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Our traveller friend of today @silviajes_ tells us about the places that captivated her the most in a country that has stolen her heart: Costa Rica.
Discover the nooks and crannies she visited during the two weeks of volunteering in Latin America… A great experience that has amazed us!
Costa Rica: a paradise between the Caribbean and the Pacific
Hello! Let me introduce myself: my name is Silvia, I’m from Tenerife and you can find me on instagram as @silviajes_
In recent years I have travelled to various places in the world, with each one having their own charm, but today I want to share briefly my experience in the wonderful country of Central America, Costa Rica, a paradise between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
The main reason that led me to visit this country was to volunteer for 2 weeks in a rural school in a poor neighborhood in the municipality of Escazú, a few kilometres from San José, the country’s capital.
Volunteering in Costa Rica
My experience as a volunteer in Costa Rica was gratifying, I will always recommend it, because it opens your mind, fills your soul and nurtures you as a person. I have many memories and experienced moments that will forever stay with me, people and situations that mark you and remain within you.
I would be lying if I said that everything was beautiful, I inevitably had to witness family situations that weren’t pleasant, but the balance shifts towards the positive when you see that the little you do generates a smile on many people’s faces and that’s when you realize that it’s you who’s lucky to be having such an experience. After this volunteering, my scale of values and priorities in life has changed and I appreciate what I have more than what I lack.
But this was not the only reason for the trip, I also wanted to get to know and enjoy the incredible places that nature has given us throughout the country: national parks, natural reserves, beaches, flora and fauna.
The first visit outside the municipality in which I was staying was to San José, the capital. The centre of the city is quite small, with many people and cars on its streets and avenues, where most of the museums, shopping centres, markets, hotels, restaurants, parks and squares are located.
A little further outside the capital, in Santa Ana, I had the opportunity to visit the Herpetological Refuge of Costa Rica, a wildlife refuge where they rescue, rehabilitate and release back most of the cases they receive to the environment.
In this place you can find monkeys, crocodiles, caimans, iguanas, turtles, owls, parrots and toucans, among others.
The incredible Old Port
The next visit was to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, a town located in the province of Limón, on the Caribbean coast. To get to Puerto Viejo you have to take a bus from San José and it takes about 4.30 hours if there is no traffic (it took me almost 6 hours to get there on Friday).
A majority of the shops, restaurants and night bars are located in the main street of Puerto Viejo, many of them have live music. Puerto Viejo is characterized by its surfing and reggae atmosphere.
I stayed in a beautiful place with direct access to the white sandy beach Cocles. If you are traveling to Costa Rica, especially to this area of the Caribbean, you should not forget to take mosquito nets to protect yourself, not only from mosquitoes, but from any bugs (beetles, dragonflies, lizards, etc.) that sneak into your room…
Cahuíta National Park
In Puerto Viejo I was also able to visit the Cahuíta National Park, the place that impressed me the most among those I visited. Along the park you can walk along a path parallel to the coast where you can see the jungle with its animals (squirrels, monkeys, sloths, raccoons, insects, crabs, lizards, etc.) and the spectacular pristine and white sand beaches. The Park has two accesses and the complete route between both accesses is about 10 kilometres.
Another visit was to the Arenal Volcano National Park, in the province of Alajuela. Not only did I see the volcano (somewhat covered by clouds that day), the second most active volcano in Costa Rica, but also the 14 hanging bridges (8 fixed and 6 suspended), some of which are up to 60 metres high from where you can observe the flora and fauna typical of the place. I was particularly struck by the constant sound of monkeys jumping from one tree to another.
Another of the spectacular place I visited in the Arenal National Park was the Fortuna River Waterfall, which is about 70 metres high. In order to get to its base and take a dip you have to go down (and then go back up) about 530 steps through a forest of trees, but it is really worth it.
And there’s more!
And in this province you should not miss a visit to one of the thermal pools of hot water that flow from the Arenal Volcano with temperatures between 33 and 67 degree Celsius. I was able to visit the Baldi Hot Springs which in addition to access to the pools offers a buffet dinner at the end of the tour.
The last place I visited in Costa Rica was the beach of Puntarenas, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, a gray sand beach with a parallel boulevard full of shops and cafes.
Many are the places and national parks, including Tortuguero and Manuel Antonio, that I could not visit so I will undoubtedly return as soon as I can.
It is worth mentioning that, due to its tropical location, Costa Rica has two well-defined seasons: the dry season, which runs from December to April, with less rainfall; and the rainy season, from May to November, with heavy rains and tropical storms. I travelled in June and most days in the mornings I found myself enjoying a splendid sunny day and in the afternoons with heavy rains, so if you travel to this country it is advisable to always take a raincoat.
Interesting facts about Costa Rica:
– Costa Ricans are called ‘ticos’.
– Pura Vida’ (Pure Life) is a phrase used by the Ticos to respond to the greeting How are you? But for them it symbolizes the simplicity of good living, affection, humanity, abundance, well-being, joy, satisfaction, contentment, happiness and optimism.
– The most typical dish in Costa Rica is the ‘casado’, which consists of rice, beans, fried bananas, salad, and a selection of meat from chicken, beef, shredded meat, meat in sauce or fish.
– The typical breakfast is the ‘gallo pinto’, which consists of rice and beans mixed together, fried or scrambled eggs, minced meat, fried bananas and tortillas.
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Our community of Friends Travelers
Traveling friends of different nationalities tell us about their favorite trips and destinations, as well as their most incredible experiences, reflections, experiences and opinions. In addition, they show us with their photographs and videos the beautiful corners of our planet that they have visited.