Taking a vacation by yourself is not something a lot of people do. I’ve always been interested in visiting other countries and experiencing different cultures. As a grown up there are always many obstacles that stop you from taking that perfect vacation whether it’s money, time, responsibilities or coordinating other schedules. Last month, I embarked on a solo adventure.I came across this great deal that was so good I needed to prove it was a scam only to realize it wasn’t. So I bought the tickets, expedited my passport and figured I have the time, money and freedom so why not?
My first night in Costa Rica, I decided to stay close by the beach and relax and explore that town and then start my road trip towards the Highlands. The next morning there was a gecko in my room above my bed post. I was up by 7:30 am, no alarm needed, and I casually looked around because for a split second, I almost forgot where I was. I woke up to the sound of the waves and couldn’t wait to try the coffee there, before my swim. How have I never done this before?
This part of the country consists of a few winding roads and a handful of open-air bars and restaurants. There are no traffic lights though I had to stop a few times for monkeys and roaming cows crossing the road. No chain stores. Limited WiFi. People drive beat-up ATV or Jeeps because no one cares what kind of car you drive and hitchhiking is common. The locals are friendly. There are no addresses here; typical directions to someone’s house were along the lines of “take a right at the big mango tree, drive 500 meters past the gated house with the pink roses, I live in the greenhouse.”
Rincon De La Vieja
I had a few places I knew I had to visit, and Rio Celeste was one of those places. This bright blue river that runs inside the rain forest of Tenorio Volcano Park was my main reason for visiting Costa Rica. The Rio Celeste gets its baby blue hue from a natural chemical reaction that occurs between minerals in this volcano-rich region. According to the local legend, after God finished painting the sky, He decided to wash His brushes in these waters and that’s why it has the sky blue color. I like this theory much better.
I read about this small town called La Fortuna, with the volcano right in the center of it. The more I read about it, the more intrigued I was. I stayed here for two days. This charming little town was my favorite out of all the towns I visited, and I had so many amazing experiences there. It’s home to one of the most famous volcanoes in Costa Rica, the Arenal Volcano, which you can see from any vantage point on a sunny day. What drew me to this town was the history behind it.
The pioneers who settled here referred to the volcano as a mountain, because it was assumed to be dead. Four small towns grew around the volcano. In 1968, Arenal erupted, killing 87 and totally destroying 3 towns. The surviving town of El Borio was renamed La Fortuna (The Fortunate). In 2010 Arenal Volcano finally became dormant again, attracting tourists from all over the world.
About an hour north of La Fortuna, I found the Maleku Tribe, an indigenous tribe in the town of Guatuso. About 600 people live on the reserve, and some of them invited me in and told me a little bit about their culture and traditions. They even spoke to me in their native language, Maleku. I learned about their fire in the middle of the tent. It provides heat, and the flames protects them and their house from destruction, so they keep it burning always. They showed me their art: carvings, paintings, and hand carved masks, which their economy primarily relies on.
Llanos De Cortés
On my way to my next destination, I read about the Catarata Llanos de Cortes Waterfall in the Guanacaste region. Since I was passing through there on the way to my next destination, I knew I had to see it for myself.
Laguna De Arenal
Hitchhiker on my way to Tamarindo.
I spent my life staring at TV screens, laptops and smartphones. Hell, I can’t even go to sleep without the sound of the TV in the background. I felt stressed, uninspired, and disconnected. I wasn’t living in the moment. It seemed I had to travel halfway around the world to find inspiration. Usually when I purchase something impulsively, it’s electronics, not a destination, but it was definitely worth it. I have memories to last a lifetime, and I’ve only just begun to feed my curiosity the way I want to. Some advice i can offer would be to, Do your research. Make the best of your time there by planning ahead. And most definitely do things you wouldn’t do at home, get out of your comfort zone. I’m already thinking about my next destination.