I send out a status message using my Spot device every evening. This is a GPS-based system which lets family and friends know that all is well, and also posts my progress for the day on a customized Google Maps page.
For the device to pick up a satellite signal, it needs a clear view of the sky. So over the few days I stayed in Barra De Navidad I went up to rooftop of the hotel every evening to send out the daily “I’m OK” message. From the rooftop I had a view across the lagoon to this palatial looking complex:
It is the Gran Bay hotel and marina. Depending on who you spoke to it was either bankrupt and closed down, or was only open for functions. One outlandish theory was that it was a vehicle for laundering drug money. The idea was that you build a fancy hotel, fill it with “guests” who all pay cash, all the time, and hey presto!, freshly laundered cash!
Anyway I decided to take a water taxi across the lagoon and have a gander at the place.
Along the we way we passed the Marina
The water taxi dropped me off at a village which is right next to the complex, but not directly connected. No, I had to slog up a very steep hill in the afternoon heat to get to gates. From there I walked back down the same steep hill and into the marina, overheating and gasping for breath.
It was virtually deserted. There was almost no-one around except for a few people on the boats, and a few staff in an office. Most of the beach towns I’ve been to so far have been relatively empty but this place was like a ghost town. I felt like I was trespassing (I wasn’t though, the security people at the gate said if was fine to look around).
It’s a great looking place, with houses and apartments clustered on the hills overlooking a harbour packed with yachts.
Once there I discovered that getting to the hotel itself involved climbing back up the hill, and back down to the hotel. I decided to give it a miss as the thought of having to climb the hill twice was not very inviting at that point. I checked out the Gran Bay hotel prices later – It was a not too exorbitant $199 a night.
One the way out I got lucky and hitched a ride in the one car I had seen in the place. The driver was the estate agent for the complex, on her way home. She said that all the houses and apartments in the marina were sold out and now they were only selling lots back in the hills, starting at $150k and upwards. Nice to be rich I suppose.
She dropped me off at the gates and I started back down through the village. I asked directions from one guy sweeping the street. It turns out we was a retired businessman form California cleaning the gutter outside his house. He had to do it himself because the village was too small to have a street cleaning crew. He said that the hotel was open but just badly managed. He had moved down here a few years ago and built a house in the village to enjoy a low cost retirement. I’ve spoken to several expats living down here and it amazes me how cheap things are living here full time. His electricity bill for the three bedroom house was only $15 a month,and that’s with running AC and appliances.
So that was my time in the luxury enclave on the other side of the lagoon. It was nice to see, but a bit to rich for my budget so I paid another 90 cents to get a water taxi back across the lagoon and back to my more downmarket hotel.
Tomorrow its back on the road for me. Stay tuned.