Lookout Inn Lodge:
Article and Photos by
Terry and Katya
If you are a really avid stair climber, the fun is only beginning. Terry has just finished building his `'Stairway to Heaven." 217 steps that lead up to a ridge trail that passes through primary forest to a waterfall. The 2-km loop trail hooks up with Shady Lane. a scenic dirt road that is an early-morning birder's paradise.
If climbing stairs is not your idea of a good time. you can drive your car up the steep, concrete driveway straight to the inn and never climb more than the stairs between the three decks. Along with the view, there's plenty to enjoy at the inn with-out getting your heart rate up.
Terry. originally from Santa Fe. has a quirky sense of style — and humor. There's a decorative surprise in every corner of the inn. The winding, wood rail of the spiral staircase ends in a carved serpent's head. A driftwood log in the lounge is populated with sculpted frogs: ceramic iguanas burst out of vases; a shaggy Indonesian mask greets you in the rest room: the inn's deck railing is an artistic latticework of twigs.
The three rooms in the inn are bright. white and spacious, with large arching windows and handsome. carved-wood doors. Colorful murals feature fish. monkeys and birds. Beds have tree-trunk frames. and the large, tiled bathrooms have hanging plants and plenty of solar-heated hot water (Carate is off the electrical grid).
Hidden in the garden are two very private cabins. with screened windows, good cross-ventilation and solar-powered fans. Reading lamps over the beds are welcome, and hanging lanterns with candles create a romantic mood for non-readers. Bathrooms have pebbled floors and smooth stones to sit on under hot- water showers. A rare and wonderful amenity is a two-sided hanging closet that allows you to completely unpack and keep your clothes wrinkle-free. Large verandahs come with hammocks and comfortable cane chairs.
Food at the inn is plentiful and imaginative. with fresh fish, fruit and vegetables. sometimes spiced with Asian flavorings. When the excellent cook is off for the day — his cheesy drop scones are not to be missed —Terry takes over, cooking up. say. mahimahi fillets sautéed in a spicy coating. accompanied by broccoli in sesame oil with almonds and a salad of interesting mixed greens harvested from a neighbor's garden. Katya contributes the sweet endings: home-made cheesecakes, cookies and cakes.
From top to bottom, all 305 steps of the way, Lookout Inn Lodge is a stairway to both earthly and heavenly delights.
Lookout Inn (tel/fax 735-5431, www.lookout-inn.com) is in the Osa Peninsula. on the beach at Carate. 300 meters east of the landing strip. High-season double-occupancy rates. including all meals and taxes. are: $99 per person in the inn. $109 per person in the garden cabins. For information on the turtle project. visit www.savetheseaturtle.org
By Plane: SANSA (221-9414) and NatureAir (220-3054) fly regularly to Puerto Jimenez. Air taxis from there will take you to the Carate airstrip.
By Car: Turn south off Inter-American Highway at Chacarita. drive about 40 km to Rincon on paved but bumpy road, then south along gravel road roughly 35 km to Puerto Jimenez. From there, drive 1/12 hours towards Carate. About nine hours.