Sunrise over La Fortuna.

A reflection on Costa Rica

It’s a been a real pleasure to spend some time in Costa Rica. One of the best countries I’ve ever been to.

Hopefully I’m not falling in love with this place because ‘I’m travelling’ but there really is something special here.

I grew up in the countryside and I think that has something to do with it. As a nation the Costa Rican’s are in love with their country. The beaches and landscapes are spotless and locals will pick up rubbish from the street if they see it. They put deposits on beer bottles so you bring them back, there are conservationists everywhere. and they even use single ply toilet paper…

Anything that can be cleaned is cleaned. In Puerto Viejo, there’s just an old ship wreck left, with a tree growing out of it.

Coming into this trip I read up on Costa Rica and found some disturbing news regarding poachers who take turtle eggs and sell them as aphrodisiacs. In my opinion it’s telling the wrong side of the story. The pure number of people here who would give their lives for their local environment is astounding.

Unlike the UK, there doesn’t seem to be much ‘green peace’ style charity work here. No one ever asks for cash to protect their environment – the idea probably sounds ridiculous to them. It comes down to every individual doing their part. The message is simple: clean up after yourself and look after our country.

On top of that, everything costs more than you’d expect. No tourist would say it’s cheap, but I’m guessing it’s designed to keep mass-tourism away. It’s a considered, long-term way of doing things.

For this reason, tourism is one of their biggest exports. It’s a $2bn industry and thy clearly plan to keep it that way.

Costa Ricans are also some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Unlike many Parisians, they will put up with your (my) awful attempt at their language and even attempt to answer back in awful English. If their English doesn’t cut it, they track down a friend who can do better. Somehow we’ve always found our way.

In la Fortuna we were hiking to a waterfall and someone pulled over and offered a lift in the back of his truck. In the U.K. That would never happen; maybe due to fear of a fine…

This leads me onto my next point. The police are everywhere. Costa Rica has no army, so it ploughs money into local law enforcement. But I have not seen a single flashing light or seen anyone having a telling off. In fact, the police are incredibly forgiving. Last Thursday we went to a trivia night in a local pub and the winner of the ‘bonus round’ won a pre-rolled joint. With a police truck flying past we asked a local, who was well underway with his winnings, ‘is it legal here then’ he simply inhaled, waved at the police car and said ‘no, but they just don’t care’. Citizens are respected and for that reason tow the line. I haven’t felt threatened once here.

Our favourite water hole in Puerto Viejo — ‘Tasty Waves’. Home to a great trivia night as far as I can remember…

All in all, it makes for a very good trip and I would highly recommend it to anyone seeking an active getaway. It has golden beaches, towering mountains and a never ending supply of rice and beans. What’s not to love!

Cue silly photo.

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