Better late than never! This post begins my consistent additions to my blog, covering Daniel (then boyfriend, now husband) and my's stay in Costa Rica, spending a total of three months the first time around, from October to December 2019. Before I get into the details of our first location, Playas del Coco, here's our general itinerary.
October 1-31st, Playas del Coco. Flew from Portland to Liberia, then got a ride to the coast.
November 1 - December 11th, Puerto Veijo
Here's a map of Costa Rica, for reference.
That actually looks like much more of a journey than it was. Remember the country of Costa Rica is about the size of Rhode Island.
Playas del Coco is the smaller, beach area of the city of Coco. Surprisingly, this was one of the few areas of Costa Rica that didn't have sprawling coconut trees. We actually stayed in an even smaller part of Playas del Coco called Ocotal. We booked a condo for a month on Booking.com and communicated with the host over email about our Internet quality needs.
(Side note: At this time Daniel was working for DaDaABC, an online ESL company, planning to work most mornings from 6 am to 9 am, CR time. I had taken a leap of faith that I would be able to sign on with a company and had just quit my job entirely, charging all the flights and travel costs on credit.)
On the plane we happened to be sitting next to a very nice older man who we started talking with. He was visiting his son who had moved out there and was house sitting or surfing or something-or-other. We originally were going to take the bus from the Liberia airport, but this guy offered us a ride, and since I actually caught him reading the Book of Mormon (I was raised Mormon, no longer identify with but could tell this guy was genuinely nice), we took him up on his offer. This made it so much easier than figuring out the bus system, which lives up to its reputation as unpredictable (see my post about Travelling Coast-to-Coast in Costa Rica). We also had a great chat with the guy, and he gave us his number in case w needed help.
The first night we had booked were at a hostel slightly outside of town. We did this because we realized it was a lot cheaper to fly in one day earlier than we had the condo booked, but the host wanted to charge us the nightly rate to extend it. The hostel was only about $20, and they also had sufficient internet. Daniel actually set up his teaching station and taught outside as the sun was rising! The hostel was a shared space and we met an Argentinian and spent the night chatting with him and the hostel managers, a really nice couple from Mexico city. We mainly spoke Spanglish and really had a good time getting to know them. There was a lot of friendly vibes, they offered us food and beer, and we were playing with these wild raccoons that were around. There was also a nice pool at the hostel and free breakfast with gallo pinto in the morning (beans and rice). A lot more beans and rice to come.
I will say at this point, and probably revisit many times, that speaking Spanish on any level is extremely helpful when visiting a Latin American country. Yes, there are many people who speak English and you can probably get by, but as you will see, it makes a huge difference in the opportunities you can have.
For example, not getting screwed by taxistas. For another example, a lot of the renters speak only Spanish, and it can be quite confusing to not understand everyone around you. If you only speak English and refuse to try to learn enough Spanish to at least ask basic questions and comprehend simple answers, then you're doomed to all the tourist traps and will end up spending many times over the amount you otherwise could have.
We got in contact with our host who was able to pick us up with a friend who was a taxista. I think the ride was about $20 which we later realized was way too much but we were grateful nonetheless. She knew a lot of people in town and also got us hooked up with some bicycle rentals after dropping our luggage off.
This essentially covers the story of our arrival in Costa Rica. All in all, we were met with very promising gestures of friendship and any unease originally felt from "leaving it all behind" dissolved as soon as we stepped off the plane. At no point did we feel unsafe or uncertain. Read my next post to see how our time in stop 1 - Playas del Coco fared overall!