I remember nearly fifteen years ago hearing about this enchanting destination where the palm trees danced next to clean azul waves and monkeys were your friendly neighbors …the jungles of Costa Rica. It had been a dream destination I thought someday just someday I hoped I’d be lucky enough to experience.
Nine years later I had finally taken a leave of absence from my job for 2.5 months. I traded in my heels and the concrete jungle for my flip flops in the real jungle. Living in NYC for tens years I was inclined to scout out the smallest hippy towns in search of real people, tons of nature, and weed. I chose to travel alone so I could write, enjoy the peace of my own company, and no one could witness my freak outs to insanely humongous insects in my cabin. I’d have the opportunity to mingle and meet new like minded people… including my husband!
My first trip was surreal. It was exactly the adventure I needed as a 28 year old single gal living in NYC for eight years. It re-balanced my perception of what was important and not quite so much in life. By the end of my trip I had fallen in love with Costa Rica and was starting to fall harder for my never ending fling. FYI travel insurance doesn’t cover broken hearts. We married a year later 🙂
It has been 7 years since I first learned to surf on Cocoles Beach in Puerto Viejo.
Saw my first terrifying Brazilian Wandering spider in my jungle cabin.
And jumped off the adrenaline inducing Montezuma waterfall.
I’ve been lucky enough to go back to my paradise haven every year since my first visit. While some trips last eight weeks and others fly by quicker for short pop ins, one thing still remains, I don’t have the 7 year itch!
Sure I travel to other places, I’m not just stuck in Pura Vida land. Barcelona is full of color and life. Great food and wine and the locals are beyond hospitable.
China is a neat destination. You feel as if you are thousands of miles away…because you are.
One cannot beat the pristine aqua beaches of St. John. The natural backdrop of the parks are incredible.
Yet Costa Rica satisfies all my wanderlust needs. The air is clean and the humidity gives me the perfect volume and curls. I instantly morph into a jungle goddess.
The water is warm enough for splashing, yet refreshing from the heat.
The locals are so humble, hardworking, and kind. I’ve safely hitchhiked, and even had help when my bike was stolen from a local thief. Yes it happens, and I got my bike back after 5 locals with machetes ran around in search of my bike. While crime does happen I always bring an extra dose of street smart and I’ve always managed to get along just fine. I feel safer in Costa Rica than I do some parts of the US and other destinations I’ve been too.
It is a melting pot of culture and stories. Expats from around the world migrate here and it is no secret why. It can be as unpredictable as I want, yet I have the ease and comfort of knowing which bus I’ll hop on to get to a beach town. What is a good and cheap soda shop for lunch, and what beaches are safer to swim.
I love not being confined to a resort. Don’t get me wrong being pampered in a high end resort with great food, wine, and room service can be very relaxing, but three days is my limit.
I want to run free down a deserted beach.
Watch the sunset fall into the ocean alone with the one I love.
Sing in the jungle with no one but a few sloths to judge.
Drive down dusty roads and maybe even get lost, knowing I will eventually find my way back home.
Kiss a wild horse that acknowledges I’m one of her kind.
Eat eclectic local food at restaurants with some of the most talented creative chefs from around the world.
I enjoy finding random new beaches and house parties, possibly making new life long friends.
I fall asleep knowing I’d love to do it all over again.
There are times when I go back and I get a bit jaded at my soulful towns. Why did the food prices go up again? These are big city prices in a third world country. Yes I’ve been to this beach many times before …am I possibly missing more?
Locals start to know me, do they think it’s kind of weird? I’m so damn predictable I come here every year!
Sometimes I leave saying I think I’m over Costa Rica. I don’t want to go back for awhile. It’s like an old relationship I’m just not excited anymore. There has to be somewhere greener, better beaches, more stores. Later I do my research on the places I must go. Kauai, Tuscany, Cambodia, the Azores, New Zealand, even some mountains with snow.
But those places seem like vacations to me, exciting and unknown. Lots of planning and money, what if I end up wishing I was back home?
Then I get the nudge Costa Rica is begging me to return. It’s like a warm and fuzzy feeling from someone you’ve known for a long time. It doesn’t feel as much as a vacation as I place I call my second home. And while I might explore new destinations and even skip a few years visit, I know Costa Rica is a place I will always return to because the grass is greener there in every single way.
The surfers are not competitive and let beginners have a good wave.
The local food is healthy and fresh. After eating clean for a week I feel my best.
I look forward to returning in my old age to my favorite beach, and looking back at all the memories and adventures I had there as if they were at arms reach.
No other place can fulfill my mind, body, and soul the way Costa Rica has and always will. Pura Vida!