Costa Rica Traverse - Part One
Start - Perth Airport, Western Australia
Finish - Bella Vista, Domincal, Costa Rica
Length - 16,750km
Date - 10th-12th of November, 2008
Welcome to the Throw Back Thursday Series, where I will be recalling my previous adventures in as much detail as I can remember. For Part One I will writing about the first few days of my time in Costa Rica in 2008, which should be at the top of the travel list for anyone interested in hiking, nature and epic scenery.
So why Costa Rica? It all started one normal day in the office when things were a little quiet and I googled "adventure holidays". One of the first results that came up was World Expeditions so I clicked on their page and opened up a world of possibility. I was like a kid in a candy store looking at all the destinations I could go to but after calming down a bit I started to look at price, length, suitability and wow factor and Costa Rica was the front runner. I quickly booked my trip for November/December of that year and started paying for flights, accommodation and figuring out how long I could go for. I ended up spending a couple of days in San Jose before the trip and just under a week in Los Angeles afterwards.
The journey to San Jose was an adventure in itself with stopovers in Sydney, LA and Mexico City before reaching Costa Rica. More than 24 hours after I set off from Perth, which included a flight to LA with Snoop Dog's roadies, getting lost in Mexico City airport (should have brushed up on my Spanish a bit more) and a great chat with a man from the Dominican Republic about life and property ownership, I finally arrived in San Jose. I was expecting the backpackers van to be there waiting for me but it wasn't (they forgot) so I hopped in a taxi (not one of the recommended ones with the yellow triangle) and was taken on a lengthy trip through the city after the taxi driver misheard which backpackers I was staying at (supposedly). When I finally arrived at the correct backpackers at 2am in the morning I was nowhere near ready for bed.
Thankfully there were some stragglers sitting by the pool talking, smoking and drinking so I introduced myself and joined in the fun. The next day I ventured out for a wander to grab my bearings of San Jose. One tip I can give is if you are coming to Costa Rica, come and see San Jose but don't linger as it pales in comparison to the rest of the country.
That afternoon back at the hostel I met up with one of the guys from the previous night (Monty the Englishman) and he had made friends with a couple of Americans. Soon we were joined by more Americans and then the Flor de Cana came out. After many drinks two of the American girls, who were seasoned Costa Rican visitors, suggested we headed out to a few clubs. After a lot of drinking, a lot of dancing and plenty of "insert scene here" and I remember walking back into the hostel and being handed my journal by the front desk. Definitely a night to remember and a welcome introduction to Costa Rica.
The next day there was a taxi waiting for me at the Backpackers courtesy of World Expeditions (one reason why they are so great) and I was whisked off to Hotel Fleur de Lys, a quaint little hotel near the centre of San Jose.
I was shown to my room and met Kosta, my roommate for the night and the person I would be closest to on the trip. He was about my age and coincidently worked for the same company (although on the other side of the country in a separate division). That night we met the others in our group and the tour leader, Juan Carlos, who went through what was going to happen and answered any questions we had.
After a much needed rest we were up early (a theme for the trip) and loaded into a bus for the long trip down the Pan American Highway to our starting point just outside of Dominical on the Pacific coast. We reached the beautiful Dominicalito Beach early in the afternoon and after a quick group shot we celebrated the start of the journey by taking a swim in the ocean. Being used to Perth beaches and the endless white sand it was a little different having to negotiate large rocks but the water was a welcome relief from the heat.
A quick dry off and it was straight into the serious business of hiking up to our accommodation for the night, high above the beach. Not long into the short hike we came across a great little waterfall, had another dip in the pool and the brave swung themselves from some rocks into the water via a rope attached to a nearby tree.
Before long it was time to head off again and the long hike up the gravel road began. With everyone gathered in groups chatting away and getting to know each other it wasn't long before we had reached the property we were staying at for the night, Bella Vista. Located on the hills above Dominicalito Beach, it is nothing more than a holiday house with another small house just below the main building but with the most amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. With our bags in our rooms we all made our way onto the deck to watch the sunset and were greeted with a stunning magenta light show that lasted for what seemed like ages.
Summary - For my first solo adventure this was an ambitious undertaking but I kept an open mind and tried to do things differently. Leaving the comforts of home behind I set off literally halfway around the world in search of adventure. Meeting new people (some I still keep in contact with), having a boozy blast in San Jose and finally the start of an epic trek (with plenty more to come), isn't that the value of travel?
Next week the adventure continues through some truly breathtaking parts of Costa Rica so make sure you stay connected to The Life of Py.
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