What I learned in Costa Rica

Three weeks on my own in Costa Rica taught me a lot. From always packing a change of clothes in your hand luggage to being flexible in your schedule. But of course there was much more that I noticed, about the country and about myself. Yours, Pollybert

1.) The streets in San Jose are divided in Avenidas and Calles. They are all one ways. The Avenidas running from east to west and the Calles north to south. Still you need to look in both directions when crossing a street. You never know.

2.) There are almost no dogs on the streets of San José. And the ones you see are pets and leashed, some of them even travel in a buggy and wear a helmet.

dog in buggy wearing a helmet @San José

3.) The barbed wire on top of fences and roofs is not inspiring confidence at all.

Costa Rica Guesthouse garden with barbed wire on top @San José

4.) Coffee in Costa Rica is really tasty. I can’t think of a single bad cup except for one espresso. Most of the times I had ‘café negro’ which is just filter coffee. Such a tasty brew, very light but astonishingly big on taste. The way they roast the beans here is perfect.

5.) ‘Semana Santa’ is crazy. Everyone is on holidays, shops are closed, even some public buses stop driving for Thursday and Friday of Holy Week. Going to Costa Rica during this week without a reservation is also crazy. But with no plan and missing luggage I had to be very flexible.

announcing ‘Holy Week’ @San José

6.) Fast food places are everywhere. Not really sure why they are so popular but you have one at almost every corner. At least in San José.

7.) Bicycle lanes are in the middle of the middle of the pedestrian streets and indicated in blue. But as you can see, bicycles get pushed on the side and pedestrians walk in the middle.

bicycle lane in blue @San José

On some regular streets bicycles have priority. Can’t say I have ever seen that in Austria.

priority for cyclists @San José

8.) Never book a hotel before booking the shuttle. Lesson learned in Costa Rica guesthouse. The shuttle turned out to be half of the price of three nights in the hotel.

9.) Using a private shuttle with Interbus is not cheap but also very convenient. This door to door service is safe and very comfortable. No checking if your luggage is still on the bus, always a place to sit, and AC while traveling. You can manage all trips also by public bus going through San José when you cross from the Caribbean side to the Pacific. Which also includes a change of bus station in the capital depending on your direction. But I preferred Interbus, except for my last transfer all of them went smoothly.

10.) Costa Rica abolished slavery in 1824. At that time the country had 68 slaves in total.

11.) You need to have time for everything, so don’t  stress. Even if it is just paying your bill.

12.) They have drive-ins for ATMs. That’s so funny to see that since this is something I only know from the US. I am not sure if I have ever seen that in Europe. But seeing it in La Fortuna made me realize again how lazy that makes people.

entrance to the ATM drive-in @La Fortuna

13.) Horses and cows share a grazing area.

14.) When you want to make a fence you put a piece of wood in the ground. After a while the wood will take root and grow into a tree. Quite unbelievable, but it’s working in Costa Rica.

how to make a fence @Costa Rica

15.) I met the nicest people on the road from all over the world.

Judith from the Netherlands @La Fortuna

15.) Everywhere in national parks you have meeting points or safety zones. Not sure what these are for, I mean in case of what dangers? But it appears a good thing to be prepared. I later learned that it has actually a lot to do with the bureaucratic administration.

16.) If there is breakfast in a hostel it’s always between 7-8.

17.) No paper goes in the toilet! Despite the toilet paper being so thin, that one has to tug at least three times to have anything of worth in hands.

18.) Cats like to nibble books. Or at least the one in the B&B Luz en el Cielo liked it.

19.) There is a reason why there is a mosquito net around your bed. It’s not just a nice draping, it’s for you to use it.

20.) Don’t walk in flip flops to a waterfall when you don’t know the trail. This was already dangerous while in my 20s. Not sure how I could have forgotten that.

21.) The moment you start upgrading your rooms on a trip, there is no going back to hostels anymore.

22.) I miss the beer koozies from Thailand which kept the humidity at bay while the beer warmed. In Costa Rica someone always came to wipe the table since it got so wet from the perspiration of the bottle.

23.) There is so much wildlife on a beach when you give yourself time to look for it. Not just the little shell animals but also birds, monkeys, and lizards.

a lizzard next to me in the shade @Tamarindo beach

24.) While on the trail in a park you greet everyone, just like in the mountains in Austria.

25.) I am not sure what kind of breed of cows there in Costa Rica, but some of them look emaciated.

26.) Costa Rica is loud. There was not one room where I didn’t hear street noise, or people talking, or any other activity people do in their daily lives. It’s as if the walls are made out of cardboard.

27.) My favorite drink in Costa Rica was chocolate milk.

my favorite drink while traveling @Costa Rica

28.) Costa Rica is not cheap at all.

29.) ‘Pura Vida’ is like hello in Costa Rica. But it is so much more than just a greeting. It’s lifestyle and a feeling. I found this explanation in Monteverde.

what ‘Pura Vida’s means @Monteverde

Let me know what you think

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