You wouldn’t know it’s the rainy season. Today, like yesterday has been absolutely perfect. Warm, but not hot, and comfortably humid. Of course, you never feel all that clean, but give it a day and you cease to notice. Whether or not this is a good thing, I’m not sure.
We woke up around eight, probably because we went to bed at, well…nine pm. After breakfast we were able to wander around the complex. Complex is best description. Though there are actually only a handful of villas/casitas the property is large enough that the walk from your room to the concierge takes a bit of time, and more than a few stairs. They have a horse stable, garden, pool, spa, two restaurants (which is good since we’re miles from anything), and a river. This must have been some summer home for Mr. Coppola before he converted it. But what I really like is how you don’t notice it, there’s no grandiose entrance or modern, shiny decor. The entrance is off the a small dirt road with a wooden sign indicating your arrival. The road to the lodge, about a quarter of a mile is lined with coconut trees, placed at perfect intervals. Everything about the lodge blends into the environment, from the bamboo vaulted ceilings to the earth tone decor. They also make a specific effort towards conservation. It may be a villa, but our only form of temperature control is an over head fan. We need flashlights at night since its so dark and electricity is used at a minimum, granted, there’s a IPod dock…which I was certainly surprised to see, but everything else, including our semi-outdoor (though thankfully with hot water) is certainly harmonious with its environment.
In the afternoon we took the one non-guided hike available (I really don’t like following guides) to a near by waterfall. It was a perfect hike, beautiful scenery, strenuous, but not so difficult you have to limp home, and most importantly led to a destination well worth the trek. The sign above the last portion of the hike reads: caution, very steep. And indeed it is. Just the sort of grabbing branches and swinging yourself down sort of hiking I love. The trail was well maintained cutting through thick vegetation with occasional glimpses of the river below. The earth here, is surprisingly similar to that of Ghana, having a rust-orange quality that fades as the sun peeks from a cloud. I love the earth, it’s one of my favorite parts of scenery. Perhaps it’s the relative dullness of much of it at home, but nothing feels quite as exotic as red or orange tinged dirt. Its a reminder of somewhere familiar, memories of daladalas bumping along with an African sunset, and a supreme sense of joy. The waterfall itself was just about as picturesque as they come, though not particularly high, it crashed into a perfect lagoon below. And best of all, you can swim, and cliff jump if you so choose. The water, after feeling hot, sweaty, and a bit grimy from the hike was so alluring I didn’t bother changing behind a tree into my swimsuit. Instead, I was in the water within moments of arriving, figuring my clothes would dry from the heat anyway. Its difficult to describe the water, on first glance it looks opaque, almost milky with a teal tone. But that makes it sound dirty, it isn’t. When you get up close, or the water is moving quickly it is perfectly clear.
We finished the excursion with Thai massages. My first ever. I usually opt for aromatherapy or deep-tissue being afraid of ones in which “guided stretching” is a descriptor. But, they specialize in that here, so we did it. And of course, it’s absolutely fantastic, the stretching, far from showcasing my complete lack of flexibility, was really relaxing.
And aside from great massages, they really take care of you. And I mean, really, to the point of being slightly creepy. First, anything you want they’ll get. Need a coconut with a straw? Someone will go cut you one down (though give them an hour and it’ll be chilled). Or, ask them to pack a lunch for your hike, then pick it up on your way out. But, they also anticipate your every move, put best, like housekeeping ninjas. You never see them. Like, when you go to dinner someone is notified and they come up for turn down, where they completely change your bedding from light middle of the day siesta sheets, to down comforters with a hot water bottle for the chilly evenings. They also place candles on the banister by the porch. We blew them out before bed, but I wonder if someone goes around at night blowing out them out…
This is such a novelty to me. I obviously, cannot afford this style of accommodation when traveling without my family at this juncture in my life. I’m used to surly, apathetic at best, hostel workers (ok, sometimes they’re friendly) where asking for turn down service would generate some confused looks. So a hot water bottle? The fact that those coconut cookies to which I am now addicted keep reappearing? Simply put, amazing.
The food here is surprisingly good, most resorts or all inclusives of this sort usually boast pretty mediocre food options. The Guatemalteca restaurant in particular offers excellent local food (of course, at a marked up price), first local dish: Jacon, a green pepper stew with potatoes, chicken, and spices. Perhaps I was just really hungry from the hike, but that stew was fantastic. Then again, any cuisine heavy on peppers and hot sauce is my version of culinary heaven.