My love for Central and South America was once again renewed by my recent trip to Costa Rica. Even though I had a brief visit to England in March, there is nothing like a Spanish speaking country. When can I move there????
I traveled with my mom and sister for 12 days in Costa Rica. We did it the cheap way, staying only in hostels and cooking most of our own food. It was my mom's first time really out of the country (she had crossed the border into Mexico in the past). Since we had such a short time we only visited 3 areas: Montezuma, Monteverde and Manuel Antonio. Since we only visited places starting with "M" we will move onto "P" on our next visit.
6 1/2hours east of San Jose by bus and ferry is the Guanacaste peninsula where Montezuma is located. Montezuma is pure beach... the jungle runs right up to the coast and we stayed in a hostel that walked out to the beach. We hiked to waterfalls, did some snorkeling and met great friends: Pablo and Yusuf. Montezuma has not quite been "discovered" yet, so it is far less busy than other popular beaches in Costa Rica.
Monteverde is about 3-4hours north of San Jose by bus. We heard this was a nice place to visit because it is in the mountains and you can visit the Cloud Forrest. However it was not our favorite spot. Everything was VERY expensive and we had to pay $20 to even go hiking on our own. We met nice people in our hostel and caught the Costa Rica versus Mexico soccer game at a local bar. But after only a day and a half we decided to head on out of there.
Located 3hours south of San Jose on the Pacific coast. Another beach city! We decided to go to Manuel Antonio because we wanted to see some animals that we had missed up to that point in our travels. We were not disappointed! We stayed right outside the national park at a hostel, and saw two types of monkeys, sloths, iguanas, crabs, a crocodile, massive grasshoppers and a large rodent looking animal called an agouti. The beaches were also gorgeous! We met another girl, Hilde, traveling with her mother. They were from the Netherlands. This worked perfectly for Anne-Marie and me because we could hang out with Hilde and the moms could hang out together as well.
Manuel Antonio was my favorite spot, because we met great friends and got to know the locals as well. We went out dancing three nights in a row and got to see traditional dances, and learn how to salsa. I also got to visit a local emergency room, which is always exciting in a third world country! ;)
Will I go back to Costa Rica? Definitely.
It is far more touristy than Peru (and Peru still ranks #1 in my book) but it has it's own beauty and fun that I didn't experience in South America. I didn't spend any time at the beach last summer, since it is winter in Peru. So, Costa Rica was a nice change. Costa Ricans overall are very beautiful people. I couldn't complain about all the nice looking guys on the beach ;) Much easier to meet people there as well. The Spanish is harder to understand because they slur there words more and use Spain pronunciations. Also the prices probably rank in the highest that you will find in central/south America (besides Chile and Argentina). The average prices we paid for hostels was $7-$12/per person per night. Food prices were comparative to the U.S. at about $5 for a lunch. If you want to do it cheap, plan on cooking your own food at your hostel.
I'm sad to be home. Living life on the road is always an adventure. I think my mom and sister finally understand why I want to move down to a Spanish speaking country some day!