MORE CARIBBEAN VACATIONS AND COSTA RICA

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In my last column, I told about some Christmas time vacations in the Bahamas and the Caribbean. This week I’ll tell about some of the other places we’ve visited. One was to a resort in Costa Rica, on the Pacific side near Liberia and not far south of Nicaragua. The living quarters were nice enough, but were situated on top of a hill. A motorized vehicle made regular trips to and from the quarters to the facilities downhill close to the shore. The water was somewhat murky and the narrow beach was uninviting. The food was good and the bar was open day and night. The only feature that impressed me favorably was a boat ride we hired to take us on a lengthy stretch on a nearby river.
Basilisk lizards were common basking on protruding stumps and limbs along the shores. When  approached, they would leap from their perches and run across the water on their hind limbs, a trait resulting in their Spanish names ‘Jesu Christo lizards’ or in English, Jesus Christ lizards. Also common were monkeys and birds, notably colorful large-billed toucans. So, if you visit Costa Rica, be sure to take a boat ride on a river. We didn’t see any giant river otters or jaguars, but if you are fortunate you might see them.
I told of one of our trips to Aruba, but didn’t mention a vacation to Curaçao, one of Aruba’s three sister islands near the coast of Venezuela. The weather was perfect and the restaurant food was delicious. The beach was clean and the water was clear. A breakwater, with occasional openings, extended for a long way not far from the beach. Snorkeling was exceptionally good on both sides of the breakwater. The only drawbacks, they could be so described, were topless women sunbathing. They distracted my ability to watch and identify birds. I did my best to ignore them, so much so that I nearly stepped on one. On one of my strolls, not far from me a topless woman walked to the water’s edge, removed the bottom of her bikini, rinsed it, and pulled it back on. I pretended not to see her, but I got the impression that she couldn’t care less whether I noticed her or not.
I noticed there was a difference in the guests’ personalities at Curaçao and some other places we visited. Almost all the Southerners and many Europeans I encountered were friendly and enjoyed conversing with me, whereas nearly all the Canadians tended to be aloof. In Curaçao. I met some Dutch detectives who were there investigating a robbery. Curaçao is a protectorate of the Netherlands. They were very friendly and conversant. One said,”We’ve been here for several days, and you are the only person that has asked who we are or why we are here. The other guests seem to be standoffish.” I responded,”I’ve noticed he same thing and I believe it’s because most are from Canada. Canadians tend to stick to themselves, and if you’re not one of them, they are not the least bit interested in you.”
I mentioned our trip to Cancun and to the island of Cozumel. Two additional trips to Mexico were to resorts on the Mexican Riviera, which consists of about 20 cities on the Caribbean coast extending from Playa del Carmen southward to Tulum. The weather was pleasant, the beaches were clean, the water was clear, and the food couldn’t have been better.  Warnings that possession of marijuana or other illicit substances could result in severe penalties were prominently displayed. During our visits, there was no evidence of criminal activity. In recent years, crime in Mexico has increased. Prior to vacationing in Mexico nowadays, I would research the situation carefully.
A vacation to the Caribbean island St. Maarten failed to meet our expectations. Although the food and accommodations were reasonably good, there was not much else warranting a recommendation. However, we were on the Netherlands side, and I was told that the opposite side, governed by the French, is more scenic and inviting. After returning home, I learned that while we were there, Rush Limbaugh was vacationing on the French side. Notably, on the French  side of the island, clothing is “optional,” but on the other side it is not.

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