Costa Rica, Pura Vida

After a lovely time in Nicaragua and leaving the magical Ometepe, we hit up Costa Rica.

The “Pura Vida (Pure Life)” tagline in this land is ubiquitous and I love how the locals happily cheer “Costa Rica, Pura Vida” to almost everything. As ubiquitous as the tagline would also be Gallo Pinto – a traditional dish made with rice and black beans and also found on every menu here in Costa Rica (or Nicaragua where they use red kidney beans instead) . There’s no chicken in this dish despite the name, some say the beans give a spotted appearance to the rice that looks like the plumage of a rooster, so they say.

I crossed borders and went on to Liberia, then down to San Jose (capital) and its surrounding which got a bit too cold for me and went right down to Puerto Viejo, a town by the beach with warm weather,  right down my hood.

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During the border crossing, border patrol came up to check.
I read prior in Nicaragua that the border control at Costa Rica was a lot more tight, and they may check your exit ticket out of Costa Rica or an exit ticket elsewhere. I didn’t have a return ticket anywhere as we were traveling one-way overland and I really can’t remember what I did back then – All i recall was showing the border police a piece of paper.
I may have bought an onward TICA ticket from Costa Rica to Panama and had it with me on standby in case I was asked to produce one. I think I was asked to show some sort of evidence that I was leaving Costa Rica, and I produced one and got through.

I recall meeting these two girls from Canada at the border and got really excited talking to them. I still ‘stalk’ one of them now on facebook every now and then. It was a big coincidence that I met them here at the border and then later on at the extreme end of Costa Rica- Puerto Viejo where they checked into the same hostel and the same room as I had. Small world, you don’t say.

LIBERIA

Finally the bus reached Liberia and we got off, happy to stretch our legs.
A lovely town I must say, and our hostel had a lovely view especially with the sun set.

Here I met a lovely French lady and we exchanged stories as all hostel mates do. When she knew I was heading to Ecuador, She laughed sharing that 10 years ago, she was travelling South America alone and in Quito, Ecuador, she unknowingly got off her bus at the wrong stop in the middle of the night. Extremely terrified, she ran all the way out of the tunnel until she found a family to spend the night with.

I would definitely have felt the same thing if that happened to me.
I’ve read previously Ecuador had incidents where cartels / gangs would stop public buses, raid and rob the passengers and maybe shoot them if they felt like it. What more a solo female stranded in the middle of no where.

Silly things we do when we are young and looking back we can only laugh and shake our heads at how insane some journeys or risks we took were.
She assured me Quito is definitely safer 10 years later on and went on about her Galapagos adventures.

I had a great time chatting with her, catching the sunset and I recall she had a lovely wrap skirt which she held together with a safety pin. How random.
I’ve also since copied the safety pin trick with my wrap skirts from then on till today.

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View of Liberia from the hostel

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Joined a day tour to a Rainforest – Rincon de la Viejo

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This rainforest was truly majestic. Felt so small amongst these huge trees.
Only a passerby, we leave no trail, and take nothing.
In silence we walked, In awe we stood, with respect, we enjoyed.
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One of the animals we spotted.

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Crossed a few bridges on this trek, was really lovely to be among nature.

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Catching some fumaroles  (volcano crater) along the way, 106 degrees ouch!

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Hot and sweaty after the hike, this was extremely inviting. Jump in, cool off – Pura Vida.

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Rio de Azul (Blue River)
Our tour guide brought us to his favorite place in Liberia – only locals know about this place.
Not part of our itinerary, all the more so precious. Hidden gem.

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One more afternoon dive 🙂

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Refreshing day, I loved it.

SAN JOSE

Hit up the capital of Costa Rica, it was a bit chilly here due to the city’s elevation of 1,172 m.

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Went to the central park and walked up a small hill. View of Costa Rica city here!403386_10150823768637470_1953593488_n

Another day trip out to San Isidro and Cartago.
Got here by the bus at dawn and spent the day town hopping.

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San Isidro, lovely town. Visited their church and cultural centre before heading to the Lankester Garden which was well known for it’s Japanese garden.

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They said it resembled a bamboo path in Japan. Now that I’ve been to Kyoto Japan where I traipsed down Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, I would say there is indeed some good resemblance.

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Spent another day water rafting down the famous Pacuare river! A hole in my pocket, a few cuts n bruises, skin fried like chicharron (Fried pork skin), but fighting the waters down a crazy beautiful avatar looking forest, fed with the best breakfast Ive had in months, an awesome group, jumping in the cool water randomly for a quick exploration was definitely worth every cent. At that moment, I really felt what it meant – Costa Rica, Pura Vida!
Oh yea pooora vida! (complete w the hand “V” sign which locals hold out while saying Pura Vida, which is a peace sign but w the back of hand facing out!)

PUERTO VIEJO

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On the way from San Jose to Puerto Viejo, the bus almost had an accident.

Not sure if it was due to a sleeping driver or faulty brakes, I was awaken from a nap by women screaming, to see our bus heading straight and fast for the truck in front of us.
And I was frantically scrambling in my mind “oh man, brace brace for impact. what is the best position to be in for the crash. would landing on my side be best?”

Later on, the crying ladies shared that they thought they were all gonna die,  and that their whole life literally flashed before their eyes.
However, in my case, I felt one could actually think a lot during that split second, so I guess each one has their own way of reacting to impending danger. And also because they were at the front, I guess it was a lot more intense to see the bus heading down full speed on to another vehicle.
Long story short, at the very last minute our bus swerved out into the other oncoming lane, avoided the truck in front of us and back into our lane, just as an oncoming HUGE truck on the other oncoming lane came zooming by!!
Amazing how the busy road packed with trucks cleared out at that exact spot for that few seconds!
Angels were with us that day, we escaped with only a broken mirror!521512_10150823772967470_1366259989_nPuerto Viejo, Costa Rica.
A nice change from the cold in San Jose
Light summery breeze, coconuts everywhere, lazy afternoons, reading books by the beach.

547720_10150823772792470_1681573282_nWe also spent days cycling, and went all the way down to Punta Uva, a nice secluded beach.

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Coconuts at 50cents.556630_10150823770957470_1471929364_nDecided to have a break from lazing around and visited the animal rescue centre in puerto viejo.

Always wanted to work with animals, so it was nice to visit this place. Maybe one day I shall give a month and soak myself in it.545157_10150823769787470_1363106774_n

Howler Monkeys!577679_10150823770442470_689607293_n

Here they taught me how to tell poisonous snakes from the non poisonous ones – Slit shaped pupils, fangs (pits on their face), and diamond shaped head? You’ve got an poisonous fellow there.

250850_10150823770607470_1230789415_nPoisonous beauty

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Not too sure if the “slit pupils=dangerous” snake theory applies to frogs, but I assume not since the carelady was holding it.577548_10150823771547470_118699214_n

Learnt frog eggs are found underneath leaves.

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Sloths. Cute little fellows.
And very lazy too. They just eat and sleep.

282333_10150823771087470_823643161_nInjured Hawk.564822_10150823771207470_334985430_n

But healing ever so quickly!

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Gorgeous.
Extremely educational, definitely a must visit in Puerto viejo costa rica!

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I had a great time Costa Rica, although there were a lot more I didn’t get to explore here like volcanoes and cloud forests. With all that I did, I really enjoyed myself.

Pura Vida 🙂

 

 

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