Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, on the southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, is about 7 kilometers from where I´m staying. It was originally populated by Jamaica, which is obvious the minute you get into town. It reminds me of Northern California, but dipped in Rasta with some extra Bob Marley sprinkled on top. Surfers are abundant, as is The Reefer:
Puerto Viejo contains two of the greatest business ideas that I have ever seen.
The first is the free outdoor movie theater. The screen is located across the street from an internet cafe, and there are several benches in front of the cafe for people to sit on while they watch the movie. There are three movies every night, and they are usually in English with Spanish subtitles. I saw Spy Game there a couple of nights ago, and last night they showed The Hangover. The theater is located on a bus route, so sometimes buses drive between the screen and the audience, but it´s a great place to wait for the bus.
The second must be someone´s pipe dream come true. It´s called Rocking J´s (rocking hammocks, not rockin roll), and I´m not really sure how to define it. It is a hostel made up of several large pavilions, courtyards, and a garden (with a live horse living in it!?). It is at least the size of a football field, and with several choices of accommodation. You can opt for indoor camping, with your choice of gravel or dirt substrate. You can bring your own tent, or use one of theirs. If camping isn´t your thing, you can stay in one of the hammock pavilions for $6/night. I stayed there a couple of days ago, in order to catch a bus to some whitewater rafting the following morning (but that´s another story). At the front desk, I was given a sheet and a key the the locker that corresponded to my hammock. I found my hammock in a pavilion containing 40 colorful hammocks, all hanging side by side. That night, I dozed off to the sound of the Caribbean Sea, conveniently located just behind Rocking J´s.
My favorite part of Rocking J´s is the decorating. Literally every man made surface is covered in colorful tiles arranged artfully by who knows who. Walls, floors, tables, sinks, everything. The things that couldn´t be covered in tiles are painted with pictures of flowers, Jim Morrison, aliens, you name it. You can learn more about Rocking J´s at http://www.rockingjs.com. Or, you can ask my dad, he´s been living there for the last three weeks 🙂
Just behind Rocking J´s is the beach, and if you follow a path south along the water for about a kilometer, you wind up a Cocoles, a popular beach and surf spot. Pura Vida.