Pura Vida! The pure life – you can hear this saying in many different situations. For instance to welcome each other, to agree with somebody or just with no reason. It is like the life motto of the inhabitants. The same happens to us, we fully adapt their lifestyle and enjoy Costa Rica with every inch. And because it is damn hot and we rather like swimming in the water, we didn’t write a lot but instead show you more pictures!
We stay in Costa Rica for 12 wonderful and unforgettable days – the most beautiful country in central America. At least that’s what the inhabitants say. Costa Rica is also called „Switzerland of central America“. And after a short while we know why: it is more expensive than we thought which doesn’t really match with our plan to save some money. But we will see…
We are starting our tour in Costa Rica’s capital: San José. In the beginning two taxi driver are fighting to get us in their car, they are even hitting each other – that is an intense welcoming. We don’t expect anything from San José because a lot of people told us that the city isn’t nice. And we have to say they were right! Although we enjoy a good start at our airbnb-apartment „Casa 69“. We get the biggest and nicest room of the hotel with two king size beds – each for one of us 😉
After having a typical Costa Rican meal (which is made of rice and beans, called „Gallo Pinto“) we decide to move on. Our next stop is La Fortuna. Hours and hours we drive along curvy and steep hills with beautiful views in a public bus. The streets are a bit different to the ones we are used at home, mainly we have to deal with unpaved roads. Our driver doesn’t care much and drives as fast as possible. We wonder that the buses and the tires don’t get damaged. That’s how bus riding in Costa Rica works! At one point we stop and the driver refills the tires with air. At least! We are a little bit paranoid when it comes to our luggage, especially when the bus stops – too often people told us to have an eye on our belongings otherwise they get stolen. Nothing happened so far, but we are still cautious.
La Fortuna became a nice, touristic village in the 60s. During an eruption in 1968 the volcano „Arenal“ destroyed everything around him despite the village La Fortuna. That’s why they call it “luck”. No doubt they have been lucky. Every tourist interested in the volcanic areas stops here. We also are lucky and stay in the so called „Indian Guesthouse“ (again booked via airbnb) which we have completly for ourselves – thanks to the low season.
In the early morning we meet our young and inspiring tourguide to climb the inactive volcano Cerro Chato, right next to Arenal.
To climb Arenal is forbidden and they even spread the story that once you are up there you will inhale toxic gases which will kill you. It is a lie but it’s still not a good idea to climb up there if you are not born in La Fortuna and know the region very well. Cerro Chato is very special, because there is a lake on top und you even can swim in the crater – exciting! The trail is very steep, challenging and exhausting. And don’t forget, you are in the middle in the jungle with very high humidity which makes it even more exhausting. We prepare our backpacks and put on our hiking shoes. You think this is a normal thing to do? Not for one Mexican girl who joins our group and thinks we are going shopping today. She brings her stylish fake handbag, wears her canvas shoes and the bottle of water she just holds in her hand (because it doesn’t fit in her handbag). I wonder what she is even carrying in there since she never opened it. First she is holding the handbag very ladylike on her wrist, but a few hours later she wears it like a backpack and is full of mud
A lot of roots, lianas and mud later we reach the top of Cerro Chato and are totally overwhelmed. How often do you swim in a crater? It definitely became our highlight in Costa Rica! We are still very lucky in La Fortuna and belong to the 10% of people who can see the volcano Arenal without clouds and fog. Yeah!
But the day is not over yet and after walking down the volcano, we reach a waterfall and enjoy again a great view to Arenal. Slowly the sun disappears and we reach the famous hot springs with their 42 degrees of volcano water when it is finally dark. Another unique moment we enjoy a lot, especially when they even serve us a nice cocktail. We could stay forever, but the next day we move on to Monteverde. Monteverde is famous for its exotic wildlife and because these animals are night active, we adapt their lifestyle and wait till it gets 8pm. And guess what, although it’s raining cats and dogs we spot them all: Sloths, snakes, frogs, tarantulas and many more…
In the morning we have an appointment with Marie, a French girl we met in La Fortuna. Two other people she knows from her hostel joining us on our hike through Santa Elena Cloud Forest. Sacha from Quebec City and Anne from Cleveland.
Sacha is a such a funny and lovely person, that’s why we decide travelling with him for a while. Unfortunately Marie has to go back to France, work is calling. Sasha is on the road since four months. He hitchhiked all the way from the east of Canada to the west of the U.S., was camping in the wilderness or did Couchsurfing. He tries to spend as less money as possible which helps us save some money as long we are on his side. Tobi and Sacha become the perfect negotiation couple and always get the best prices for rooms and tours.
We find a wonderful place to stay in the next city Jacó. It is a nice hostel in the centre, very close to the beach and we book a room with three beds – obviously for a good price. In the early morning we go running on the beach, later we rent a surfboard and Sacha teaches us the basics in surfing. We are semi-successful in it, but the surf virus definitely gets us!
We do Acro Yoga on the beach, a wave-jumping-workout, prepare pasta together and just enjoy life. On our last day in Jacó we figure out that the hostel has his own coffee roasting facility in the backyard. It is a business run by one family (hostel, coffee roasting and a cafeteria). In the cafeteria we drink the very best coffee of Costa Rica, prepared with lots of love and it even is a little piece of art.
We head on to Manuel Antonio and its national park, which is supposed to be incredible, as people tell us everywhere. The variety of animals must be awesome. The three of us go there and in the bus we meet another Canadian Citizen, she is lovely and decides to come with us. Canadians chasing us everywhere! We get to a hostel, run by a German in his 40ies and Tobias and Sacha try once again to negotiate. But this time they aren’t lucky – no chance with the stubborn German. He is not willing to give a good price, although we lived in his home country for so many years.
Again, we have a great time in the national park – it actually helped a lot that we decided the day before to shut up during the hike, so we don’t scare the animals and see as many as possible. And it worked out: we see snakes, monkeys, racoons and many little other animals. One thing you recognize very quickly while travelling as a backpacker is the fact that you meet a lot of people again and again. Suddenly we meet Chile and Switzerland again, a nice couple we met during a bus ride. Nicolas (Chile) and Anita (Switzerland) are standing in front of a sign, in the middle of the park. The silence is finally over and we walk in a group of six people, obviously talking a lot.
Amazing beaches and tons of various animals – the Manuel Antonio National Park is worth a visit!
The next day we are pissed off about the smell in our hostel and move on to the next city Quebos, where Nicolas and Anita found their accommodation. Their hostel has a pool and it feels like pure luxury to us – and all this for just 11$ per night!
After 10 days at the Pacific coast we finally want to see the Caribbean coast in the north and feel the special flair in that area. Indeed, in Puerto Viejo we recognize that people are different. Reggae-Music everywhere and veeeery relaaaaaxed people. A room with 5 beds will be our base for the next days. We rent bikes and ride along the coast, from beach to beach.
In a nice and professional looking bakery we buy a lot of salty and sweat deliciousness for our breakfast which we decide to eat it on the beach with a nice view on the ocean. The first bites of our “empanada con carne” are pretty good till we realize that there is something moving inside. Baaahhhh – little white worms are crawling around!!! This is so disgusting, after spitting it into the sand this is it, definitely no romantic breakfast on the beach Expulsion always helps, so we forget about it during the day and keep on enjoying the turquois water! But at night our stomach is out of control – the first time we feel really bad.
But shit happens and we already have plans for the next day: Crossing the boarder to…Panama!! Here we come!