Welcome to our home in the Atenas Costa Rica nestled among rambling coffee plantations, sugar cane fields, and protected forests. Atenas is a lovely little town with all the modern conveniences you might need, but far from touristy development. It is part of the province of Alejuela and is close to so many wonderful sights and amazing adventures. Often times the first question people ask us about our house is “how close is it to the beach?” Costa Rica is vastly different from vacation spots like Florida or the Caribbean where much the interest runs along the shoreline. Most of the fabulous sights and experiences in Costa Rica lie in the jungles thumping with wildlife, the majestic and intimidating volcanoes, the thunderous waterfalls, the mystical cloud forests ….and of course the gorgeous beaches. Now that the government has finished the new highway a trip to the beach is just over a half hour! This is what people come to Costa Rica to visit – and these sights are within 1-1.5 hours from our luxurious home! So come and join us and see for yourself what everyone is talking about!
There is so much wonderful flora and fauna in our community as well as on these trips we recommend and on our property. Depending upon the time of year you visit you may see some of these guys.
Judd & Liz – Owners
Many people ask Liz and I how we came to build a second home in Costa Rica so far from our apartment in Hoboken, NJ. Our story starts back in 2005 when we were traveling to the Osa Peninsula in the southern part of CR. We had a six hour layover so we decided to visit property outside of Atenas. A French Canadian named Marcel was developing Bali style villas on a mountain ridge with gorgeous panoramic views. We also discovered that we are surround by a environmentally protected zone and that there will be no future building He showed us several lots but we fell in love with the property we finally purchased because of the amazing trees and the wonderful privacy it provided. Somehow we new we had found the perfect piece of property and the architecture that suited our personal aesthetics. With the guidance of a local architect we started construction less than a year later. Liz and I followed the progress of our home during 2006 by traveling to Costa Rica many times and through constant contact. Although I had renovated several homes before this home was totally new territory for us and we had to trust our instincts and take some risks. We are thrilled with the results. The good news was we didn’t have to concern ourselves with heating or cooling the house year round. The climate is consistently warm during the day and cool nights make fore comfortable sleeping.
We’ve posted several pictures of the house in various stages of construction. After the house was finished slightly over a year later we needed to furnish and plant our gardens, both tasks were much harder than we ever expected. As far as the garden was concerned the house was literally built on a rock and there was very little top soil surrounding the house. We love to garden when we are at the house and we have many projects in mind for the future.With the help of some the locals we found furniture stores in Santa and Escuzu or we discovered we could have custom furniture built in the town of Sarchi famed for it’s many carpenters. Over the years we have watched all of the properties owners in Pica Flora complete there homes and we finally became a little community of neighbors. Each one of our homes is unique and custom built in the Bali style we all love. We have really enjoyed living in Athenas, a rural village surrounded by ranches, farms and coffee plantations. The farmer’s market in town (Friday 7-12am) Is a great social and cultural event that we rarely miss.
Leticia Oberholzen, Property Manager
Leticia is our home’s wonderful property manager. You will meet her in town when you arrive in Atenas and take you to the house. She will orient you with your surroundings, can help you arrange meals made at the house or even a massage by the pool. It is important that everyone who stays at our home be in touch with Leticia regarding itineraries so she can properly coordinate your arrival time in town.
Leticia is from Switzerland, and has lived on Grand Bahama Island for 11 years before coming to Costa Rica in 1999. Her mother tongue is Swiss German (a dialect), but she also speaks German, English, Spanish , and some French. She absolutely loves living in Atenas and would not move anywhere else because of the wonderful climate, the friendly people, the vicinity of San Jose, the beach and so many other attractive destinations. See you in Atenas!
Cell: 506 8855-4863
Here is a google maps screen grab of Atenas that I marked up for visual ease, so that you might be able to begin getting your bearings. Atenas is a small town, but it’s always easy to get lost in a new place.
What to pack all depends on how you plan to spend this vacation, but here are some of our recommendations for what to pack Hiking/walking shoes with socks, flips flops, shorts, long pans – especially the ones with zip off legs, swim suits, hat with a brim, SUNSCREEN, binoculars, bug spray (I don’t often need it at the house – but it always safe to have as you may need it by the beach.) a light wind jacket that is waterproof (or fleece). Costa Rica is near the equator, but it still gets chilly at higher elevations (Poas Volcano crater for instance) or out on a boat. It can also get chilly at night especially during the green season after the rains cool things off a bit. Fabrics that dry quickly and can be easily rinsed out are great to keep in mind while packing.
We are sometimes asked if our home includes items like linens and towels when renting it, or if it is necessary to bring these items down, so I thought I would make a quick list of things you can expect to see and things you should expect to bring (or purchase when you arrive).
What we provide 😀
- linens including some extra blankets – yes, you may need those if it gets cool at night) and towels, including beach towels.
- beach mats
- paper products such as : toilet paper (2 rolls per bathroom), paper towels (1 roll), tissue.
- fully equipped kitchen including all pots & pans, knives, silverware, blender, toaster, lots of utensils, BBq with all the utensils
- misc spices – nothing is standard – it really depends, but you may want to give a look before heading to the store which is not far.
- some books are available in our cabinet to read
- a few DVDs and Cds – please be sure to return them to the cabinet after watching them on your computer
- stereo with Mp3/iphone hookup
- high speed wireless internet
What we do NOT provide 😦
- Shampoo, conditioner, body or facial soap q-tips, toothbrush etc, or other bathroom sundries
- Sunscreen bug spray etc… – all of these things can be purchased in Atenas if you have forgotten anything
- BBQ charcoal (unless there is some left over from the previous tenant)
Here is a list of a few things you will want to bring on your trip:
- Camera !!
- Binoculars – There is a pair at the house but a bit large and old.
- Bug spray or lotion & suncreen – you can always buy some in town also. Not a lot of bugs at the house but the little “noseeums” might come nibbling at dusk if you’re tasty ;).
- Hat /sunglasses – everyone loves the sun, but no one wants skin cancer…. the sun is strong
- Trail/hiking shoes/sneakers – flip flops are cute but if you plan to find your way to a waterfall you often need to hike a trail down to or along a river – so something with a tread is really important to have.
- Water shoes – they are good for the waterfalls too, but also for beaches that might have a lot of rocks – or for white water rafting
- Light sweater /jacket – it often cools down about 15º at night – which is lovely sleeping weather but can be a bit cool especially if you got some sun earlier.
- Lightweight pants – want to go on a trail/rainforest hike? You’ll be glad you brought pants.
- Tunes – you can hook yours up to the speakers at the house.
- Car adapter or Extra battery for your phone especially if you plan to take a lot of pictures/video with your phone – which eat up battery life. Most rental cars have a USB port. You don’t want to be caught midday with a dead battery.
- a copy of your passport – you can leave the original home in the safe , but you are required to have a copy on you – not that you’ll get asked, but best to be safe.
- Casual clothing – most every place you go in Costa Rica will be pretty casual.
- Rain jacket/shell – Costa Rica is warm year round but there are some cooler areas such as cloud forests like Monteverde or Bajos del Toro which are beautiful and have lots of birds – but they rain or are misty very often and as a result tend to be much cooler as a role than the rest of the country.
- A Spanish dictionary or app
- A portable flashlight with fresh batteries – yes there is one on your phone – but it’s not that great. besides you might wan to go on a night hike – and a flashlight is a must then.
- GPS – Waze works very well in Costa Rica – but just make sure you have an international plan on your phone first OR rent a wifi hotspot with your car (you need to rent it separately). Google maps has tried to drive us through someone’s farm before so Waze is much more trustworthy. car rentals might still rent GPS’s also.
- a great attitude and an open heart!
Other options you may want to consider depending on where you’ll explore :
- money belt
- umbrella – we have a few large ones at the house to use but if you’d like a more portable one, you might want to pack one.
- drybag – helpful on the white water rafting days or super rainy days in the forest
While we always recommend the use of a GPS, which can be rented along with your car – WAZE works quite well in Costa Rica on your phone – often more accurate than Google Maps. You’ll want to have an international plan on your phone for that – OR rent a WIFI hotspot at the car rental company. It’s never easy getting around Costa Rica , but I will try my best to make it as stress free as possible. Here are some
And here is a map of Atenas from Google
- Paos Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Doka Coffee Estate, Chubascos
- El Toledo Coffee Farm, Los Chorros
- Zarcero, Bajos del Toro cloud forest , El Silencio
- Cararra National Park , River Ride, Pacific Beaches
- Turu Bari Park, Playa Esterillos, Escantada cottages
- White Water rafting on the Pacuare river
- Adventure park – horse back riding , waterfall repelling , Lands In Love
We have been compiling a list of our favorite day trips and here they are :
Every now and then if you are the house you might see our family of white faced monkeys fly through the trees. Sometimes the alpha male comes up to the house to check things out before signaling to the rest of the crew. He looks cute and he’s very smart, but, as with all wild animals, keep in mind that it is best to keep a healthy distance and please don’t attempt to feed him. There’s plenty of food in the surrounding gardens in our community for them to choose from, and feeding them might bring about expectations you wish you hadn’t set. He has been known to bang on doors and windows, and in not such a subtle way, to let you know he is there. He has been known to try to get the attention of someone in the house by throwing something at the door, like a chair. That chair has since been removed. He looks small and cute, but don’t be fooled – he is quite strong.
The slope beneath our home has a forested canopy that makes it’s way down to the river below, so as the monkeys make their way up the hill searching for more food, the have been settling in at our house on occasion much to the pleasant surprise of us all. We noticed that they came by one morning after our gardener, Jaime, had harvested some bananas for us. It was also the time that our Jacote tree was back in season. It is a small scrawny tree near the laundry room but it gives the monkeys the tart fruit they love. These pics come from some of our renters, Deb K and Stephanie. Thanks ladies!
Take pictures and enjoy watching them, but be sure not to leave valuables out on the table at night – too much of a temptation for this guy. It may not seem like an obvious scenario, but better safe than sorry. Did I mention how smart he is?
This year has gifted us a whole new kind of excitement and level of beauty here in Costa Rica! We have watched a cactus grow on our dead tree in the front of the house (which we have turned into a botanical sculpture of sorts) for several years now. These cactus are fairly common in Costa Rica and look like nothing more than spiny snakes in a tree – but not scary. They always look like the fell from somewhere higher and just landed on the giant tree branches or crooks in trees. We have another in our giant Guanacaste tree in the driveway which is shown in the back of the image below . In other words, we always thought they were nothing particularly special , just another element to our sculpture (which nature added by the way). This past year in September of 2011 we saw these bloom magnificent flowers for the first time. They bloom only once the sun goes down and then close up by early morning and that’s it!! That’s right – they bloom for 1 night only!!
Then we saw them again in May 2012, with even more flowers – and their blooms were staggered, so they did not all explode together in just one night. Now in July they are still blooming – even more profusely, and subsequently creating more delicious and gorgeous magenta fruit afterwards! We even had one on the cactus that lives on a cut branch just outside our bedroom. The official name of this is cactus is Hylocereus Costaricensis. It is an epiphytic plant – which means it is not feeding off the tree it inhabits or damaging it , it’s just renting space – for free. All of it’s nutrients and food come from the air and what passes by – and from who stops by as well 😉 . The image below shows a couple of bees getting drunk off and rolling around in the pollen inside this gorgeous specimen. If you are at the house when they look as if they are ready to bloom, see if you can get up very early to see them – it is well worth it! Enjoy!