Day 5 - Jaco and Parque Nacional de Manuel Antonio
The next morning after cafe leche, we said good bye to Carl and Hellena and settled up with Rafa. He told us to come back when we could stay longer, and he hugged us both.
We took the alternative route down the mountain, and found it to be slightly less horrible. The rain clouds had broken up and we could see out to the Pacific across the Peninsula de Nicoya.
The Carretera Americano had just been paved between the Monte Verde road and where we turned at Puntares, so we could drive at 100kph -- a total change from the 25kph we were forced into on the dirt roads.
After getting lost and almost driving into a raging river, he managed to find Jaco. We had built it up as a beach-side mecca for world-class surfers based on all we had heard about it. Instead, we found a filthy beach, high prices, and a countryside rut up with new condominium developments. It reminded me of the college housing near UCSB - not exactly what had been searching for. We had lunch and decided to continue down the coast to Manuel Antonio.
We wanted to get an early start the next morning in the national park, so we took a room at Cabinas Manuel Antonio, which is right at the entrance to the park. It's very cheap and right on the beach, but the rooms are dark and grim cement boxes. We consoled ourselves with a half dozen Imperials each at a beach-side soda and slept soundly through the night to the sound of crashing surf.