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*Featured photo courtesy of Grance Dore. All other photos courtesy of Flickr.
5 Things I Discovered in Costa Rica
A summer spent exploring Costa Rica? Perfect. I consulted forums, friends and travel guides, packed my bag and departed. It turned out there is more to Costa Rica than first meets the eye…
As the home of a wealth of nature and wildlife, it should come as no surprise that Costa Rica has made a conscious effort to secure the future of its fragile ecosystems. However, I could not predict the lengths gone by this country to preserve the delicate balance between its people and their surrounding environment.
The progressive attitudes and actions of the Costa Ricans means that they are acutely aware of the impact of their day-to-day activities, and consistently strive to reduce their ecological footprint – whether that be through vigilant recycling, sustainability programs or expansion of wildlife reserves.
Quality of Life
There was no doubt that I would repeatedly hear friendly shouts of ‘Pura Vida’, the favoured greeting in Costa Rica, throughout my time in the country. But what I did not expect to find was that the sentiment behind this phrase, literally translated as ‘pure life’, is something that is deeply rooted within the psyche of the nation.
Costa Rica’s life expectancy and literacy rates are on a par with the USA, meaning that the quality of life here far exceeded my expectations. As a peaceful democratic country, with no standing army to speak of, it should have come as no surprise that positivity radiates from the Costa Ricans – their infectious smiles and laughter touch all who encounter them.
I had seen dozens of picture-postcard perfect images of Costa Rica, but seeing the country’s beauty first-hand exceeded all of my expectations. Hearing howler monkeys chattering away in the trees, seeing forests teeming with colourful birds and brimming with a jaw-dropping array of flowers boggled my mind.
Throughout my time in Costa Rica, I was overwhelmed by its diverse habitats, stunning landscapes and variety of flora and fauna. No camera, picture, or painting can convey the beauty of the country, truly fitting that cliche of ‘it has to be seen to be believed’
I had braced myself to survive off of rice, beans, and avocado whilst traveling through Costa Rica, with many people advising me to quell my appetite in preparation for a country that has a supposedly dull cuisine. But once again, the country surprised me.
Market stalls laden with fruit in a rainbow of hues were to be found in every town, and I gorged myself daily on their sweet treats. Aromatic coffee and rich chocolate were another luxury I discovered during my time in Costa Rica – to sample these goodies so close to where they are produced is a real pleasure.
I knew I would be able to hike, bike, surf, and swim in Costa Rica, but what I did not expect was that there would be opportunity to engage in adventure and exploration in every place that I visited. From rafting to canyoning or ziplining through the clouds over rainforests, the topography of the country permits visitors to take advantage of a huge variety of activities. From the tops of volcanoes to the depths of the forests, I hiked, rafted and swam until I dropped.
About the author: Jennifer Sharratt lives in Berlin and works for GoEuro, a new multi-mode travel search engine. She hopes to return to Costa Rica to learn how to surf and speak Spanish.