Things didn’t start out well in Costa Rica which was my fault. I had to leave Key West and that is never a good thing. I made things more difficult for myself because of that.
In addition to that, I landed in Liberia – a city in the North of the country which turned out to be not very pretty. The couple of trips I took from here did nothing to change my opinion of the area.
After Liberia I decided to visit Bijagua. Bijagua is a small town, a village really, that is the starting point for any traveller wanting to visit the Volcan Tenorio National Park. The park is most famous for its Rio Celeste, a river with an unusually torquoise water and waterfall. Despite it being the starting point, there are virtually no hostels in Bijagua. The only option is a fairly expensive Heliconia Ecolodge. Because of the price I only booked 2 nights and afterwards left the village for San José, Costa Rica’s capital.
Upon arrival in San José, I checked into the Van Gogh Hostel which I liked so much, I ended up staying longer than initially intended. I decided to take the time to think about where to go next. I definitely want to leave Costa Rica. Don’t get me wrong: The country is very beautiful, green, with plenty of opportunities for day trips and sightseeing as basically the whole country is protected or declared a national park in one way or the other. There are literally hundreds of vocanoes to see and I read somewhere that Costa Rica has the largest biodiversity in birds and plants, bigger even than the USA and Europe combined. As you can see, you could spend a lot of time exploring this country.
Why then do I want to leave? It’s simple: It is freakishly expensive.
I may be riding a dead horse here and nobody wants to hear it anymore, but I do love Key West. The reason why I spent only 3 days there was because I didn’t want to go over my budget too much. Because, as we all know by now, Key West is expensive. But now I find out that Costa Rica is just as expensive; more even in some areas. Like national parks, for example, where the entrance fee is sometimes $20 or more. Shopping for necessities (shampoo, etc) is also very expensive. The prices are about the same as in the US.
The only things cheaper in this country are buses and going out to eat if you stick to the ‘Casado’ – that’s a lunch dish that almost always consists of rice&beans, fish or meat, small salad, and plantains. Sometimes a small drink is included. The ‘casado’ costs around $5. If you order anything else, you pay the typical American prices for dining out.
Next difficulty: I don’t speak Spanish. Everybody kept telling me that you’ll get along fine with English in Costa Rica. I found that to be only partly true. In hostels and in the markets? Yes, absolutely. In the street, in restaurants, the bus station? Nope. Of course that’s also nobody’s fault but my own, but it does lead to me being frustrated. That’s why I started an online class to learn Spanish. It takes up a lot of my time, though. 2-3 hours a day, every day, are spent learning Spanish. Which makes updating the blog regularly difficult.
But anyway – my next trip is to Mexico and I am looking forward to hostels with a pool, good food, bright colors. Pictures, as always, can be found in the gallery.