We learned a lot about ourselves on this trip to Costa Rica.
1. Not knowing the language can be a big problem. Having a convincing Spanish accent does not mean you understand or can be understood. Nailing the nouns is one thing. It’s far more important to be able to use and understand the correct adjective and/or adverb. Further, using a sporty iPhone app (jibbigo) to translate from English to Spanish means you’re just another annoying gringo.
2. Not knowing the exchange rate for local currency can be a big problem. Initially, we thought colones and dollars had the same value. Boy did we learn fast. Yes, Costa Ricans are happy to take your American dollars, but that does not mean they have the same value. 1 dollar = 518 colones. We should have done our homework.
3. Not being able to use a credit card can be a big problem. For us. ‘Nuff said. See #2.
4. Not having our own wheels can be a big problem. Without transportation or the cash to pay for transportation, you’re stranded.
5. Not being able to sleep can be a big problem. In Oregon, we live in a house on a very quiet, dead-end cul de sac populated with retirees who turn the lights off by 8 p.m. (as do we). Yes, it’s lovely and sounds romantic to rent a house “on the beach” but this was a beach with a LOT of wave action. As in crashing on the rocks 40 feet from your bed. All the time. Add in the lively cicada population and the 4 a.m. howler monkey patrol and the 12-hour nights become one long slog.
6. There’s nothing wimpy about going to an “all inclusive” resort or joining a tour group. After a year of close-to-home camping and outdoor adventures in Oregon, we thought we were prepared to venture on our own in another country. We were wrong. We scrimped and saved our dwindling supply of cash so that we could afford a decent lunch at two nearby resorts, Lapas Rios and Encanta la Vida during our last two days in Costa Rica. The gorgeous pools, great food, friendly service and ease of communication made us realize how needlessly stressful our vacation had become. When we calculated the cost per night at a resort (including meals, transportation and tours), we would have spent about the same amount of money as we did at Casa Linda.
And most of all, Costa Rica reminded us that there’s no place like home.
That being said, here are some final pictures that celebrate the quiet beauty of Costa Rica: