Costa Rica Trip Report – Part 1

We returned from our (way too short) trip to Costa Rica on Saturday. But have had no phone or internet since returning, so I’ve been slow to get a blog post together (am stealing an unreliable unsecured wireless signal now).

In short, we loved Costa Rica and will return. Costa Rica was never on my short list of must-see places. I was interested but had heard too much good about it, I smelled a rat, I figured it was over-rated, I figured all those people who were ga-ga about Costa Rica were, you know, brainwashed or something.

Well they weren’t.

When people in Costa Rica ask if you like their country they always continue the question with “do you find Costa Rica to be clean?” We saw almost no litter in Costa Rica. And people there are intensely proud of this fact. Over and over we saw workers picking up garbage, or rather they were walking along looking for the rare piece of garbage to pick up. And everywhere we went we saw recycling bins and trucks loaded with materials to be recycled.

Costa Rica seems to have it’s garbage under control. And the sense of pride about this is palpable. You see poverty there, it’s a poor country. But the people I met were proud of what they do have. And they were proud of their land and their beautiful countryside.

There is a sweetness in Costa Rica that I have only felt in a few places. I’m not sure how to describe it except that I felt that people didn’t have their defenses up somehow. Perhaps this was an artifact of my being relaxed and on vacation, but I don’t think so; I’ve been on vacation in lots of places and never felt this kind of peace in the places I’ve been. I think it’s bigger and I think it’s connected to the fact that Costa Rica abolished it’s army more than 50 years ago. Most people in Costa Rica have grown up having never lived in a country with a military presence. They don’t have enemies and they don’t put up defenses. It’s truly a peaceful country.

That said, we did hear a local say that the Mexican mafia has a presence in Costa Rica and is trying to control the drug trade there. So obviously things in Costa Rica are as complex as anywhere else.

Still I think that the fact that this poor country doesn’t spend money on military must be great for the government’s budget. I can only imagine what good could be accomplished with all the money the US and Mexico spend on their militaries.

One thing I loved about Costa Rica was being in the mountains. I am not a flat-lander by nature and Cancun is difficult for me to live in partly because it’s flat here. We spent 3 days of our trip in the area near Arenal volcano and Fortuna. And the trip up there and back was on windy, hilly, mountainous roads. We loved every minute that we were on those roads. Around every corner was an “oh-my-god-view!” We filled the digital cameras with photos, then deleted as many pix as possible and then filled them again. We simply could not take enough photos.

Below are some photos for you, and I’ve got another batch to share another day. And I will write some more about Costa Rica soon. As they say in Costa Rice “pura vida.”

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Inside the cathedral in San Ramon

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Tire Toucan painted by the Artisan of the Zone: Erian

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The view from our hotel room: Arenal Volcano

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Orchids near our hotel

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A Hanging Bridge

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3 Responses to “Costa Rica Trip Report – Part 1”

  1. CancunCanuck
    September 23rd, 2008 18:19

    Wow, looks and sounds fantastic Rivergirl!! Definitely near the top of my list!

  2. islagringo
    September 28th, 2008 07:39

    First, welcome back! I backpacked for 2 weeks in Costa Rica in 2005. It was a tremendous experience. I actually considered moving there at one point. You are right. The people (outside of San Jose!) are genuinely nice.

  3. Michele in Playa
    September 28th, 2008 21:22

    Well, it wasn’t on my short list either but it is quickly climbing. I can’t believe how beautiful CR is!!

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