Parting Thoughts – Three Months in Costa Rica

It is hard to believe that we have come to the end of the first leg of our adventure. We have a much better tan, have lost a few pounds, shed a lot of emotional baggage and have accumulated innumerable fond memories from our time in Costa Rica. We are only beginning to come to terms with what it means to adopt a nomadic lifestyle but so far it has exceeded our expectations.

DSCF4692

We chose Costa Rica as our first stop as we wanted an opportunity to relax as well as ease into our new life. It is a country we love to visit and generally knew what to expect. What we didn’t know was how we would respond to being on the road for an extended period.

20160629_112615_resized

Our condo complex in Playas del Coco

It was easy to settle into our condo at Playas del Coco and we were very happy with it throughout our stay. There was plenty of space for us, a nice pool on site, WiFi coverage was decent and it was a short walk to the beach and a small supermarket. Probably the aspect that took the most time to adapt to was the lack of privacy that living in a small enclosed complex like this affords. In the future we are going to be spending more time in apartments and other close quarters so we will get used to it.

DSCF5848

We were there in the shoulder season so rent was affordable. Water, internet and cell costs were also very reasonable. Electricity is expensive so that was our largest utility cost. Food prices tend to be expensive so you have to be careful what you buy and where. There are some good options like trucks selling fruit, vegetables and eggs, sale days at the local grocery stores and farmer’s markets (ferias) where they are available. Anything imported is very expensive so this is another good reason to eat local and fresh. To have a look at our monthly expense summary you can check out our Money Matters page.

DSCF4080

One of the aspects of staying in one place that we particularly enjoyed was being able to settle into a routine. Watching school children head to school every day, seeing the changes in the vegetation as the seasons change, saying hello and practicing Spanish with the staff at the local supermarket and experiencing a different scene on the beach every day were just some of the simple pleasures we were able to experience as a result of having time.

DSCF4636

We observed as every day a pair of white-winged doves constructed a nest on our roof, putting it together one blade of grass at a time.

After a week of rain around the first of June there were literally dozens of baby iguanas and lizards all around the yard and pool. We were able to watch them grow and laughed as they ate the fresh flowers around our patio each morning.

DSCF5830

During our stay we did use the opportunity for some great road trips, exploration and a chance to visit more of this diverse and beautiful country. We rented a car for two extended trips and in both cases we were very pleased with the quality of service and price we received.  For our trip to Monteverde we used a reasonably priced local shuttle service. There are many ways to get around and we would recommend taking the opportunity to visit as many places as you can.

We have noted most of the major areas for birding that we visited on this trip on our Birding Along the Way page. Undoubtedly the Monteverde cloud forests were a highlight for us and we were fortunate to see several life sightings including our first resplendent quetzals. The coastal areas also provided many interesting sightings.

DSCF5367

White Ibis

Throughout our stay, as in previous visits we were treated with respect, kindness, openness and friendship from nearly everyone we met. At the risk of offending others, we found the people of Monteverde to be especially gracious and welcoming with a sense of pride and entrepreneurship that was a delight to experience.

So will we return to Costa Rica? A definite yes, but it may  be a while. There are so many positive aspects to this relatively small country. Its biodiversity and beauty are undeniable while the friendliness of its people, the relatively good infrastructure and accessibility all make it an attractive destination for a short term visit but also a potential long term option.

20160703_154817

However, Costa Rica is not as cheap as it used to be. Prices for accommodation, essentials and services have risen quite dramatically in the past few years. While this places a strain on visitor’s wallets, it has a serious impact on Ticos who for the most part have to pay the same increased prices we do, and generally on a much lower wage. As tourism continues to expand, infrastructure must be put in place to accommodate the millions of visitors and funding must come from somewhere.

As with anywhere that tourism is a major industry there can be significant divides between the local communities and their visitors. In many instances Costa Rica has done an excellent job in setting aside large areas of land and marine spaces for conservation, encouraging local ownership and entrepreneurship and fostering a pride in its beauty, culture and diversity.

For our tastes we enjoy the smaller mountain and coastal towns and tend to avoid the larger areas such as San Jose and its surrounding areas, Tamarindo and Jaco. But that is just our preference and many others have found what they have been looking for in these larger towns an cities which do provide more services.

DSCF6079

In summary we reconfirmed that we love warm weather, a relaxed and friendly lifestyle and rich biodiversity. We also reconfirmed that we are entirely comfortable in spending our time together. By the end of our three months we felt fulfilled with what we had experienced and learned, but we also recognized that we there are still many aspects of a nomadic life that we need to get better at. Packing lighter (no surprise), better use of technology and adapting to less privacy are at the top of our list for improvements.

DSCF5973

Perhaps more than anything we realized that we love this lifestyle and are so thankful and excited to be able to have this opportunity. Thank you all for travelling along with us, and we hope you join us on our next adventure – we are off to Europe!

 

Advertisements

About timannehall

We sold almost all of our belongings and left our home in Nova Scotia in April 2016 to experience as much of the world as we can. We spent over a year slow traveling in Latin America and Europe. For the next stage of our journey we are going to based in Portugal and traveling from there.
This entry was posted in Budget, Costa Rica, Slow Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Parting Thoughts – Three Months in Costa Rica

  1. Jen Hall says:

    That’s a wow, you guys!! Great post…look forward to following the next adventures!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wanda a Demone says:

    This is amazing,you two are amazing, I have goosebumps reading this😙. Looking forward to your continued travels. Thanks again for sharing, you’re enjoying life, wow!

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Thank you Wanda! We had a wonderful time on the first leg of our new life journey. It is hard to believe at times that we have made all this happen, but we did and we are going to keep doing it! Life is short so we are taking advantage of every moment. Thank you for following us and we look forward to sharing our next adventure. All the best – Anne and Tim

      Like

  3. Jean Pulley says:

    I will live vicariously through the two of you!
    See you in Europe!
    As I am sure that you are well aware Europe will NOT be any cheaper!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for this. We’re heading to Costa Rica for the first time over the coming winter. I can’t wait to explore. You make it sound so enticing. I might want to pick your brains 🙂
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Hi Alison and Don. We are sure that you will enjoy Costa Rica. We’d be pleased to share some of our thoughts on what worked for us. There are a great diversity of places to explore and each offer their own rewards. Thanks for following along. Tim & Anne

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your post was a great recap of your transition into your new life and I loved the first photo of you gazing at the water. We found Costa Rica food prices to be especially expensive, even on the Caribbean side and the choice, in the small villages to be quite limited. We’d go wild (a type of reverse culture shock!) when we’d hit the superstores of Tamarindo, Jaco and Atenas because of all the choices (cheddar cheese!) but it was a huge hit on the food budget. I miss the mangos, watermelon and limes/lemons but we get a good trade-off with strawberries (affordable) oranges, peaches, etc. In Europe, prices vary from country to county but I really think you’ll be surprised by the (LOW) food prices in Portugal especially as well as the variety. New adventures await! Anita

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Thanks Anita. We are already missing the fresh fruit especially, as they never taste the same when they are shipped overseas. We are glad to hear that prices and selection are good in Portugal. We are all booked in for Lagos now thanks to your great advice. We will keep in touch and look forward to meeting you both in person. All the best, Tim & Anne

      Like

  6. Peta Kaplan says:

    We lived in Nicaragua (Costa Rica’s neighbor) for six years. Dont know if you will get a chance to cross the border but if you can, you will be well rewarded. Nicaragua is what Costa Rica was, twenty years ago!

    Love the photo of the white winged doves and the baby iguanas. Fabulous.

    Enjoy nomadic life… we left Nicaragua a few years ago, and started our nomadic journey in SE Asia. It has been an incredible ongoing adventure.

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      The biodiversity of Costa Rica drew us there the first time and we still marvel at it. We didn’t quite make it into Nicaragua this time but hope to o our next visit as it sounds wonderful. We are just starting to catch up on your travels but we like we have read so far. We are planning to head to SE Asia next spring. Thanks for stopping by. Cheers, Tim & Anne

      Like

  7. Pingback: Slow Travel in Retirement: First Year Reflections and Looking Ahead | A New Latitude

  8. Pingback: Changing Directions one Step at a Time | A New Latitude

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s