We originally booked our November Puerto Veijo stay on Airbnb in September. The basic strategy was to use all the filters for what we needed, and then sort by price. Then, we emailed the hosts about the Internet requirements and ask that they run a speed test. Basically, we went for the cheapest option. We knew the kitchen consisted of a single hot plate, sink, and blender, and that there was no A/C or hot water. These things were acceptable. It came out to about $30 a night. Despite this, there were some surprises upon arriving.
Our first Airbnb and how we changed it: There were a few reasons why our first Airbnb was so unbearable that we had to book another place on top of it. The cold/lukewarm showers were bearable and a fun change. Besides, we only shower every once in a while. The lack of A/C was also bearable, there were a few fans and we only used it occasionally in Coco anyway. The first thing that struck us was the lack of a door. There was, indeed, a structure that opened and closed as you entered, but it was merely comprised of bars like a gate. The windows were covered with not-so-fine-mesh mosquito netting, and there was no door into the bedroom, but a curtain. There was no barrier to sound, and we were teaching at 4am-7am every morning. Nevermind the fact that we had to run 50 foot Ethernet cables to a Wifi router that was outside behind the structure to be able to work, too. The neighbor confronted us about her waking her up one of the first days. She was rather bitter about it too, considering the fact that the other neighbors often stayed up late playing music and shouting. We could hear our neighbors conversations at all hours of the day, including coughs and sniffles. If it wasn't for our work being affected, we might have been able to hang with it. But wait, there's more.
The apartment was entirely permeable to ALL the mosquitoes. I can live with a few bites here and there, and I know that the first couple weeks of being in a new tropical location are the worst for mosquitoes as they tend to stop biting you once they "know" you. But we would wake up several times a night from them buzzing in our ears and all around our faces. Remember, it's the raining season and there;s stagnant water everywhere, and we have no door. We bought mosquito netting and draped it carefully all around our bed. Not only was it ineffective, but it also would fall during the night and create a trapped feeling. But wait, there's more.
In the first week the water "went out" for the first of many times over the short duration of our stay. Not sure exactly how this would happen, but we shared water with several others in the "compound". Some days the faucet, toilet, and shower were just completely dry. The compound did have a washing machine, which was nice, but it was kind of dirty and only worked sometimes. We had to do a maneuver with hoses to get it to drain sometimes. Anyways, when the water went out, we did have an option other that using our precious store-bought filtered water (which we either carried walking or biking 2 km from the store.) We could bring a container to a spigot a bit a-ways and fill it, bring it back and gently pour it to wash dishes or flush the toilet. For showers, I would rather wash in the ocean than the tap water regardless. I mean, I actually kind of appreciate the experience because I have a new-found gratitude for water infrastructure. It was rarely out for more than a day, but happened without warning and more than occasionally.
Needless to say this was unbearable, and we couldn't find another place for a reasonable price (re: anything we could actually afford) online. We decided the best course of action was to go on foot, approaching the many for rent signs, and inquire in Spanish.
La caracola: After visiting a few more places that either had no private space, no internet, or was upwards of $100 a night, we found a magical little enclave of vacation houses for rent called La Caracola (the snail).
Let me say we were only able to do this because of Daniel's Spanish. It wasn't perfect, but we were willing to try and negotiate. We had to walk a bit from the street sign, and found a woman with her children sitting in the doorway. We started talking and found that she was the manager. It's the off season in CR, so they have some vacant houses. After speaking with her boss, we got set up with a (drumroll) three bedroom, three bathroom house with a full kitchen, balcony, gas stove, patio with three hammocks and a one-minute walk to the ocean, for $500 for 4 weeks. We had to pay in cash and she ask that we not use one of the rooms very much. Additionally, they came twice a week to clean for free. There was also the free coconut and water apple thing. And the multiple rooms each had multiple beds and every bed had a well established canopy mosquito net. Cable, Internet included. Multiple fans per room. They even changed the sheets every time they came to clean. Here's the bedroom I claimed.
We very much enjoyed staying here. There was beautiful art all around. Here's some photos of the upstairs balcony/hallway, as well as the bathrooms.
We would go back to the other Airbnb (which we tried to get a refund on and failed) to do laundry, but we eventually found it less of a hassle to just go to a lavanderia, usually a grandma who had a washer and dryer, who would return the clothes dried and folded in hours for about $5. The other option was to use the entire other Airbnb as a drying rack and still no guarantee they would ever dry.
The next post continues our time in PV, where we meet wild sloths, some nomadic friends, and a shaman. But first, here is a video of a lizard who really liked the coconut-honey I was making for a cake.