Hacienda Barú

by Philip Greenspun

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Hacienda Barú is off the beaten tourist track, at least for the moment. It is an 800-acre ranch with six guest cabins, each of which can sleep about six people (in either two or three bedrooms). Four of the cabins are newer and I liked them better (we stayed in one of the original two cabins one night and a newer one the next).

The owners, Jack and Diane Ewing, are the best features of the hacienda. Jack tells stories slowly, like a man used to the Old West where people had time and respect enough to listen to each other. He'll take you up into the treetops, onto a platform or just up into the damn tree if you are adventurous enough.
Diane is one of the best horsewomen in Costa Rica with a big remuda of fine animals, well-cared for and well-trained. I thought that if I stayed there long enough, she was going to teach me how to ride and make a man out of me.

There are a lot of reasons to visit Barú. We met people who'd come there to surf, people who'd come on hard-core birdwatching tours, people who'd come to relax with their families in the cabins (all of which have kitchens).

Prices are about $50/night for two people in a cabin (including breakfast). Plan to spend at least another $15-30/day pp on horseback riding, guided hikes, and other activities.

Electricity has come to Barú, but telephones have not. You'll have to book through the Ewings' tour company in San Isidro: Selva Mar. Telephone is (506) 771-1903. Their US maildrop is Selva Mar S.A./AAA Express Mail, 1641 NW 79th Avenue, Miami, FL 33126, ATTN: Hda Barú.

There is a nice orchid garden right next to the hacienda.

Manigordo ("Ocelot" in Spanish) is a Northern Italian restaurant on the grounds of the hacienda run by Roberto, a 24-year-old Milanese. He used to be the chef in an Italian cafe on South Beach in Miami Beach. Now he struggles with the local ingredients and often comes up with winners. Save room for dessert; we had a complicated cake well-presented in Creme Anglaise.

You could spend $10-15 pp for a multi-course dinner.


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