Tica time, volcanoes, wonderful beaches, and rain every day – hell, it’s the rainy season. Oh, and bring a lot of money. As I crossed the border to Costa Rica, I somehow expected to suddenly be in a far more civilized country than Nicaragua. The difference is not so big, but some little details are significant. My first contact with the people of Costa Rica was at the first gas station. And not with the guy attending it, who couldn’t care less he has customers, but with a friendly guy on a longboard, accompanied by his dog. I saw him dring the tap water from the gas station, so I asked. Looks like Costa Rica is the only country in the area where you can safely drink tap water. Pit stop over, off he goes… and that was probably the 2nd longboard I saw in the whole Central America.
On my way I never met one single person to tell me that Costa Rica is cheap. Even the locals know, and they’re probably proud that their country is more expensive than all around. Sure, you can find cheap stuff, but if you ride or even drive a car, you’ll notice how the gas price is very close to the prices in Europe. No more gas for 0.4Euro/Liter. The street food is missing (no more pupusas, tacos, etc) but you can still find amazing fruits and veggies for stunning prices (I bought 2kg of big, ripe, tasty mangoes for 1USD, or a big papaya for 50cents). Hostels can still be found for 10USD/night, but that’s all about the cheap stuff. The entrance ticket to see a waterfall 12USD – for less than 1h trip. An average meal at the restaurant starts at 6USD if you’re lucky and the restaurant is not a fancy one.
My first night I planned to spend it in the jungle, camping. By the time I got close to the city of “La Fortuna” I was soaking wet and definitely didn’t feel like camping anymore. The first few hostels were fully booked, but I finally found a cheap bed. One hot shower later, I notice the invitation from one of the local bikers, Mauricio, to spend the night at his place. Well, damn, too late! But there’s another night tomorrow. I met him early morning riding his shiny blue BMW1200, and he showed me his fancy hotel and the room he offered me for the night. A room! All for myself. Can’t say how grateful I am for his hospitality and for the good chat we had as I got there. (I am so used to keeping my trip low budget, that I wouldn’t even dare to stop and ask for prices in such a hotel). The next day I met his friend, Danilo, another proud owner of a GS1200. I have to say it – I didn’t notice any of the BMW attitude that’s so characteristic of the European owners. These people were so nice, welcoming, genuine, that made me appreciate the country more. As a side note, all those annoying scooters and mopeds buzzing around everywhere in Nicaragua are now gone! Whatever the reason, I started to see a lot more powerful bikes on the road. And no, it’s not the roads. The roads are terrible -no signals, no paint, several layers of patches one on top of the other making it bumpy and unsafe, and every now and then a bridge comes up – all one-lane and almost no visibility. Worse than the country roads in CZ. Are the worst roads I rode so far here. Even the gravel roads are bad. Uh!
Day 3 in Costa Rica and I manage to succesfully dodge all the expensive tourist attractions and arrive on the farm I am volunteering – http://10degreesbelow.com – 10 degrees below the equator. Yes, that close! The rain falls here pretty much every afternoon and night, easying in my adjusting to “tica time” – the slow way of life of the locals. There’s no broadband internet – just some flaky GSM connection, but the green jungle is teeming with life, and there are so many things to do and plants to discover that I don’t even feel I need the internet. What I need is a pair of good earplugs so I can sleep at night! More about my stay in Costa Rica in the next post.
Whole journey map