Sunday, December 03, 2006

Logbook: Jaco

Jaco1Saturday morning we took a cab from our little hotel at the south end of Jaco to a recommended restaurant “on the beach” at the north end of town. I quote “on the beach” because, frankly, nothing in Jaco is actually on the beach. Mostly there are walls that delineate the edge of “town” form the beach, and there are only a few places that don’t have walls. So, you can be “on the beach” in that you can see the beach and there is nothing between you and the beach, but it would be big stretch to say that you are really “on the beach.” After an adequate meal, we walked back the entire length of town, right down the main street. In a general sense, I can understand why tourists flock to Jaco. It is a tropical destination that offers everything from large resorts to tiny “surfer camping places.” It has a zillion bars with all manner of themes, and as many restaurants that range from obscenely priced faux haute cuisine to local joints serving typical Costa Rican rice and bean dishes. It is a hub for all kinds of tourist activity including sport fishing, surfing, kayaking, scuba diving, jungle canopy rides, hanging bridges and prostitution. What more could the “vacation week” or “spring break” tourist want? In my mind, I can picture Jaco ten years ago as a place where the adventurous, perhaps stoner vacationer would go to “get away from it all” and get lost in Jaco’s lush, tropical beach environs. Now, however, it is over developed, over hyped and just plain over done. I didn’t care for Jaco, I wouldn’t come back here and I cannot recommend it to others. Nevertheless, we had two full days in Jaco and tried to make the most of it.

On Saturday afternoon we arranged to do “the best canopy tour in Costa Rica” in the nearby national park. At the appointed time, a van picked us up and drove us a few kilometers to the park where we were nicely greeted and shown a very slick video that explained the history of the famous aerial tram and all the fabulous wildlife we would see on our ride. As we prepared to board the 8 passenger tram, we saw carload after carload of elderly, infirm and “mobility challenged” people unloading. Obviously, a very large group from a cruise ship had been transported from who knows where for a shore excursion. Somehow, this was not a good sign, and what I saw looking up mountainside at the route of the tram wasn’t much better. A path had been cleared through the jungle which the aerial tram traverses from tower to tower at a moderate pace. During the entire trip we saw only a few animals, none very interesting and all at a distance. Our “guide” did her best to make it interesting, but it was all pretty lame. I was an absolute tourist trap and, at $55 per person, it was a complete rip off. Anyway, Saturday night we went to a decent “bistro” for dinner and called it a day.

Yesterday morning we walked along the beach into town for breakfast and walked back the same way. We spent the rest of the afternoon taking advantage of the beautiful weather to relax in and around the pool at our hotel, then capped off the day with another nice stroll along the beach and one more trip into town for dinner. This morning, we are packed up and ready to catch the shuttle van down to Quepos and the Manuel Antonio Park which we hope to enjoy more than we have our time in Jaco.

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