Costa Rica – Pura Vida!
If Buenos Aires is considered the Paris of South America, then Costa Rica is definitely the Switzerland of Central America as a prosperous Hispanic country. This peaceful democracy without a military draws over one million tourists each year, mostly from the USA. Businesses from Canada and Europe also are attracted there because of its quality of its work force, stability and proximity to American shores.
Hot Springs From Volcano
It also has precious metals and oil, but Costa Rica is adamant about becoming the first carbon neutral country worldwide, so development is slow. Ninety-nine percent of its energy is met through a combination of geothermal hydroelectric and wind power. This tiny country smaller than West Virginia has a “green season,” full of rain from May to December, full of lush jungles and some of the finest beaches in the world.
Their currency is about 550 colones to one US dollar, but it has fluctuated slightly.
Lush Tropical Plants
Several airlines fly into their capital, San Jose, such as American, Delta, United, Air Canada, and Delta also flies into their small airport in Liberia named the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport. You will need proof of a return ticket, and no visa is required for tourists up to three months of stay, but a visa is mandatory, as is the departure tax of about US$31.00 per person.
You can find several rental car companies at the airports: Hertz, Avis, Budget, etc., but be aware they might block your credit card with US$1000.00, and it is strongly advisable to carry the full amount of insurance because the roads in the mountains are full of pot holes, very narrow bridges, and low visibility during a rainy and cloudy day. Unless you are an excellent driver, I would not drive up in the mountains with a car, select an SUV instead. It is best to take tours because if you break down there is nobody to help you except cows. Americans can use their driver’s licenses to drive there for up to three months, but make sure you have a GPS as the rural roads are very poorly marked.
Their electricity is 110V, two prongs. It is cheaper to buy a sim card at the baggage section of the airport, to place in an old phone rather than pay high international roaming rates on your cell phone.
The monsoon season in Costa Rica is May to August, and that is the reason hotel rates are cheaper, but make sure you carry a poncho in your bag because the rains come down torrentially for about three hours every afternoon.
This tiny country is an excellent place to retire. All you need is one person in a marriage receiving a pension of US$1,000, per month, and hospitals, medicines, and certain taxes are free to retirees who can settle in beach areas, or mountainous regions where a large community of gringos live.
The Tico Times is an English newspaper. The water is potable. A yellow fever vaccination is recommended but not mandatory, and take plenty of insect repellent with you, although most hotels and convenience stores sell it. Magellan’s. com 1-800-450-7714, sells packets of Deet, which I find more convenient than carrying a big bottle.
Costa Rica has their own American Legion, telephone: 506-2233-8068. The Woman’s Club of Costa Rica: www.wccr.org.
Don’t take an unmarked taxi, and make sure the meter is turned on, and settle on a price before getting into a taxi. Many residents do not speak English fluently.
Costa Rica exports bananas and coffee, and they have beautifully painted oxcarts that are both practical and serve as a work of art in your home which can be found in Sarchi, Alajuela.
If you are only going to be spending a couple of nights in this jewel of a Central American country then I recommend staying at the Riu Guanacanaste Hotel, which is all inclusive, with a winding freshwater pool, not far from ‘sabanero’ (cowboy) country in a region that is drier and less humid than the beaches area.
An iguana, protected. You are not allowed to hunt them.
But if you want to see the famous Arenal Volcano then the Arenal Manoa & Hot Springs Resort, would be ideal. If in the Guanacanaste area, don’t miss the Doka Coffee Estate, and the Monteverde Cloud Foest at Selvatura Park.
While in the San Jose city go to the Plaza de Cultura, and the National Theatre.
A bit of local art representing a coffee plantation
For those aviation enthusiasts and pilots, a must see is the Fairchild C-123, army transport plane, converted into a bar and restaurant called: El Avion; take Ruta 618 to get there.
In 2017, there were 626 centenarians living in the Guanacanaste are of Costa Rica: Carillo, Hojancha, Nocoya, Santa Cruz, and Nandayure. Cosmetic giant Chanel developed and released a new anti-agent product with longevity ingredients developed from the diet of people living in the “blue zones,” which includes the green coffee from the Nicoya Peninsula. Fernando Morales, the director of the National Geriatric Hospital, said new research of the ‘Ticos centenarios’ will allow them to better understand their success factors for longevity.
If you are seeking a relaxed adventure then this tiny country with its quaint lagoons and greener than Ireland rainforests, is for you. Taste a glass of horchata, a combination of rice and cinnamon, and make sure your camera is ready to take pictures of the cascading waterfalls, and vulgar flowers that entice the birds and bees to visit them, and the naughty iguanas that arrogantly roam knowing they are protected. In fact, everything is protected in Tico-land, as they truly value their eco-system.
There are 143 snakes of which 23 are venomous. The bothriechis nubestris is a Talamancan venomous snake, and the Palm Pitviper lives up to 24 inches long in the northen Panama region. You might want to wear boots if traipsing along the hills.
Since the Caribbean seems to be off-limits these days due to their hurricane battering, why not try a little bit of “pura vida,” where natives really make the tourists welcome! They are very friendly and helpful.
Read Travel Tales in the Archives.