“Pura Vida, Tico” or visiting Costa Rica

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Last December, my wife and I took a holiday to Costa Rica (well, we stayed at San José and moved around). Fun fact: traveling and staying there from Mexico is for us, Mexicans, quite cheap. Almost as cheap as visiting the Rivera Maya (if you know how to book a holiday and avoid most hotel schemes). But buying stuff or taking regular cabs there is really expensive as they charge in dollars or their equivalent. Even for the Costa Ricans.

Anyways, visiting Costa Rica is something I can’t recommend enough. If I could, I would go back to visit the rest of the places we couldn’t due time. Given the time it takes to displace from San José to many of the natural reserves and other touristic spots, my wife and I focused on those that were relatively close to us, to make better use of our time and have rest (and to take advantage of the free breakfast buffet for guests at the hotel).

First, we visited the Municipal Handcraft Market, where we tried to buy a few souvenirs for the family. Nice place (clean restrooms which are welcomed) and accessible vendors. And some really odd souvenirs that I can’t share a pic of them for being NSFW.

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A few days later, we went to ‘Cascadas la Paz’. it’s a national park funded by a private organization, placed in a land with three waterfalls, in a mix of cloudy and rain forest. It is also a place where rescued animals -most of them protected species in danger of extinction like jaguars- were taken from irresponsible owners and placed in a safe environment for their recovery. It also has a good ‘collection’ of hummingbirds, butterflies, and frogs, including some venomous ones.

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Another day we made a trip to the Irazu Volcano, one of the highest volcanoes on the continent. From it, in a good, clear day you can see both the Caribbean and the Pacific coasts. After that, we traveled down to the Orosi Valley, where we visited a private thermal water resort. And the food there was delightful!

We also visited a coffee roaster enterprise called Britt Coffee, where the tour guides are informative and amusing (they could have their own stand-up comedy show).

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Fun facts about Costa Rica (as related to us by our tour guide):

1) It has no standing army. Instead, all the money that would be used for that goes to education.

2) It’s a pioneer in the use of renewable energies for grid supply and ecotourism.

3) Has a somewhat small police force for the whole country.

4) Due to its extreme volcanic activity, there are small earthquakes daily. Thus the construction laws of the country don’t allow for taller buildings (not even hotels have more than 6-7 floors so no skyscrapers) and all the roofs are made of light metal sheets (that way if the worst happens, no one will get crushed by the roof collapsing over their heads).

5) Has the largest stray dog shelter ever, with around 1.3k dogs in it. Which was featured in the ‘Dogs’ documentary series by Netflix.

6) ‘Pura Vida’ -the title of this blog- its the motto of the country, used for almost anything.

There are more activities to do: extreme sports, beach visits, trips to other volcanos and natural reservoirs and cultural events. I can’t recommend enough to visit the country, either for inspiration as a writer or if you like nature and sustainability. If you wish to see more of our photos about the natural beauties that Costa Rica has to offer, please visit my wife’s photography website and the page dedicated to this trip.

And of course, Raph, the traveling Ninja Turtle finally managed to go on the trip.

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