In my last posting, I shared about our continued saga of car troubles. But in the midst of all the challenges, we were able to stay at a few places overnight that helped us temporarily forget about what we would have to inevitably deal with in the near future.
We had never been to Puerto Armueles, located at the beginning of a small peninsula on the Pacific, 5 miles from the Costa Rica. A once thriving community, the town was literally built by Chiquita Banana which has since sold out to a local cooperative; thus decreasing the population by more than half of what it once was. There have been rumors of Del Monte coming to start producing the old banana plantations along with building of ports for cruise ships, but nothing has happened yet. Puerto Armuelles does have some oil-related employment with a pipeline that starts about 6 miles from the town over the mountains to the Caribbean side.
Mikkel & I had a Facebook contact who lived there and thought perhaps it might be a location to expand the business. So after leaving our car with the mechanic outside of David and renting another car, we headed toward the border. Just before the border exit to Costa Rica, we turned left and drove through the Frontera, the “Free Zone” as many have called it. From there we continued driving on a newly constructed road toward our destination; for a little while the road followed alongside another road on the Costa Rica side divided only by a 6-10 foot piece of land lined with trees. There was nothing to stop anyone from walking across or even driving back and forth between the two countries. The official border exit is for legal purposes: passport validation & stamping for exiting and entering each country, customs, immigration, etc.
When we arrived at Puerto Armueles, we found it to be somewhat dirty, old, neglected, with no real new or modern construction taking place. But we continued on, venturing through the narrow streets until we arrived at Heavenly’s Hotel, a little heaven in the midst of it all. Located on the beach with a pool and restaurant, This was our paradise for the next night & morning. The room was comfortable & large; the food was decent; the pool was refreshing; the service was good; and the scenery was spectacular. The beach always helps me unwind.
The following morning our Facebook friends joined us for breakfast at the pool. We then checked out and followed them to their home in La Palma, a nicer area of Puerto Armueles where the Chiquita Banana executives lived. Most of these “plantation casa” style homes have been remodeled, situated on large park-like properties, unlike the row houses for the previous Chiquita plantation & factory employees in town.
The next night we stayed at Residence Las Lajas. We had been to Las Lajas Beach Resort a few times before, but this time we decided to stay in the casitas behind the Italian Restaurant near the town where we had previously enjoyed some wonderful dinners. We had no idea there was such a beautiful oasis hidden behind. Again another evening to unwind after the car overheating once more.
After returning the car to the mechanic the next day, we decided to postpone our plans to go to Santa Catalina for another trip and stay the night at the Gran Nacional Hotel in David. I had earned a free night with Hotels.com, so I took advantage of it. The lovely restored colonial style hotel in the heart of the city includes restaurants, a pool, a movie theater, and casino, although we did not partake of the latter two. Just did a little walking around, swam in the pool and relaxed. Ate a good complementary breakfast in the dining room the next morning and observed several photos of Hollywood celebrities who have stayed there in the past 30-40+ years. Had no idea David, Panama was a popular tourist spot for Hollywood.
Well, our car are still in the shop. Hopefully the Ford Explorer will be fixed by the end of the week; the Honda may not be fixed for another couple (still waiting on parts). But at least we were blessed with a little R&R while traveling this last time. All part of the adventure in our third life.