3 words to describe Costa Rica? Tropical, Rastafarian and expensive. The latter is why we chose to spend only 2 nights here, and the first and second are also why we chose to spend as many 2 nights here. Renowned for being Americanized and out of budget, so many travellers choose to avoid Costa Rica, zipping straight to neighbouring, and much cheaper, Nicaragua. Sitting on a bus to the border myself after a fantastic few days spent in Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast town, Puerto Viejo De Talamanca, I’m glad I didn’t make that choice and gave Costa Rica some time, be it only 2 nights.
So it turns out you can do this place on a budget which is my main Tip for today! Having formed a solid seven man group since San Blas, we had the luxury of sleeping in an Air B n B for $15 USD each per night with luxury beds, air con, showers, oh yeah, and a huge pool and terrace with outdoor dining table too! In short, we had our own villa; a retreat just 3km from the town centre and complete with jungle backdrop, beach to the front and road bikes with baskets… Flash packers rejoice, we were spoilt to death and living the dream! Hostel? Forgotten what one of those even looks like!
Group morale was at an all time high after a dip in the pool and appreciation of spending Tuesday and Wednesday in yet another little piece of paradise. The few days we spent exploring Puerto Viejo were beautiful. We cycled everywhere, cooked group dinners in the villa to save yet more cash, and enjoyed the odd afternoon Mojito in Puerto Viejo’s reggae bars before cycling back at dusk, making the most of the sea breeze in our hair. Tip 2? Get your hands on some bikes, I’d forgotten how great they are for exploring – plus we sported bright green ones with baskets and had wide handlebars so we looked super cool too. We were embracing the Americanization that so many people dislike about Costa Rica, and made it work to our advantage! I mean, as Brit abroad as it sounds, sometimes a little touch of Westernisation is welcome after a long stint of travel.
Our final escapade was a highly anticipated trip to the Jaguar Rescue Center. Formed in the jungle by a couple of leading zoologists, this place is a tropical solace for injured native animals, who are fixed and released back into the ecosystem. We learnt so much and as a cat lover, fascinated over wild cat, the Ocelot. The volunteer-led tour was completely uplifting and followed by some street vended chicken empanadas we reflected on giving Costa Rica a chance before watching the sunset on the beach with a beer. The Caribbean sunset and beer combo is becoming a firm favourite and I’m not sure how I’m going to break the routine when I get to Tiplr HQ in NYC! We spent the evening devouring home-made chilli, contemplating buying a bar and a villa in Costa Rica and spending the rest of our days volunteering with the baby monkeys, enjoy beach life, Central America and the Caribbean Coast! Sadly the morning came around and next stop is San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua… If that’s even where this 16 hour bus is heading… Wish us luck!