“GO TO NICARAGUA INSTEAD,” is usually what I heard from friends who are on the same sort of world travel program that I am, generally for heavy waves.
But at the same time I would also hear about “the welcoming locals,” and people really enjoying themselves, and the incredible beauty, and usually when you hear positives on a mass level, it’s because there are cool elements.
I had this two-week time frame laid out kind of because my girlfriend and her vacation break, but also because I was ready to pack the bags and make a move to some warm waters. We had criteria of warmth, jungles, animals, and waves. Tahiti, Fiji, Indo, Central America, Ecuador, and the Caribbean were all on the list. A solid string of swells heading toward Central America and not any of these other places put Costa Rica in the headlights, so I made the plans.
It seemed like the right time to finally go there, and not saying I didn’t want adventure, but ease of travel sounded appealing during this kind of short time frame. Also, Easter plane ticket prices were ridiculous to the point Costa was the only place I didn’t feel completely bent over buying a flight to.
We did have one incident down on the Osa Peninsula. We were staying at a guesthouse in an area where most properties have a rental cabana or two on them, in the ultra thick jungle. It’s usually dead quiet out there, just the jungle noises.
Not this night though. It was our first night there and on the property next to us, about 200 feet away in a guesthouse we couldn’t see because of the jungle thickness, there was a small crew of Costa Ricans raging. They were partying hard, had to have been up on the coke, and turned this quiet jungle into a rave zone with their sound system, absolutely blasting music into the late late hours, yelling and screaming. It was lame.
It had been going on for hours… then there was a loud argument, followed closely by a single gunshot. After which it quieted down. This is an area with very few people around so it was pretty sketchy. I don’t know what happened, but there was nothing to do but try and sleep, keep an ear open and a crude weapon nearby.
I saw them the next day and these guys looked scary, pale with bloodshot eyes after a long night on drugs and booze. Dark energy. We went and found a spot a mile away so we didn’t have to be around that again and the rest of our stay there was epic.
All in all Costa Rica is what you make of it I figure, as with any place. Sure, tourism has taken its toll; lots of things are catered for the gringos in areas making it really expensive for Central America. Petty theft is a pain in the ass, to the point you can’t leave anything in a car or on the beach lots of places.
But get out of these hubs and there is pristine nature, waves, plenty of friendly people, Pura Vida.