Costa Rica has never been high on my list. I don’t know why. I’ve never met a traveler who didn’t like it there, and I’ve read nothing but great things. Yet, with every mention of hiking a volcano or hanging out in a cloud forest or spending time with sloths, it never pulled me the way other countries have, where often only one photo or one comment can make my heart flutter a few beats before I instantly begin dreaming of my adventures-to-come (the way Iceland, New Zealand and Patagonia do…).
But when my long-time trusted TEFL partner expanded their course outreach to both Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and thus my business expanded with them, I dove head first into researching these Central American neighbors.
Did you know that Costa Rica hasn’t had a military since 1949? Or that it is considered one of the “greenest” countries in the world, thanks to their environmental protection practices? Or that 25% of the country is made up of protected areas and national parks, and 5% of the entire world’s biodiversity can be found there?
Amazing, right? I finally booked a ticket to go see for myself. And now, I’m incredibly excited.
I’ll be spending a few days visiting my partner TEFL agency, and exploring the surroundings of San Jose. Then, two of my best friends will fly in to meet me, and we’ll head south to Puerto Viejo, on Costa Rica’s Caribbean side, where we’ll meet my sister who’s been traveling there for a few months already. The four of us will bring in my 30th birthday in beach bum style, surely with a little adventure thrown in, and then we’ll hop a water taxi down to Bocas del Toro, perhaps better known as Panama’s Velcro Islands (because many people “stick” there and never want to leave). Later, my sister and I will spend a couple weeks on the Pacific side of Costa Rica (it’s only 200 miles from shore to shore!), in a quaint surf town called Playa Samara. There will probably be a lot of relaxing, yoga, reading, beaching, and some work, too.
On the final day of April (which is shaping up to be an amazing birth
dayMONTH), we’ll catch a shuttle north, to check out the much quieter, much more laid back, and much more traditional Nicaragua.
Now, when I talk about places that suck me in from just one mention, Nicaragua is definitely one. I’m beyond excited to get there, where streets don’t have names and houses don’t have numbers. Directions are more like “turn left at the yellow house on the corner,” and that’s just fine with me. Also, Nicaragua has a lake that is nearly 400 square miles, with islands in the middle and bull sharks swimming in its fresh water; the only freshwater lake in the world to house sharks. I HAVE to see that. I’ll slowly explore from south to north, as I make my way to Leon, where I’ll visit another TEFL partner agency.
And that’s where the plan stops.
If after Leon I’ve had enough of Central America (or I miss my dog too much), I’ll hop a flight home. If not, I just might stay put in Nicaragua, or continue heading north, to El Salvador and Guatemala…perhaps back to Central Mexico, from where I left prematurely last summer and have been yearning to go back.
I just don’t know what I’ll do, and that’s exactly how I like it.
That’s the beauty of (my noncommittal) life as I know it.
Have you been to Central America? If so, what/where do you recommend I go? Leave me a comment below!