Costa Rica

Mid April 2016

cs-mapThe only thing Rico (aka-rich) about Costa Rica…are the people visiting it

Before beginning this article, we probably should discuss the dangers of a girl traveling alone. I have heard and witnessed myself improper behavior from couch surfing hosts and locals. And in Costa Rica I experienced the worst yet.

Strangely still, I find this way of traveling much more gratifying than being stuck with someone who might not share your ideas and ideals of traveling.

I was really excited and looking forward to arrive in this country. The name itself sound so exotic, untouched and unexplored to me. I also planned a whole month there to have a chance to volunteer and help out the community. I ended up staying 5 days.

Reasons to exclude Costa Rica from your travel plans:

  1. Costa Rica is extremely expensive! Clothing was ranging from 50 to 75 American Dollars! Being used to 5 to 10 dollars clothing in the open markets of Brazil or Bolivia, my hair went white seeing those price tags. A cocktail was 10 AMERICAN DOLLARS! A beer was 6$. Zip lining was 70 dollars (neighboring Nicaragua is 30$). If I wanted to have higher prices than back home in Canada, I would have rather stayed in the comfort of my couch.

  2. If the first reason did not do enough to convince you, read here. The Costa Rican beaches are below ordinary .The main beach in the most touristy town of Tamarindo was so muddy! I haven’t seen this kind of sand before. Costa Rican beaches serve only one purpose- for beginners surfers who take on small waves. Not surprising that most tourists were hanging out in the resort pools.

  3. As a Canadian tourist put it :” I have the feeling the locals talk to me only because they will need something from me or to do some shady business”. I had 2 negative experiences with couch surfing hosts here and they were both strangely similar. The first night, the guy seemed really friendly and he had a big bbq with all his flatmates. I was tired from traveling and went to bed around midnight. Later that night he came in the bed and tried spooning me. I said ” Oh, hell No!” and went in another room. That night his flatmate also would follow me around and try to make me drink. I was changing and he didn’t want to leave the room. The following morning the guys were supposed to wake me up for a touristic tour of some beaches in their van (this was their occupation). They didn’t wake me up and when the host came back later at night, he basically told me I can’t stay any longer and I should find another place. And so I did.

    Another host came with his motorcycle to pick me up. I had a great feeling about the new host. He was a photographer and he smiled a lot. Unfortunately things started going down the hill when I said I have a boyfriend. Before he knew this, he wanted to show me some amazing places the next day and go out to grab some drinks at night. When the time came, he texted me from work that he didn’t want to do either of these anymore and told me his imaginary girlfriend has just landed at the airport and I need to leave. That was the last drop for me, I got upset and I just cried! Cried for the inhuman treatment, for the lies, for the fake and hypocrite people here, and also because this time, I had nowhere to go.

  4. Eating the unique deliciousness that is Peruvian or Brazilian cuisine probably spoiled my taste receptors, but in my opinion, the Costa Rican food was just lame. I ate out in the capital of San Jose, but honestly, my only motivation was to get the free wifi.

  5. If you wonder weather to venture into Nicaragua, don’t hesitate but read this first. Border crossing between these two countries is tricky and enervating. I was wrong to arrive at the border at 7 PM. In the darkness, no one checked my back pack and there are no indications of where to get a passport stamp or pay the different fees.

Crossing the border

From Costa Rica to Nicaragua: (in order)

  • You need to pay an exit fee of 12 American dollars.

  • You need this paper to get an exit passport stamp.

  • Then, you need to walk on a road full of trucks being examined and cleaned in order to get to a little white house which is the beginning of Nicaragua. This takes 15 minutes.

  • You get a passport check on the road (they have had many problems with Cubans crossing over to get to the United States) and the policemen said I don’t look like any of my 2 passport photos. They obviously wanted a bribe but it was late, I was tired and I had no more cash to give.

  • Note that is safe to exchange money at the border, as sketchy as it looks, the rate is actually okay.

  • Going to another big empty building, you need to pay 2 dollars entrance tax and then get an entrance stamp for Nicaragua.

  • The policemen were smiling and laughing, they will probably try to flirt, but eventually, they will let you in.

  • After 5 PM, you cannot get a bus, so I ended up taking a 20 dollars taxi (don’t pay more than that) to my 1 hour away beach destination of San Juan del Sur.

From Nicaragua to Costa Rica:

This was easier as it was daytime but do expect to get a bag check. Be aware of scam artists wanting money for a fast track rendition of documents. I just told the guy to bugger off, but not everyone has Eastern European scam detector given by birth. 🙂

As a little conclusion, this country has been way too Americanized and the only tourists that I met who were enjoying their vacation in the resorts, of course, were Americans. People please plan your holidays somewhere else! I realize I am biased because of the unfortunate experiences I had, but if you are looking for a getaway that combines affordability, cultural and historical rich background and nature adventures in Central America, you can find better.

Costa Rican tips:

  1. I can count on my fingers the photos I took in Costa Rica. I didn’t get the chance to go, but a friendly local on my flight said Rio Celeste is really stunning. The water is a unique blue color and you won’t need to photoshop your pictures! If you venture on Costa Rica’s coast, you might be losing your time. The country’s lush jungle is closer to Liberia and the border with Nicaragua. Therefor, if you Must go to Costa Rica, I recommend you Not a beach getaway, but an eco-resort one. This way, you can spot a rich variety of flora and fauna unique to this region.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celeste_River

  1. To observe turtles and the miracle of life is a once in a lifetime kind of activity but I will abstain from going to disturb them. The massive groups of curious and ignorant tourists has driven away more than 90% of these animals to seek more peaceful hatching locations. Maybe you can check out this phenomenon from far.

https://www.myplayagrande.com/portfolio/turtle-watching/

Author: admin

A world explorer delivering the latest little known facts from the locations I visit.

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