Publication: Tico Times.
travelers arriving in Puerto Jiménez are just
passing through, heading from the airport or the last
vestige of paved highway onto gravel roads leading to
Corcovado, Matapalo and other points the southern Pacific
Osa Peninsula. But now there’s an attractive reason
to stay in Puerto Jiménez and use it as a comfortable,
affordable base for a sport fishing or exploring.
Parrot Bay Village, formerly Doña Leta’s
Bungalows, is the dream of two New Jersey fishermen.
Art Augustensen, a retired pilot, and Sean Weaver, a
businessman, met in Costa Rica just over a year ago.
They discovered that not only did they share experiences
as past U.S. Coast Guard captains, but they also lived
in the same town. Given that both were also sport-fishing
fanatics, it seemed logical to find a house and a boat
to share in Costa Rica.
they saw this property for sale, they were hooked, even
though it was much bigger than they had bargained on.
A cluster of eight basic wooden cabinas, the property
was ideally sited between a beach and a mangrove lagoon,
just to the north of the Puerto Jiménez landing
strip. With an infusion of capital and new ideas, the
octagonal and rectangular bungalows are now charming,
upscale cottages residing in a lushly re-landscaped
new owners retained the cabins’ handsome cristobál
wooden doors with incised crabs, iguanas and pelicans
carved by local craftsman don Eric, whose workshop is
down the road. Renovations included remote-controlled
air-conditioning units, ceiling fans and lights, innovative
storage shelves, new ceramic tile and freshened-up bathrooms
with porcelain sinks, lots of thick towels and –
a welcome rarity in Costa Rican bathrooms – fluffy
bath mats. The décor is fresh, with white cotton
curtains, diamond-patterned quilts and wooden furniture.
My comfortable cabin, named Cangrejo for the two crabs
on the door, was an intriguing octagonal shape, with
windows on three sides providing a 270-degree panorama
of garden and gulf. Another more traditional rectangular
cabin looks like a storybook cottage, perfect for a
family of four, with a double bed below and two single
beds in a loft.
Leta’s kitchenettes are gone, along with the self-catering
concept, say managers Darren and Katie Mc Cleave (plus
there 9 month old baby Tomas) he is a U.S. Coast Guard
captain and she a grammar school teacher are the perfect
hosts. The small open-air restaurant and gleaming wood
bar, with a Nancy tree growing through the roof, catches
the breezes off the Golfo Dulce and the mountain views
meals a day are served, but the kitchen really shines
at dinner. Federico, a former B&B owner from Colombia,
produces first-class fare, customized to your tastes.
His sautéed fillet of pargo, lightly garlicked,
breaded and topped with fresh lemon and parsley, was
a model of perfectly cooked fish. Since sport fishing
is the focus here, it’s good to know that the
fish you catch will end up cooked just the way you like
Parrot Village has designed a wide range of all-inclusive
sport-fishing packages to take advantage of three brand-new
29-foot Seavee fishing boats. English-speaking captains
will take inshore fishermen around the gulf in search
of roosterfish, amberjack, snapper and snook. Offshore
targets include sailfish, marlin, dorado, yellow fin
tuna and wahoo.
as many a fisherman has learned to his grief, “gone
fishing” and leaving the family behind does not
always make for smooth seas. So, Parrot Village has
put just as much effort into tour packages for non-fishing
families and spouses.
can begin right on the beach, with flights of brown
pelicans soaring past in formation and scarlet macaws
noisily feasting on the fruiting beach almonds. Just
steps behind the parking lot, a path leads to a dense,
mangrove lagoon where scores of cattle egrets nest on
an island, just tantalizingly out of reach of the jaws
of about 30 spectacled caimans. Mike Boston, an enthusiastic,
knowledgeable zoologist from Belfast who runs Osa Aventura
tours into Corcovado National Park, introduces guests
to the lagoon’s denizens and shows you how to
feed a hungry caiman – quickly! Jo-Jo, a hefty
15-year-old specimen and definitely the alpha caiman
in this lagoon, had us backing quickly down the path
as he boldly advanced and Boston slowly unwrapped the
raw meat he had brought.
farther afield, guests can kayak among bird-filled mangroves
close by or paddle out on the gulf to watch the sunset,
surrounded by dolphins, and accompanied by expert guides
from local expedition outfitters Escondido Trex. Casa
Orquidea, a magnificent private botanical garden with
early-morning tours, is just a boat ride away across
the gulf. Parrot Village also arranges hikes and horseback
riding, water rappelling, snorkeling and excursions
to a gold-mining town just outside Corcovado National
some lively new restaurants and bars in Puerto Jiménez,
which is starting to look more funky than frontier,
and you can happily spend a holiday here, adventuring
by day and returning to the comfort of Parrot Bay Village
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