Holy shit, Costa Rica has become as expensive as California! I was NOT prepared for that. What do you mean it’s no longer as dirt-cheap as all the surfers used to talk about years ago? Who had two thumbs and didn’t do enough current research? This gal.
Add to that my always seeming to forget how challenging it is to keep a budget. Especially considering, at least for me, how the beginning of new trips, places, situations and the emotions that come with tend to require more moola at first. At least for me.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know mentioned how expensive the country has become in the last post, but it’s worth a reminder. If for no other reason but to keep my sanity.
San Jose was my first stop and pretty much what I had heard. A place to get into the country and then out to destination areas stat. With iron security gates surrounding everything and a lack of nature, I knew it wasn’t for me. Looks like I now know twice over when asked if I “know the way to a San Jose” that my answer is a solid “unfortunately”. Still, I was super happy to be there, even that city, and am admittedly aware that I probably didn’t find the charms that it did have to offer. Reminder me of the way I think of L.A. *shrugs*
Once landing and getting past the confusion of my UBER driver continuously trying to chat it up with my limited Spanish and his limited English, I found my way though the never-ending iron gates to the cute and unassuming house-turned Airbnb I was to be staying at complete with the host’s live-in family. Getting settled into the private room that I had originally booked for myself, Venessa and her boyfriend so we could recover from jetlag before heading to the Envision Festival (I had their arrival date wrong), I soon wandered out to at the very least grab a bite. That was my first real experience finding out where the country’s prices were at when I ended up with a meal that consisted of $15 for nachos with pineapple (surprisingly not a bad addition) and a beer at a place that was one step above street food. Something I hoped was a fluke due to being super close to the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica, Costa Rica’s national stadium, but quickly realized was not. I’d say that someone (me) is spoiled from Thailand prices.
Going to the grocery from there, I panicked and only bought a bottle of wine and avocado when trying to figure out some eats for the next couple days. Epic fail but at least I got a chuckle out of it.
Sleeping though what was to be the included breakfast the next morning I had made such a point to look for, something I was to find out the morning after that consisted of nothing more than toast and drinks, I was OK with the sacrifice for the much-needed ten hours of sleep I managed to get that first night. Having that private room did cost me a pretty penny above what I would have spent on just my own bed but quickly taught me that catching up on sleep proved just how much it was worth it regardless of whether friends were there to share it or not.
Though still always a pleasant surprise, it’s the little things that make the difference. This time it was the outlets around that fit two-pronged American plugs and a bathroom sign in a restaurant with legs that twisted together for a giggle as it reminded me of the challenges of now having a 40-year-old bladder. A gauntlet I like to tell myself is only due to my needing to have more sex. Always looking for an excuse…
In addition to those two little things putting a smile on my face, I had a quiet but pleasant day wandering around the neighborhood without really knowing what to do with myself. Finding a park, pub and local restaurant to hang in, I finished my day by writing (after getting away from a nice but annoying older American man at the hostel who wouldn’t stop yapping) and organizing a flight for my next trip (back to SE Asia and India) through the company I was be working for as a mentor to teens in a service and photojournalism program over the beginning of summer.
The next day I was finally on my way to Uvita for the festival. At least I thought I was until finding out once in line with a paid ticket for my bus at the station I had found through information provided on the website, asking my hosts and plugging in the info to my UBER app with fingers crossed, that the festival started the day after the ticket showed. Something that never would have legally flown in the US. It would appear that Eventbrite didn’t care about providing accurate info to participants this time though. Extra lovely considering that many of us were coming from overseas.
With only a few minutes of minimal panic before action, I managed to find a bed at a hostel right down the street from the festival. Something I was excited for as I had only stayed in a hostel once before in Ireland. Before getting there and after the first hour or two on the bus, a short stop introduced me to the popular street food of empanadas. Something I love in the U.S. but not so much there as the outer casing tasted much more like the masa tamales are made of than what I was used to and I don’t like tamales. I know. I’m that “one”.
The first travelers I befriended was at check-in at the hostel. They were a fun group of Canadians (which there seemed to be a lot of in that area) who were also on their way to Envision by way of another festival.
After hanging with them for a bit before going to grab a bite, I next met a sweetheart of an American woman named Carly (shout out!) who was walking with a surfboard bigger than her arms wanted to allow down the same dirt path as I toward the ocean. Turned out she had stayed in the country longer than expected after the man she was dating had to gone home to Los Angeles for work. A decision I much respected.
After hitting the beach together for her to surf and both of us to watch the sunset, we followed a recommendation for some great ceviche by confusedly finding our way through the rain forest via car on a bumpy rural road to an awesome ? friendly surfer-style hostel restaurant by the name of Flutterby House that had been founded by two women from California. Go figure.
How I loved that place and wished I had a few more days to stay there. A great reminder of how unexpected the best moments in travel tend to be. Also my first true moments moments of pura vida.