first 24 hours in carrillo (costa rica)

what do i like?
-r&r – the beach of carrillo doesn’t have a single building along its whole beachfront. light brown/white sand sit behind a few rows of palm trees and when the sun is out, the water is a glassy, blue colour. i’d have to give it some serious consideration as being one of the prettiest beachfronts i’ve been to. the water isn’t quite as warm as samara’s but it’s refreshing nonetheless.

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as busy as the beach has gotten all week

-zero crowds – earlier this year, we traveled to the philipines and upon setting foot onto the fine sand of nacpan beach, we were greeted with a sight of less than a handful of people. carrillo is just like that. during sunset, the (roughly) 2km beachfront saw up to 30 people on it but during the day, i couldn’t count more than five people on the sand with us. many of the visitors are local ticos which probably explains why the development of the beachfront is still nonexistent. nature unspoiled. it’s beautiful.

stop hogging all the water!
stop hogging all the water!

-sunsets with the sun – that’s what we’re here for and it came out the very first day!

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not bad. i was talking about the sun. sheesh.

what do i dislike?
-a little too quiet – there’s one grocery store in town and it doesn’t have many supplies necessary
-more car friendly than i’d like – samara is more backpacker friendly and carrillo feels like it’s mainly catered towards vacationing families & couples; the types that will usually have their own modes of transportation. samara has more restaurants, bars, a more developed coastline and taxis. carrillo on the other hand has an empty beach, gorgeous sunset and is all about the quiet time after dusk. without a car, our number one option for day activities are to walk down the hill to the beach.

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welcome to carrillo. the town extends as far as you can see the road go

-crocodiles – yes, you read that correctly. costa rica is the leader in ‘new world’ crocodile attacks. although the crocs are generally not the salt water type and prefer to live in the freshwater rivers, there is a river that feeds into playa carrillo and there are reportedly two crocs that have made it their home. do they venture outwards into the sea? not from my hour of internet reserach. how do we know they exist? well, i saw a crowd hovering near the only bridge in town and upon walking closer, found that they were dangling a raw chicken to feed one of the crocs. as i stood in amazement, i shared a glance with a traveling european with a gigantic zoom lens (nearly two feet long) who shook his head and said ‘i don’t know about swimming in these waters’. he then proceeded to walk closer and closer to the croc until the locals urged him to stay further back. stupidity breeds stupidity.

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this sucker was in the 8-10 foot range and he was one beefy motherf*cker around the stomach area. i’m really on the fence about this…

what do i like/dislike about the new accomodations?
-over the course of this year we’ve slept in modern apartments, rustic cabanas, airport benches, tiny japanese flats and hotel rooms of all types. we’ve never stayed in a villa before so what better way to round out the trip by staying in one? i’m still a little in shock and i’m trying to comprehend how this actually managed to happen for $110usd/night. to compress the story down, we called the owners of this villa on a whim just to see if they had availability and thanks to a last minute cancellation for a group of 8 people, the house was currently unrented. there is a private swimming pool and 5 bedrooms, two of those being in the guesthouse. the unit normally goes for $3500usd/week in the low season, $4200/week during peak weeks however we got it for $55usd/person/night. we’ve been very strict with our housing budget this trip and $150cad/night is much higher than what we’ve been limiting ourselves to… but i’d hate myself even more if we had passed up this deal. with just three nights left in san jose before we head home, this is the perfect way to round out this hectic year. we’re going to sprawl out and relax here before we come back home to, well, being homeless.

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guesthouse on the left with two bedrooms and we’re staying in the right building with 3 bedrooms
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our living area complete with a sonos system and jenga
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breakfast bar seeting. those chairs are as tall as we are. our hosts are clearly not asian
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king sized beds. yeaaaaaah
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our breakfast companion, lizzy

biggest adjustments from the previous stop?
-while being just a few km away from samara, carrillo feels completely different. i think i’d describe it as the older, more romantic version of samara. large rental villas are perfect for families with kids old enough to enjoy activities and the luxurious nambuu beachfront bungalows are ideal for vacationing couples.

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lots of flowers in this small town
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tic tac toe
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lots of colours

what was our first meal?

-pizza. with only a handful of restaurants (seriously, i could only count five that we saw) in town, we picked up takeout to eat on our patio overlooking the pool while watching two cockroaches struggle for life after ingesting some sort of poison.

overall impressions?
-downtime, beach days and pool sessions are what the next week will be made of. samara was such a perfect mix of being quiet yet populated so i think i’ll be constantly comparing carrillo with that vibe. we had wanted somewhere quiet (and somewhat accessible to san jose) to wind down this year and i think we may have found it. i’m a little bummed that my surf lessons don’t look like they will be continuing here but i’ll have to make do with some reading. we also have a pair of boogie boards at our rental unit so hopefully we’ll have a chance to try those out as well.

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carrillo beach has been called ‘beautiful’ by many travel sites that we’ve come across… we can confirm that it lives up to the hype
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sunset by the water

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