Some observations on Costa Rica
. First, Costa Rica gets a sizeable portion of it income from tourism
(followed my agricultural and electronics exports). As a result the entire nation is geared toward tourism. Many people bilingual (English and Spanish) and those who aren’t, are happy to trade bits of their Spanish for bits of your English. Additionally, since 1949 when Costa Rica disbanded its military it has been largely unaffected by the civil strife that has enveloped many other Latin American countries. This has additionally strengthened Costa Rica’s robust economy, the strongest in Central America. US dollars are accepted most places without a second glance at close to the exchange rate, change is usually in Costa Rican Colones
. Along with an emphasis on education (compulsory and free) Costa Rica has been able to devleop into a stable, peaceful, democracy. As such it is an ideal place to travel for tourist who are new to travel or simply prefer a less rough experience. Additionally, Over 25% of Costa Rica is composed of protected forests and reserves making it a significant destination for eco-tourist.
Costa Rica boasts two temperatures, warm and hot. The cabana we stayed in didn’t even stock blankets. While it rains nearly everyday during the wet season, the temperatures still hold in the 70-80 range due to it’s location near the equator.
We stayed in Tamarindo
on the Pacific side, which was, until the movies Endless Summer and Endless Summer II affected it’s growth, a sleepy fishing village. Now it is an international surf destination due to it consistent and long, left and right breaks. While the waves are not sizable their consistency and length makes them ideal for beginners or those wishing to learn to surf. According to Harry
, the owner of the Cabana where we stayed, the towns population is roughly 800, though the Liberia airport (the nearest international airport roughly one hour away) serves 40,000 people a year, a sizeable portion of which travel to Tamarindo and its environs.
An interesting side note is when speaking with Harry I noted that the streets in Tamarindo (largely unpaved) didn’t seemed to have any street signs. I wondered how mail was delivered with a lack of both street names and addresses. Apparently the postman simply memorized where everyone lived. Harry said that the postman would sometimes drop mail off with you if he saw you in a street or at breakfast.
Tamarindo is nestled between two national parks, one of which, the Las Baulas National Park is where leatherback sea turtles go lay eggs and where Jackie volunteered to help and protect them during this last egg laying season.
Visiting during the dry season meant that there was a lot less animal life present. I saw iguanas, Howler monkeys
sleeping on a tree in the distances, geckos
(which incidentally produce a sound that seems to mimic bird calls. I spent may an hour looking for a bird in my room before someone let me in on the secret), large insects including a spider
whose body was the size of a bouncey ball, two inch grasshoppers
, and a stick bug
which seriously looks like a stick, and a scorpion.
The food in Tamarindo is heavily influenced by it's history of a fishing village. Rice is server with nearly every meal, beans (universally black beans) are served less so. Chicken and beef and pork are available. I have to take a moment and HIGHLY recommend their fruit drinks
. The concoctions consist of some sort of fruit (papaya, banana, guava, pineapple, etc) either with milk (con leche) or with blended ice water (en agua), They run about $2 and I had at least five a day. I’d have more but I heard too much fruit consumption leads to the runs, which really, in retrospect, would have been worth it. All the fruit is hand cut when you order the drink so it is very fresh. Incedentally, the water in Tamarindo (and most of Costa Rica) is safe to drink.
Price wise the, you can find a place for ~$25 a right. Prices move up for luxury hotels like the Best Western (I'm not making this up) and down for various hostels, from there. Meals seemed to be the most expensive running from $6-8 for breakfast to $10-15 for dinner. In fairness we weren’t try to live frugally. Internet access is wildly available at various internet cafes. The flight was about $600. A bus ride from the airport runs $15. Zip line tours were $50+. Various other tours (volcano, scuba, surf tours by boat, etc) were similarly priced.
Most of our days were spent, sleeping, eating, surfing, napping, swimming in pools, reading, and surfing as god intended.