My first travelling experience.........

Costa Rica Travel Blog

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Now, when i say this was my frist travelling experince, i dont mean it literally as i have been on holiday many times before to various places around the world. However this was my first time travelling alone without any idea of what i was going to do when i arrived.

Originally i chose Costa Rica as a place to visit to do some conservation work for charity, working with Leatherback Sea Turtles in the Osa Peninsula. However the charity sent me to the wrong part of the island and unfortunately the Turtle season was finished and there was not any work to be done. This meant my plans for the month went out of the window and i had to make it up as i went along, so to speak.

I started in Escazu and was lucky enough to be able to stay with a local family (Rosa and Carlos) who put me up for a few days, this allowed me to look at maps, read some rough guides and lonely planets, and plan some travelling. The family i stayed with were amazing and although they had only just met me, they made me feel right at home. Communication was sometimes difficult as i spoke very little Spanish (i did progress throughout my journey) and they spoke very little English. They showed me their local area of Escazu, which is a small town on the outskirts of San Jose, the capital. Escazu is a lovely town, some parts are quite run down though and, although i did, i wouldnt recommend walking around the streets after dark if you are alone (i would say that this goes for most places around the world though, if you're alone). Escazu is surrounded by mountains and from the top of them you have a great view of San Jose. I travelled to Costa Rica in November which means the country is on the change from 'wet season' to 'dry season' which in turn means overcast, humid weather with heavy downpours of rain a common thing. This came into play one day when Rosa And Carlos asked me if i would like to go for a walk, naturally i jumped at the chance to see the local sights, I put my flip flops on, grabbed my camera and set off. Unbeknown to me they were to take me up a mountain, and once up at the top the rain started to pour and i had to come down barefoot due to the rain making the ground completely saturated and impossible to walk on in flip flops!

After Escazu I travelled to Tortuguero, on the Eastern Coast of the country. It is one of the most amazing places i have ever been to in the world. I stayed here in a wooden hut in the middle of the Parque Nacional Tortuguero, accessible only by a bone rattling car journey down long, rocky roads along side the vast Banana plantations, and then a long river boat journey down the canals of Tortuguero. Absolutely amazing! There was hundreds of species of wildlife i have never seen before along this canal, it couldnt have been better!
I wouldnt Recommend staying here for much more than a few days or a week as it is so remote and although there is plenty to see in the area, it doesnt allow you to access any other areas easily, you basically have to go back down the canals by boat and take the long journey back by car to get to the nearest town of Batan if you want to do anything.

If there is one draw back to travelling around Costa Rica it is that you have to return to the capital city everytime you wish to go somewhere different. There are no trains in Costa Rica and Buses seem to run solely to San Jose, meaning you cant really travel from A to B, you have to go from A to San Jose, and then From San Jose to B. In turn this leads to long days spent on cramped buses with no air conditioning. But seeing the country this way is definately worth the discomfort!

I then travelled to the other side of the country (with a one night stay over back in Rosa and Cralos's house) to San Isidro, Liberia, Playa Del Coco, and Playa Hermosa.

San Isidro is good for one night stay overs to break up long bus journeys but to be honest, theres not that much to see here and it was a little too "built Up" for my liking. McDonalds Restaurants and Busy roads are not really what you go to Costa Rica for! I dont remember the name of the Hostel i stayed in here but i remember it being extremely cheap, i think it was 4000 Colones per night which was 4 pounds at the time. One thing i do remember from the hostel was the shower in my room, i had read about the "hot" showers in Costa Rica before i went there. They basically are the a shower head with some sort of electrical contraption strapped to it (essentially they run water over a light bulb element to heat it up) There was wires sticking out all over the place which does nothing for your confidence and then, quite unsuprisingly, you get an electric shock when your head touches the element! This was a re-occuring problem for me everywhere i went as im 6ft 4 and the showers never seem to be any higher than 5ft 5! Luckily its only a small shock and they dont seem to have casued any lasting damage!

After spending the night in San Isidro i headed to Playa Del Coco. This was a nice place, the beach here was amazing and i got to see a baby sea turtle scurrying along the beach to find the sea which was great. I stayed here for 2 nights, i enjoyed it alot here. There was plenty to see, lots of little local shops selling souvineer type gifts and plenty of nice places to eat. There are lots of Scuba Diving schools here which look great, regretably i didnt get chance to get on a course as i just didnt have time! The downfall of Del Coco was its level of poverty, there was lots of homeless people who beg in the streets and live on the beach. Sometimes these can cause a bit of concern as they dont seem to like to take no for an answer and they can become quite intimidating, however i didnt run into any problems regarding this. Overall i enjoyed this place alot!

Next was Playa hermosa, which if i remember rightly translates to beautiful beach (i think). This was a very nice place indeed. It was actually very similar to Del Coco but much more remote, I saw very few other travellers here. I also stayed here for 2 nights, one of which was rather exciting as there was an earthquake! the first earthquake ive ever been in so naturally it was a bit unsettling, but there wasnt too much damage done and i guess its a story to tell for when people ask about my trip! Hermosa is a small place but the Sodas here were great and the sea food was fantastic (sodas are like little cafes, some are amazing, some are not so good)

One of my next stops was Uvita, I loved it here! this was another extremely remote place! I sat on a bus for a long time to get here and wasnt disappointed when i arrived. The bus driver put me up in a little cabin he owned which was perfect and i spent the 2 days i was here on the beach. There is a national park here which you have to pay to enter (it wasnt much though) and then you basically have the place to yourself. On the beach there is a "whale tail" where part of the beach stretches out into the sea in the shape of a whales tail, this means that when you walk to the edge of it you have the tide coming in on all sides, its a strange sight which is hard to describe! I would definately recommend this place to anybody visiting Costa Rica!

Up the road from Uvita is a place called Dominical, This is a favorite for american surfers as the waves here lend themselves extremely well to the sport. This was one of the busiest places i had visited outside of the capital, it was buzzing with travellers, holiday makers and locals, all seeking good times, good food and good surfing! Dominical is made up of one road really, with all of the hostels, bars and cafes along side it. I only stayed here for one night but i wish i had of stayed longer, i enjoyed the atmosphere here in the night and the views out across the sea in the day time were breath taking. Definately worth a visit!

Last but not least, the capital, San Jose! I loved it here although it certainly will not be to everybodys taste! It is probably one of the busiest cities i have ever visited, and its HUGE! It can be a nightmare to find your way around the city (i got quite good eventually though due to the fact that, as mentioned at the begining of this blog, you have to travel back through here to get anywhere) but its an exciting city and i often think the best way to see a place is to get lost there! You have to be careful here and keep your witts about you at all times as street robberies and bag snatches are common! There are plenty of places to stay in the capital and if you are feeling a bit flush, there are some very nice hotels! I found i got hassled a lot here, there are sometimes 3 or 4 people stood outside shops and they will constantly pester you to go in and spend your money! In the city prices are not that cheap and you can often feel pressured into buying things! There are lots of street performers here which can be very entertaining and it is certainly worth a visit! I was lucky enough to be there for the Festival De La Luz (Festival of Light) which is an anual event which takes place in the heart of San Jose. It is slightly similar to Bon fire night in england , but there is a parade through the streets and lots of fire works, bands, floats, motorcylce stunts, and street performers! It was a great night, however i would be careful on this night with valuables . I was warned a few times to be careful with my camera by friendly locals, who informed me that there are alot of street robberies on tourists on this particular night.

Im sure I have missed alot out in this blog, i would be writing for days if i was to include every place i stayed and everything i did in this beautiful country! What i will say though, is that i had the time of my life on this trip and i would go back tommorow if i was given the chance. There is alot to see and do here, especially for a relatively small country and im sure i only did a small fraction of it!

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1,355 km (842 miles) traveled
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