I heard it was touristy, I knew it would be filled with overpriced restaurants and souvenir shops, but I came anyway. Needing to get out of the city, and more specifically to some warmer temperatures I left San Jose and headed for the coast. I knew to expect higher prices and probably loads of tourists, but I accepted this and looked past it. Manuel Antonio, both the park and beach, is listed in multiple guide books and “must see” destination lists so I figured there must be a reason, and I wanted to check it out.
When I arrived in the country I was fortunate enough to completely bypass the city, instead swept up by my Couchsurfing hosts, able to enjoy a scenic drive into the mountains rather than have to navigate the capital. San Jose seems to be one of those cities that everyone loves to hate, “don’t bother” being a common phrase heard when travelers ask what they should do in the city. I’ve come to realize that I root for the underdog, both in travel and life, most notably and gratefully so with Bangkok. For that reason, and the fact I had cool Couchsurfing hosts whom I wanted to spend more time with, I decided to give the city a few days of my time.
It’s one of the more touristic destinations of Costa Rica, although to be fair there are many, so I had little to no worries about finding things to do. Thankfully though, having ot figure that out was postponed by a few days after my Couchsurfing host invited me to join him and his friends on their trip to the city. After a low-key New Year's Even celebration we were up early and hangover free (I love realizing I feel fine when half the world is in a deep, drunken slumber or curled around the toilet). After a delicious breakfast and strong coffee we were out the door and on our way to the Monteverde Reserve. Thankfully the weather was good (enough) with equal patches of wind, rain and sun which left my only complaint for the whole day to be the price of the entrance fee, $20 for foreigners, I really should have tried to just blend in with my local friends, for less than half the price.
For the last 5 years my heart has been stuck (and still partially remains) in Asia. I taught and lived in Korea, studied yoga in Thailand, taught it in Cambodia and traveled extensively around the reason. Friends kept asking why I kept going back to Asia, “go somewhere new” they would urge. Finally, last year I took some time to jump around Europe, although that trip was cut short by my return to Korea where I put in another year teaching. The whole year of which was filled with distant thoughts of South American, a place I planned to explore soon. I finished, crossed one more SE Asia destination off my list, and returned home, ready to plan my South American travels. Only that didn’t actually happen, instead I started searching yoga retreats, which led to airline tickets and before long I had myself headed to Costa Rica on New Year’s Eve. I opted for the one-way ticket, pretty normal in my book, thinking that I could always turn this into the beginning of a trip South. What I dismissed though was my love-affair with the East, and just how strong it was.
Packed with Adventure and Adrenaline, a diverse landscape from mountains to cloudforests, oceans, beaches and waterfalls. It's known for being touristy, safe and expensive, but was for me, a great introduction to Central America.