June 22, 2010
It was a no-brainer! Jaco wins!
Michael and his visiting girlfriend, Sally, picked me up at 9:15 and off we went on the hour’s drive to Jaco. Michael’s first inclination when he came here was to try Jaco first, after having been there for a visit, but he was talked out of it by Rena, who we are realizing is someone we should just stay away from. Anyway, we had a nice drive and passed through Parrita, which is larger than Quepos but not really near the ocean, and Playa Hermosa, which is a few miles south of Jaco and a big surfers’ destination. These towns remind me of driving around rural Georgia in the early 1980s. We passed the MaxiBogada outside of Jaco, which is the nearest thing to a Walmart they have here. I plan to visit it next week – WHEN I MOVE!
I was let off in front of the KFC/Quiznos at the north end of town, where my 11 am appointment was. The Jaco streets and sidewalks are a big improvement over Quepos. Lots of retail and lots of people, cars and bikes – and this is the offseason. Found the first rental place easily, just a block off the main drag. This is a complex of one-story apartments arranged in kind of a square, with a swimming pool in the middle. About 50 units. There is a drive-in security gate at the front with a guard and I had to register as a visitor to get in. The guard and I had the usual language trouble but figured it out eventually. He pointed to where James was at a unit in the far right corner and I went over to meet him. James walked out to me, asked if I was Ken and greeted me very warmly. James is a California surfer dude who has been in-country 10 years and is married to a pretty Tica, with a nine-year-old son. He’s maybe 35 with lots of tattoos and very helpful and friendly. He and his wife were cleaning up the unit when I arrived.
James owns several of the units, serves as the complex manager and has been sprucing up the place since he took over. “I figured I had to protect my investment,” he said about managing the complex. The unit I looked at is a one-bedroom, one-bath cabina, furnished and cable included. Usual bath and laundry room (open air above), TV, futon-type sofa/foldout bed, wooden kitchen table and chairs, microwave, two-burner electric cooker, coffee maker, dishes, cabinets (yeah), double bed with small closet, A/C in bedroom, fan. It was listed for $400 but James said I could have it for $350, water included. Internet will be by cable, not Wi-Fi and they can set me up immediately. James even offered to drive me around town to show me where everything is. Did I mention it has a pool?
Told him I would let him know as I had other places to look at. First, I walked to the beach to see how far it was. Two blocks and I was standing on the sand at the water’s edge. Then I started walking down the main street and it got progressively more touristy the further south I went. Feeling like I already had a bird in the hand and I didn’t really know where the other places were, I turned back and sealed the deal on James’ unit. I will need one month’s rent and a month’s security deposit. Only two blocks from the beach. And there’s a modern, air conditioned grocery store one block away. This is a much better deal than my apartment in Quepos, which is 10 blocks from the water that is available, rents for $50 more without cable and has virtually no cabinets. It’s also an hour closer to San Jose. I’m sacrificing a second bedroom, which I don’t need.
As I waited for Michael, I did some more exploring, going into a couple of stores to check prices and find out where I could find things I would need. It got into lunch hour and finally I figured Michael and Sally were having lunch somewhere and I might as well get some fried chicken and a LARGE soda at the KFC while I waited. Also allowed me to cool down in the A/C and use the bathroom (bano). They finally arrived and we started back, first taking a detour to where they had found the Radio Shack and another beach north of Jaco. Jaco beach is basically a cove with rocky, tree-covered peninsulas on either end. On the other side of the peninsula on the south end is Playa Hermosa. On the other side on the north end is this other beach (Herradura) and the local marina.
I’m moving next Thursday, July 1. I plan to rent a car. Then I will start over again exploring a new home. My Mississippi bubba friend Mark has tried to dissuade me from Jaco, pointing out the cultural charm of Quepos vs. the nightlife and neon of Jaco’s main street. But let me tell you, there is a lot of excitement in Jaco that just doesn’t exist in Quepos. The north end, where I will be, is not as touristy as the south end, so I will be somewhat removed from the rowdy crowds – if I choose to be. There are a lot more places to find the things I need also. And there’s a lot more eye candy! The prices in the grocery seemed comparable to Quepos, maybe a few cents higher but not bad. And did I mention I have a pool?
This was a no-brainer, quite frankly. And a new adventure.