Liberia kinda sucks
Liberia kinda sucks. Costa Rica has tons of gorgeous places to be, I wouldn't waste much time in Liberia. Sure there are some great spots within an hour or so of Liberia, but I found transportation to be way higher in Liberia to these spots in comparison to the rest of the country. 100$ basically to get anywhere. Spend your time on the beach or in the forest. Liberia is a big town with a ton of banks, seriously one on every corner, and nothing interesting in between! There are shopping centers, supermarkets, banks. It's just another town and a disturbance in the beauty and tranquilty of Costa Rica. Don't say you weren't warned!
The Allegro Papagayo Resort has a hike on the property. This path is clearly marked if you want to go on your own or every day at 10 am (except Sunday I think) they have a guided tour. The heat is extreme later in the day and the animals are less active so I would advise going early (like around 8 am). It will take about 2 hours out and back at a leisurely pace. It is surprising how many people don't make the effort to take the hike as it is really enjoyable and a great way to see more wildlife. We saw lots of birds including parakeets, many many iguanas, howler monkeys and lizards; most even cooperated and were near their designated sign! Also saw many cacti and interesting trees. See travelog for more photos.
Travel Dates: February 23 2009.
"Take Me To "The White City""
With a 5-hour wait until my flight leaves to return to Canada, I can't be bothered sitting around with all the other sun-baked vacationers drinking, reminiscing, and being bored with each other yet again at the airport, so I approach the taxi stand with a tourist brochure in hand and show the drivers there a page-spread which features old downtown Liberia. I point at a white building in one of the photos. "Si, si, si...," they mutter. I clumsily ask in Spanish how long it will take to get me there and how much it would cost to return me to the airport afterwards. This doesn't seem like a request they're used to and they huddle in a small conference for a moment before answering, "30 dolares." They also tell me it will take 20 minutes in each direction. That's leaves plenty of time to get back here for the flight and it's made up my mind--"OK, let's go!"
"On The Road With Eugenio"
One of the taxi drivers leads me to his red truck and then we're off. He asks if I speak Spanish, and I tell him, "No... Poorly." I ask if he speaks English and he says, "No." But then he asks my name, and I do understand that. "Ed... Eduardo." I ask his and he shows me his ID tag, "Eugenio." "Ahh...," I exclaim, "Eugene! Mucho gusto!" He's very pleased with this translation of his name, "Si, si... Eugene!"
Over the next hour, Eugene shows me his city, Liberia--the city where he grew up. He stops at historical landmarks, churches, and parks. Grinning and beaming with civic pride at each new location, he encourages me to get out of the truck and take pictures of whatever he's pointing at. "Photo, photo...," he insists.
An hour later, driving back to the airport, we're chatting about all kinds of things despite the language barrier--the great sunny weather this week, the strong winds, beaches, music, our families and homes. We both have our windows rolled down and the warm Costa Rican air is running through my hair. I realize then that this is one of those perfect moments in life--one that you would be happy to be frozen in forever. ...Me and Eugenio on a never ending highway.
Sadly, we arrive back at Liberia International and I offer him $40--$10 more than we'd agreed on. He seems reluctant to take any of my money. He's had as good a time as I did on our afternoon excursion. But I insist, begging, "Por favor!" Finally he accepts giving me a giant smile, a warm handshake, and a pat on the shoulder. I'm trying desperately to think of the Spanish phrase for "that was fun", but come up blank. Instead I offer, "Amigos?" "Si, si, Amigos!," he returns.
I watch as he walks back to where the other taxi drivers are standing around. There's a spring in his step.
Liberia is a small, quiet town along the interamericana that is much bigger in its importance for transportation in Costa Rica. As the capital of the Guanacaste, most buses stop here and it's easy to get a transfer to San Jose, Puntarenas, the Nicoya Peninsula, or as a stopover on the way to or ffrom Nicaragua. There is also an airport nearby if you prefer that method.
While there isn't a whole lot going on in the town itself, it provides welcome relief from the crowds in San Jose and the tourists at the Nicoya Peninsula. It's a place to relax, have a beer and a meal at a restaurant along the plaza, and just people watch for as long as you want.
The region of Guanacaste is dry and hot compared to the cloud forests of Monteverde and the tropical beaches of the Nicoya and Caribbean coastline. The area has a history of ranching, and this is seen in their pride of the sabaneros, essentially the Costa Rican cowboys. Look for the monument southwest of the parque central, and duck into any number of local shops to see their skill at crafting saddles, boots, belts, and other essential cowboy items.
Province of Guanacaste
"Occidental Allegro Papagayo Resort"
We stayed at an all inclusive resort about 45 minute drive from Liberia, on Manzanillo (meaning small apple) Beach. At no time during our trip did I actually make it to the City of Liberia. I used this page mainly for the area around the resort and to talk about the resort itself. Hopefully you aren't too dissapointed.