Costa Rica’s Pure Jungle Spa delights

  • by crv.staff
  • 09.07.09
  • 1:54 PM UTC
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Source: Az Star Net

Originally written by MARA VORHEES
for Lonely Planet

Pura Vida Spa! I had spent the day lounging on the black-sand beach and biking through the monkey-infested rain forest. When I pedaled up to the Pure Jungle Spa, I was sweaty. My host, Denise, did not bat an eye.
The spa itself — just south of Puerto Viejo on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast — is set in an open-air, thatch-roof hut, lit by lanterns and surrounded by rain forest.
Denise ushered me into a Bedrock-style shower with an open window offering a jungle view. I half expected to turn on the water by tugging on an elephant’s trunk.
After rinsing off, I was invited to soak my feet in hibiscus-scented water. Completely relaxed and refreshed, I was ready for the treatment: the spa’s signature papaya facial.
While the mask set, Denise massaged my hands and head. The call of exotic birds, the patter of rain and other sounds of the jungle drifted in. More than a facial, this was an all-body, all-sense experience.
You can’t bottle tropical paradise, but the Pure Jungle Spa comes close. All its products are locally made from organic fruit, virgin coconut oil and homemade cocoa butter.

The spa was an unexpected highlight of my stay in Puerto Viejo, a hippie haven famous for its big surf break, not for fancy spa treatments.
Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast has long lagged behind the more developed Pacific coast. Two mountain ranges — the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera de Talamanca — bisect the country and isolate the “Caribbean side.” But the divide is more than geographic.

Much of the region’s population has Afro-Caribbean roots, stretching from Jamaican and Barbadian immigrants who came to work in the banana industry. Until 1949, the country was racially segregated, and the darker-skinned residents were forbidden from leaving the Caribbean. Neglected by the central government, the region trailed in obtaining infrastructure like electricity, telephone lines and paved roads. The disparity is still evident, with higher poverty levels than in the rest of the country.
In earlier times, only wave-riders and thrill-seekers were willing to brave the overland journey to this far-flung spot. By day, they would take on Costa Rica’s sauciest surf, known as Salsa Brava; by night, they would build bonfires on the beach and sleep under the stars. The lack of telephones and electricity — let alone hotels and restaurants — didn’t bother these hard-core adventurers too much.

Nowadays, Puerto Viejo’s traditional clientele is growing up, and so is the town itself. Sleeping on the beach is no longer required. The road from San Jose is paved.
Four daily buses make the five-hour journey from San Jose to Puerto Viejo. Gray Line runs one bus a day. It’s also an easy trip for rental cars

Rating 4.33 out of 5

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