Gut Rumbles

July 19, 2005

costa rica

I've been to Costa Rica three times now, and I've spent a grand total of 31 days there. I'm going back again next month for at least ten days and maybe longer, depending on how I feel and what I run into. I really like that place.

I received this email today:

Rob -

You often talk about Costa Rica, her people, culture, etc.

What places would you recommend? Do you have any info on immersion Spanish courses held there?


I've already googled 'costa rica' and limited it to

Posted by brian at July 19, 2005 12:05 AM

On my trips to Costa Rica, I've been pretty much all over the country, from both coasts to both borders. I know what I like, but I hesitate to recommend anything to anybody I don't know. What I like might not please you.

My two favorite places in Costa Rica are Jaco Beach and La Fortuna. Jaco is pretty laid-back, with beautiful Pacific water and surf, and you can find some really good food there. Plus, Jaco is more of a "live cheap" destination than places such as Tamarindo or Manuel Antonio.

La Fortuna is beautiful, right at the foot of the Arenal volcano. That sumbitch shook me out of bed at 3:00 AM the first time I was there. That's ALSO where I was mugged by a mango in total darkness after a night of singing Spanish karioke in a local bar.

The difference between Jaco and La Fortuna is like the difference between south Georgia and north Georgia. One is the beach, and the other is up in the mountains. BOTH are wonderful places.

If you visit the Caribbean side, you're entering "hippie heaven." The beaches are okay and the people are great, but you might not have hot water in your motel room. Of course, you can find a place to stay that's clean and decent for $5.00 a night there. And if you want to buy any kind of dope known to man, that's the place to do it.

I recommend that everybody spend a day or so in San Jose, just to walk through the market area in the morning when it first opens. That's quite a sight to see, and the noise is glorious. But I wouldn't stay there long. Get out of there and see the rest of the country.

Almost every town I visited had Spanish classes offered. I don't want to spend my time in Costa Rica sitting in a classroom, so I bought a phrase book, refreshed some of the Spanish I learned in college and spent a lot of time taking "lessons" from cab-drivers and bartenders.

I suggest you ask this guy for more information. He knows more about Costa Rica than I do, although I am determined to catch up with him some day.

Just go. Wherever you end up, you won't regret it.


I'd love to visit there, but that would be one hell of a long trip from Alaska. From here I've gone to Miami and Mazatlan and both of those trips were long.

Posted by: Alaska Kim on July 19, 2005 01:54 PM

Kim's right -- just going from Fairbanks to visit the in-laws in Chattanooga required spending twelve hours each way enduring the tender mercies of airlines and airports.

On the bright side though, since moving to the Lower 48 I've found anything less than a coast-to-coast flight to be downright restful.

(But then again, we've been cheating the last few years -- by spending the extra miles for first-class seats.)

Posted by: McGehee on July 19, 2005 04:07 PM

I envy your world traveling. Wow.

Posted by: blondage on July 19, 2005 04:33 PM

I've always wanted to go fishing there. Knew some retired military guys that went down there to live. Supposed to be one of the biggest American Legion posts in the world in Costa Rica

Posted by: GUYK on July 19, 2005 04:58 PM

Geeze, going from Fairbanks to Costa Rica would be even worse than where I am in southeast! That is a whole 'nother half a day.

Posted by: Alaska Kim on July 19, 2005 05:00 PM

GUYK-- the last time I was down there, I met some retired military guys over on the Caribbean coast. They didn't do shit except hang out in the bars every day and go fishing when they felt like it. One of them had been in Costa Rica for 16 years.

Another one of 'em told me that his retirement pay was $600 US every month and he had more money than he could spend.

Yep. You can do that in Costa Rica.

Posted by: Acidman on July 19, 2005 05:14 PM

One of the things I love most about Costa Rica is that it's not really on the radar for tourist locations, so you mostly get people who fall into the "good shit" category visiting. Also, the fact that you can live like a roman god for a month on $1000 isn't exactly a bad thing. I ate so much pineapple and other tropical fruit the first time I went there, I nearly died.

It's also pretty close, as the bird flies, compared to sitting on Air Greyhound for nine hours to get to most other tropical destinations of note.

Oh yeah, and the local girls are all pretty much hot.

I'm seeing a Cafe Americana popping up down there when I'm ready to retire.

Posted by: Mr. Lion on July 19, 2005 08:35 PM

Quepos (about an hour south of Jaco) is great too. Next to the Miguel Antonio national park.

Try a city tour of San Jose'. It's fun, and gives you a good overview of the country's history and culture. I *definitely* recommend a whitwater trip down the Pacuare, and the zip line tour thru the rainforest outside of Quepos.

Time at the spa at Arenal is wel worth it, too.

Posted by: leelu on July 19, 2005 10:03 PM

I *definitely* recommend a whitwater trip down the Pacuare...Oh, if I were still paddling a kayak (except my thoon won't fit in it anymore)!

Posted by: Scott Crawford on July 19, 2005 10:41 PM

I'm off to there next month too, 11th -15th. I can't wait. A friend wanted to go but the real clincher was your obvious delight in the place.
I might be a yankee who prefers un-sweetened tea and doesn't like grits, but I don't think we're all that different.
I'll let you know how it went.

Posted by: Veeshir on July 21, 2005 08:53 AM
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