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ABOUT COSTA RICA

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COSTA RICA by KRISS on 26 november 2015

ABOUT COSTA RICA So our story began one day in Cannes, France, walking by a travel agency where a beautiful extra colored flyer advertised Costa Rica.
At that time we were about to get out of France which we did a few months later for Spain but Kate had this vivid memory of Costa Rica.
Also families and friends had been there on holidays and told us about the heaven it was ! They all said, if one day you move there, we’ll join you in no time.

But then why didn’t they jump at the opportunity to go there before us, one might have wondered.
But we didn’t.
Instead we decided to go check for ourselves and our story continues one hot summer in south of Spain where we had everything we wanted but were still somehow in a perpetual unsatisfied mood, only partially but the mermaids were singing and their tune caught our attention.

We decided to take our little family for a 3 months trip (the duration of a Visa) to Central America, starting with Costa Rica.
We spent hundreds of hours, together and one besides the other reading all the blogs the world wide web can provide about Costa Rica.

- Blogs from nomad travelers (Nomadic Matt, This American Girl and many others).
- Blogs from families who had moved there (The sundance family, and many others).
- Blogs from individuals who had relocated, or immigrated to Costa Rica (Viva Tropical).
- All there was to read from trip advisor to yahoo questions and answers on the topic of food, prices, safety etc etc.

At the end after having virtually traveled through almost all the countries of Central and South America and East Asia, we still decided to settle for Costa Rica.

At this point I have to stop and ask you readers, if you happen to be in the same spot right now.
If so, keep reading, our experience might actually be of some use to you and offer a more objective point of view on the topic.
We started looking for cheap flights and if you are traveling from the US, well you can thank America for that you will find many but if you are in Europe, prices will be high.
Then we started looking at accommodation, on all possible websites, mostly the big ones though to get a few reviews, so airbnb was the best bet.

We are not very keen on rain, not at all indeed and we wanted to go to the Guanacaste area, north west of Costa Rica because it is dryer and we were travelling during the dry season, European winter.
But we didn’t find anything within our price range, even after enquiring to dozens of lodgers for long terms rentals, even going as far as risking to rent 3 months in a completely unknown place, we didn’t find anything.
So we looked again and read again all the posts and finally, the caribbean coast (Puerto Viejo) became appealing.

Everyone was talking about authenticity, happiness, melting pot of cultures and turquoise waters.
Having been to the Caribbean (Jamaica) it made sense, yes in the Caribbean the sand is white and pristine beaches are turquoise.
We finally found a great accommodation at a reasonable price (though more expensive than we had initially planned) and we booked.
We booked our flights and organized ourselves.

And then one day, we left for Costa Rica and landed in San Jose.
The blogs we had read were not wrong, an ugly city not worth a visit and we just went to the bus station to catch our 4 hours bus to Puerto Viejo.
This turned out to be a 6 hours bus drive.
We arrived at night, knackered of the trip and unable to see where we were.

The next morning we woke up amazed by the nature surrounding us everywhere, this was magical.
The sun was shining as early as 5am in the morning and we headed to the nearest beach.
There were waves and the sand was dark yellow with patches of black.
It was soft and hot though and we had a great time playing with the waves.

I am going to cut the story right there and go straight to the point.
After only a few days in the place, enquiring, walking, cycling, grocery shopping, talking, exploring, this are the truth we discovered :

- The water only is turquoise when the sea is quiet which is march to may it seems, but only then.
The rest of the time it is dark gray, as the sky and the sand is not white.
- The nature truly is everywhere and beautiful, magnificent, but this includes nasty tiny ants that will eat your feet unless you wear a pair of boots I suppose.
- The prices are so high you will think you’ve made a false currency conversion but you will have not.
- You will look for the joyful people with a smile on their faces and you will see lots of american girls and other white boys wearing that smile on their bicycle to the beach.
- However, the locals didn’t inspire me much happiness, and the Pura Vida that came out of their mouth to finish their sentence came out wrong, as a habit, a reflex more than a philosophy, a tourist attraction if you wish.

And who could blame them, the people who shopped in the same supermarkets as me where my numerous bags of groceries piled up at the cashier (we’re 5 and the kids do eat), were rarely buying more than 2 items at a time.
One was buying a couple of eggs, another one a small bottle of oil and a coke, this woman with her young daughter, 2 units of ice cream cones and a bag of rice.
This made me sick to my stomach.
I wasn’t in the right place, not for them and not for me.
I am too poor to help them, already have enough to do to provide for my own family, but here I was a rich man, buying overpriced things I couldn’t afford, but still more than they could.

And then the rain started to fall and it fell hard and it lasted the whole day, not the next but the following day and so passed the days and we noticed that there wasn’t much to do for us, less than we had expected.
No kids to play around at the beach, no parents out with their kids.
People live their lives and you pass them on your way and if you pay close attention you will perceive lots of things but none of them are enjoyment or happiness, except for the tourists.

So we had been told, accommodation would be easier to find once in the country and we had surely decided to spend a few hours each day sending mails and browsing blogs, forums, Facebook to find something on the pacific coast to pursue our adventure in Costa Rica.

But the truth is that the only internet connexion we got was limited to 1go/week not more and the only other option was an unlimited at night from 11pm to 8am.
Considering a family such as us might be sound asleep by 11pm, waking up early around 5am, this gives you about 3 hours to skype, email, work, and look for your next step.

And dear readers, as saddening as it is, the next step might well not be in Costa Rica.
We ended up realizing that trying to get anywhere close out of the country was not only expensive and time consuming (except Panama) but that the lack of accommodation and the doubled prices of groceries at this time of year would be even worse on the other coast.
Actually, flying one way earlier back to the united stated to backpack Florida would even be cheaper !

Once again, we are a family of 5, not an individual or a couple and this reflects highly on our choices, decisions, appreciation of things, prices and costs that apply to us.
But you might be the same as us, a family, reading this blog for advice and that is exactly what we’re trying to do.

Costa Rica is not made for everyone, and unless you have experienced it yourself, don’t believe everything you read, not even me, certainly not me ! My own experience though leaves me to the following conclusion.

Costa Rica is a country where only for a few weeks, life was barely affordable for us, where the weather was depressing because I am used to many more hours of light and sunshine, where my clothes stayed damp all the time, where I saw absolutely no opportunities for any kind of work except hotels, restaurants, but where the competition was already fierce.
I looked behind my shoulder on the roads not to get run over, at the beach, for my kids not to drawn, when I shot a picture, just in case and I didn’t feel free ! On a positive level, this country truly is the wildest part of this planet I have ever been.
This is the jungle everywhere and nature is so beautiful, why did we humans have to take over on this beauty in so many places on our planet ?

You might be a 20 something student reading this post and think what an old git I am, or a local thinking I am too harsh to haven’t experienced enough to properly judge the place.
I plead guilty for both, I might have fell in love with this place when my only purpose in life was to smoke pot all day and listen to reggae music, but this time is now long gone and my preoccupation is my family and it healthy blossoming.
And I disappointedly can’t see that happening here as of now.

Westerners, dreamers, family who had enough of your lives of over consumption, mortgages, iPhones and crap, be objective, think, calm yourselves, take a holiday, explore and see for yourself but Costa Rica might not be the paradise you have been depicted.
Or it might !

.

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