Costa Rica

bikeIt’s hard to say much about Costa Rica because we literally blew through the country like the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes. Costa Rica definitely has a lot to offer—beautiful beaches, laidback lifestyle and peaceful democracy—but it has also become expensive and Americanized over the past few years, making it a less than ideal location for budget-conscious explorers like us. We figured it was a place we could always come back to for a vacation in later years when we have time to relax and money to spend.

We literally had 4 days to get from Nicaragua to Panama, including the two long bus rides, so we could only really choose one town to check out. Based on reviews from other backpackers, we chose Puerto Viejo as our ultimate destination.

Because of the bus schedule, we were forced to spend one night in the capital, San Jose. We typically try to avoid big cities down here, as they tend to be hectic, dirty, and sometimes dangerous— but we had no choice, so we figured we’d stick it out for 12 hours and leave first thing the next morning. We arrived in the evening and asked the taxi driver to take us straight to the nicest hostel close to the bus station. He dropped us off at Aldea, and we were actually impressed! The hostel was clean, lively and in a safe neighborhood (bonus points for the pool table.) We ventured out for dinner and found that the area reminded us of a European university city (as opposed to other Central American capitals, which feel more like Tijuana.)

photo-21The next morning we set out for another bus journey through a tunnel of rich greenery to the Caribbean beach town of Puerto Viejo. It isn’t technically the rainy season yet but the weather was gray and wet nonetheless. We walked through puddles to our hostel on the outskirts and stopped along the way to admire the waves. I have never before seen the ocean so confused—the riptide looked fierce and the waves were crashing down from multiple directions. There were a few brave surfers in the water and we were in awe of their ability to successfully surf the tumultuous waves. We later learned that the locals are as protective of this break as most Hawaiians, so gringos rarely paddle out.

Our first night in Puerto Viejo was the closest I’ve ever experienced to a monsoon. Our room was roofed with a slab of tin, and around midnight the three of us woke up to what felt like a mild earthquake and sounded like aluminum baseball bats smashing against metal. Usually sleeping in a rainstorm is peaceful, but it was so loud and invasive that rest was impossible—the noise drowned out the music I had on full blast in my headphones!

tandemThe next day we rented bikes to ride around and explore the area. It was still sprinkling as we peddled along the main road. Kyle and Meghan went for the two-person tandem bicycle, and just watching them try to stay straight or slow down kept me in stitches from behind. We biked far past the town along the main road and came across some fascinating curiosities—giant furry centipedes, toucans, and a purple plant that looked exactly like the man-eating flower in Jumangi. We found the local banana factory and spent twenty minutes watching the workers, speculating what it would be like to spend a day in their shoes. All along the road the telephone wires were laced with fine webs, and countless spiders as big as my palm were perched overhead. It was disturbing for both me and Kyle as we are definitely not bug people.

That night was rather uneventful for us—we went out to a mediocre dinner and came back early. It was the owner of our hostel’s 43rd birthday and there was a massive party at the homestead. I know it’s beyond nerdy to actually blog about the noise level of a hostel party, but it seriously sounded like a riot outside our room—and it didn’t end until 4AM! It felt like 2011 in the Juicebox apartment; had I thought it would have made a difference I would have marched out there Mabel-style and made a fuss!

Sleep-deprived and soaked to the bone, we were ready to leave Costa Rica. As I said, it’s a lovely country and I’m sure I’ll return one day, but for the Juicebox Journey it was just a quick stopping point on our route to Panama..

Posted on by Erica Duncan in Costa Rica

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