Catch up on our road trip to Arenal here.
After the unfortunate vomiting incident, we made it to our hotel, the Gingerbread. I asked Riaz to go in and get our room sorted out as I was a) not wearing a shirt (because it was covered in Aiman’s stomach contents); b) my pants were on, but were similarly covered in Aiman’s stomach contents; and c) Aiman still had his little arms wrapped tightly around my neck and I was afraid to move lest more stomach contents get emptied on to me.
Riaz got back to the car and told my that he met Eyal (the owner/chef of the restaurant/hotel) and that he was a character but I would like him. The hotel is small, just two rooms above the restaurant and one little casita out back. We were put in the casita and it was lovely. The bed was a king size (a luxury in Costa Rica) and there was plenty of room for Aiman’s little travel crib.
I got cleaned up and we went to dinner. Costa Rican food is … nice. The flavors are all really fresh and you generally feel healthier for having eat a typical Costa Rican meal. That said, the food here is really (REALLY) boring. They are not much into spices and I can’t find a fresh jalapeno to save my life. They just don’t eat spicy food here. At all. Like ever. I can’t even get cayenne pepper in the grocery store. It’s crazy.
Anyway, Eyal’s food was NOT your typical Costa Rican fare. It was rich, flavorful and delicious and definitely a treat. Riaz was right, Eyal is a character but I thought he was awesome. He pretty much told us what to eat, but we were happy to take his advice and our dinner was delicious.
Hear me now and believe me later, but if you ever go there you must eat the bread pudding. You must.
Eyal charming the customers.
After a fabulous sleep on our giant bed, we got up to fresh baked scones and banana muffins and the most delicious shakshuka (an Israeli/Lebanese/Middle Eastern breakfast of poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce) ever.
After breakfast we went and did a bit of sight seeing at huge Lake Arenal.
One of the cool things about Costa Rica is that you can drive just a few hours and be in a completely different world. It was nice the day we went out to the lake, but most of the time we were in Arenal it was fairly rainy and pretty cool. We wore jeans and long sleeve shirts most of the time we were there. The landscape is totally different too, its all rolling hills and trees like you might find in Northern California. Not at all like the jungle oasis we came from!
We were only going to stay at the Gingerbread for two nights, but it turned our that Eyal was having a big 40th birthday bash at the restaurant on Sunday and asked us to stay. Riaz can’t resist a party thrown by a fellow rugger, so we stayed on.
We had an awesome time. Lots of nice people, lots of delicious food and lots (like 4th of July lots) of fireworks. Aiman really hated them, here he is clutching his shoe for support.
The next morning we said our goodbyes and were on our way (on a recommendation from Eyal) to Rancho Margot, a (mostly) self-sustained farm/hotel. We’ll get to that amazing place in another post.
The Gingerbread was awesome and we met so many incredibly nice people that invited us into their homes and let us take a million pictures of their unbelievable views. Even though the trip up there was …. trying, it was so totally worth it to check out this amazing (and completely different from Montezuma) area of Costa Rica.