Happy to have seen the view and get back into the cool van – we are off. Our next stop will take us to a happy occassion – (Bathroom break) There is a sloth at the top of a tree near the pad where we have parked. Orlando is keeping watch on our activities and the van. I realize we are his responsibility to deliver safe and sound – he’s doing a great job. We are ever closer to the coast and the sun is getting low. We rise on a sweeping turn to take on the full beauty of the ocean and mist to our right.

A short time later we are piling out of the car – cameras and camera phones – SUNSET! Mary asks me to shoot thru the trees… which I do, Orlando sticks with the gang as I take a sunset shot with him and the family. We are bonding – he has probably had passengers treat him well, which I am sure of – we are just treating him like the boss and family – he’s liking it – it’s a love feast!

On to Jaco as the sun has set, the day has worn on us as well as the beer. Back in an urban landscape leaving the open rolling country roads (New and mostly having no stripes). As the heat of the day falls away the sides of the road become a gathering place for everyone to hang out. There appears to be a little heat island in Jaco and then we break out to the open circuitous roads on the route to Quepos. We are all a little blurry now and the road narrows and the hills become more frequent. The sun has set.

Arriving in Manuel Antonio we are driven right up to the Costa Verde front desk. Literally. The van stops outside the open doors of course, no screens on the windows and Francisco immediately starts taking a little attention from Lisa. He has “one Stem” on his glasses, he likes the candor and we are immediately treated to happy smiles all around.
Orlando drives us to the bungalow we will be staying in – from this point known as the tree house. And Francisco takes his motor bike up to meet us, how he got past us I will never know. We promptly set to unloading and give Orlando a great tip in the fare. We are all treated to handshakes and a hug with a pat on the back. Possibly we over compensated – but we were safe and sound – Orlando was happy and we reserved him for the return. Next – Dinner and a couple of beers then we fall into bed!

It is our very high hopes that we will meet the crew of Saltbreaker in the first days of our presence in this neck of the woods (literally the rainforest). We awaken from our slumber to get breakfast at the hotel and discover overnight a sailboat has anchored in the bay. “There she is!” Her colors and configuration readily confirmed by my family seated around me at breakfast.

It has been an adventure already. Now it’s on to the really good stuff. Find “The boys!”

In short order we are walking down the hill to the beach and Saltbreaker when we see what will become a familiar sight – Alex – shirt off – carrying a surfboard.

No sooner than we meet and hug and one of our hotel staff suggest we look at this tree down this path – a short walk (In Kleeman terms “A short walk” may mean 20 minutes or three hours with ladders and hills along the way) Lisa looks at me and we laugh, under breath comments and all. It’s a sloth – amazing is happening (and continues to do so every time I take a moment to look at my surroundings).

Alex walks us down to the beach and eventually Nique. The view is breathtaking, the waves smashing and the sun hot. Tom and the boys reunite… the stars are aligning… I can’t believe I am getting to watch these events unfold. Stunning. As the group says hello and begins conversation Nique appears as if out of nowhere.


You can see in this picture that he was running the beach and his approach hidden in our hellos! (Look over Mary’s hat to the right – that is Nique)

Lisa Mary Tom Nique and Alex play in the waves. It’s almost like we were on a family vacation in Central America playing at the beach.

Well of course we are! The waves are rather tumultuous and it’s only after a few days that Lisa admits to me she and Mary were tossed hard enough to want to get out of the surf.

The “Boys” are obviously quite at home in the surf, after all this is “Where they live” now. You can see the height of the surf about to break below.


I just cannot imaging swimming out to the boat after a day on the beach in the dark. This crew does it on a regular basis. I guess when the dingy is on the boat, you swim!

After this trip I realized I had complete confidence in our activities and no concern for my personal safety or the safety of our band of (literally) sisters and brothers. Its a huge vote of confidence for Saltbreaker and her crew. I harken back to the crossing from Angel Island to Pier 39. We were the folks that (after a day on Angel Island) might not mind a little rough water and excitement as we round the island and cross the bay and pass Alcatraz. They were right – it was interesting and exciting – but I was following their lead (and getting all wet at the bow shooting back at the boat).

Here with Saltbreaker in Costa Rica -Two Day sails and a few meals under way, I was completely in “the moment.” These guys know how to enjoy a day. I realize I suspended reality – completely (at least) four times during this trip. I took a dry bag and a towel, threw in two expensive cameras and associated lenses and closed it. Alex gave me another dry bag I placed my dry bag in. “I think it will float,” he says. “Ok,” I say, “And the rope goes over my shoulder so I can drag it to the boat as I swim out to her..?..” Hummnn, as I climb the ladder into the boat I notice the bag has not gotten any heavier – that’s a good sign.

Both evenings we arrive at anchor after sunset and I swim to shore with my special package. The water is black, at eye level the reflections of the sky in the water are stellar and I am just reveling in the scene… OMG the colors! I stop on the second night and one of the crew asks if I am ok, of course I am I am taking in the scene! Saltbreaker – mast light on… sky reflecting in the black water… surf crashing behind me… and that orange bag following my every move. All I am thinking is how I can keep the bag from tumbling in the surf as I get near shore. That water proof camera sure would come in handy right now!

As I leave the water from “Night swim two” Tom grabs me a beer at the little place on the beach – I open my bag and get a shirt out and put it on. Under the lights of the little beach establishment I pull out a camera to see if it is dry. It’s the 200mm. (Large)

A couple people near by stop talking and look at me… (Short stare) I smile and set the camera back in the bag.

Tom tells me “It’s been a hell of a day at sea Sir!” We clink our beers and collect the rest of the crew… Yes it has, It has been a very very fine day indeed!

Good Night Manuel Antonio

Thank you Saltbreaker!

Many more foto’s on the flickr site!

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One Response to Manuel Antonio Costa Rica, an Introduction.

  1. That hug picture just breaks my heart. They are so far away!

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