Category Archives: Costa Rica

Tortuguero, Costa Rica

PREFACE: Honestly, I have no idea how this happened. It´s June and the last time I posted was MONTHS ago. I keep thinking about posting, but the reality of not having my own computer or even tablet (which I did have when I was posting regularly and is now, um, broken) makes it really kind of difficult. But, I want to do better, and so this post re-starts what I can almost promise will be more regular updates. Because I missed so much in between, I may also fill in with some older stuff from the last few months.

So, let´s talk about Costa Rica! Everyone loves this place and for good reason; its gorgeous! However, I have two main complaints that seem to be mirrored by backpackers in general- 1) It is expensive! For me this was definitely true. Having spent the last few weeks in Nicaragua, Costa Rica was a slap in the face. Money just doesn´t stretch as far, with as little effort, as it does elsewhere. However, if you are coming straight from the U.S. for example, I´m sure the overall lower prices will seem great. It´s all relative, right? 2) Compared to the rest of Central America, Costa Rica is almost  a mini U.S. I definitely found this to be true. Comparatively, it is a pretty well developed country where there are lots of English speakers, U.S. dollars are widely accepted and there are more Gringos on each bus you ride than I had seen anywhere else.  I met more people from the U.S. traveling in Costa Rica than possibly on the entire rest of my trip, and I was only there for 10 days! For a lot of  experienced backpackers, it´s just not culturally different enough from the U.S. or other western countries to be as interesting as the rest of the region. But, I´m sure for some and certinaly those less experienced, this would make it the perfect travel destination! Still, no matter what your level of travel experience or desired level of comfort, you can´t argue with the natural beauty in Costa Rica. I had an amazing time visiting just a few new places, including Tortugero.

Tree canopy Tortuguero

Tortuguero is a National Park on Costa Rica´s Carribbean side, accessible only by boat or plane. Tourist shuttles are widely available to Tortuguero, but taking public transportation is really easy and 1/3 the price. A bus from San Jose to Cariari (1,660 Colones)  then another from Cariari to La Pavona (1,100 Colones) takes you to the boat (1,660 Colones) you need to finally arrive in Tortuguero. The whole thing takes about five hours and will cost you around $9. Bonus: the boat ride to Tortuguero is more like a tour than just transportation, snaking down the river until you eventually land in the small but very charming village. There are many opportunities for wildlife spotting from a kayak or a canoe through Tortuguero´s canals, or on foot through the land portion of the National Park. There are beaches, abundant soccer matches to watch and overall good vibes.

Tortuguero Lizard DSCN9069 DSCN9064 DSCN9043

I did a canoe tour ($20) which resulted in spotting three different types of monkeys (Spider, Howler and White-faced), several large birds, a few caymans, and lots of lizards. Later, I walked, on my own, through the National Park and found myself in the company of a very still and very low to the ground family of Howler Monkeys. One even posed long enough for me to FINALLY get a few decent pictures! Spotting these guys running from tree to tree is relatively easy, but getting a non-blurry photo takes a lot of patience, a little luck, and a pretty good camera. Just look at this one´s foot and his face!

Tortuguero Howler Monkey

Tortuguero Howler Monkey

Though Tortuguero is not one of the 5 most popular places to visit on a trip to Costa Rica, if you have the time and are interested in spotting wildlife, you should definitely find your way there.



Central America On The Brain

You know that place? The one you go to in your head while you are commuting or at work, and aren’t working because the feeling of wanting to be there or having been there takes up so much space that there isn’t room for you to think about anything else? If you’re like me, you are hanging out in that place almost daily and its exact location changes based on how you’re feeling, what is happening in your life, what type of adventures you are craving or where you have just been. That place has been so many locations before, but right now, THAT place is Central America. Like, ALL of it.  I cannot get this relatively small but largely underrated region of the world out of my head. I am officially obsessed.


The fact that I know I am going there isn’t helping either. In my spare time, and in time that is definitely not spare, I Google and Google and Google places that are already on my itinerary to look at them one more time. Then, I search for new sources  that confirm information I already have, just because.  And each and every time a little bolt of excitement runs through me and I have a brief (what I like to assume is a) premonition about what it will be like to physically be there, warmth of the sun and all.  The number of times I have done this with Belize and Guatemala in particular is getting ridiculous; I had to remind myself this weekend that there are A LOT of other places I need to learn about and that it is time to move on. Wow.

So, where does my deeply ingrained fascination with Central America come from? That’s an easy one; Costa Rica. While it wasn’t my very first trip abroad, my 2007 trip to Costa Rica is certainly what sealed my fate as an explorer and adventurer. My best friend and I went down there for 2 weeks and came back different people; eyes wider, minds open, worries relaxed, dreams bigger. I don’t know if it was the waterfall hike or the zip-lining in Monteverde, the lines of tiny ants marching across our beds or the hot-spring soaking in the rain while in Arenal, the perfect cold water showers or the deep hammock swinging reflections in Montezuma, the golden orb spider webs to the face or my absolute favorite hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, but Costa Rica got to me. And from other people’s stories of their time there, it seems I’m not the only one. The infinite memories of THAT place have not faded one bit.

Cahuita Monkey CR Keith Beach CR Puerto Viejo Manzanillo Tree Climb Nik Cloud Forest Pura Vida Hammocks

This is undoubtedly what has me so ready to hit Central America again. If this tiny country, often the only one people consider in Central America, has so much to offer, what unforgettable places have I never even heard of yet? What is being overlooked? Where in Belize will I meet amazing people? What will I eat in Honduras? How much Spanish will I absorb in Guatemala? And of course, what new experiences will I have in Costa Rica this time around? Should I re-visit places I loved but had to leave too quickly the first time or concentrate on brand new spots? There is so much possibility I’m getting all lightning bolt-y again just writing about it.

Having finally moved past Belize and Guatemala and onto Panama I’m sure my pre-occupation with Central America isn’t going anywhere. As I delve into Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador too, I know I will only fall deeper under the spell that this region has over me. As a matter of fact, I’m sure that nothing short of exploring this region for the 5 months I have planned will satisfy me. And even then, I have my doubts that South America is even going to happen; I wouldn’t be surprised if after returning to Ecuador from Europe, I turned right around and made my way back up Central America, from the bottom this time! Because, why not?