By GISELA WILLIAMS
Published: April 4, 2010
SOME vacation destinations attract tourists. Others attract disciples. The surfer town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and the tiny beach communities southeast of it, on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, are of the latter variety.
This wild, often overlooked coastal stretch, an 11-mile-long necklace of small sandy coves located in southern Limón province, may be in one of Costa Rica’s poorest areas, but it’s also one of the most diverse, populated by a blend of Costa Ricans, English-speaking Afro-Caribbeans, indigenous Cabecar and Bribri Indians, and plenty of expatriates, from French fashion designers to old German hippies.
Drive south beyond the small village of Puerto Viejo, a tiny grid of streets lined with scrappy surf bars and cafes with names like Peace & Love and EZ Times, and you’ll find pristine beaches where palm trees bend and sway over the water’s edge. Reggae music emanates from cheerful pastel-painted shacks that line a rutted, mostly dirt road. An old-growth forest, often just yards from the shore, is alive with sloths, toucans and monkeys. (continued)