Sept. 3, 2010
Just got back from the mountaintop, where I saw Jack’s restaurant enterprise. Jack told me Thursday he was heading for his restaurant today so I asked if I could tag along. He picked me up at 10 and we headed off on the 30-minute ride. You have to get off the main road and take this gravel-covered road heading straight up the mountains. His restaurant is at 1,700 feet. Not a road you want to try without 4-wheel drive. Jack’s restaurant is part of a tourist experience that also includes a walking nature tour (Pura Vida) run by David, another American. David built his botanical garden, basically, from scratch in the jungle on top of the mountain. We’re talking concrete walkways and steps going down the side of the mountain, along a stream, with vistas of a waterfall, the mountains and the seacoast. The flora is spectacular. All this was planted by David. There is also a restaurant and souvenir store where there are some really cool, Costa Rican-made stuff. I plan to buy some things there (50% off in the rainy season) and bring them back as gifts on my first return trip to the U.S. next year. Then I will have an empty suitcase to bring back stuff I need from the U.S.
Jack’s restaurant sits on a platform he built four years ago, overlooking the waterfall. He typically takes from 8 to 40 people per night (he has to have at least 8 reservations before opening up for the night). And you can’t find this place by yourself. He has his driver pick you up in Jaco and bring you back. Trust me, you probably would not want to drive your rental up there anyway. Guests can do the botanical tour, then have drinks and then a surf-and-turf dinner. Everything is inclusive – for $95. He says they were only open about 90 days last season but it was apparently enough to let him continue with his relatively high-end, hound dog lifestyle. If any of you come down to visit, we will have to include Adventure Dining in the curriculum.
On the way back, we decided we were both hungry, so we stopped at a soda near Pancho Villas (next door to the strip club). This one is set up cafeteria style and I had a typical casada lunch of red beans, rice, squash, lettuce/tomato, smoked pork chop and lemon tea – $4. Then, we went to see a friend of his, Gary, (right around the corner from my apartment) where he had to pick something up. Gary’s been here 13 years, he’s probably about 68, and he just married a young Tica, who, I understand he still lets work at night (that’s a code phrase). A woman popped out of the house next door and was another gringo Jack knew, Teresa. She moved here at age 33 having never been to Costa Rica (sound familiar?). Guess she’s been involved in marketing and real estate here and is living with a charter boat captain – who she’s separating from and considering moving back to the States, mostly because she has a two-year-old and can’t find work here in the down economy. I didn’t want to suggest she might have the same trouble in the U.S.