Coming from Nicaragua Juan and I went through an area of mountains, and within hours the landscape changed abruptly. From yellow to deep green. Sugarcane plantations fuse with protected areas and national parks, and the volcanoes on the background. Costa Rica has the greatest biodiversity per square kilometer of territory and the country is recognized as one of the major international destinations with authentic ecotourism options.
But compared to its neighboring countries, the entrances to national parks, lodging and even dining places are much more expensive. Costa Rica is the most expensive country in Central America, not only for travelers but for the Costa Ricans themselves. For example, the price of a can of tuna, which fished on its shores and for a large part of the population has been the main source of protein for years now, can cost from 2.5 to 4, 5 USD, when the neighboring countries and even in Mexico it costs an average of 1 USD. Therefore, Costa Rica is not ideal for the traveler who usually eat rice or pasta with tuna, but for American retirees who choose to spend the last years of their lives in another country.
“Unlike most countries in Central America and Latin America, Costa Rica has been a fully democratic country since 1889, and after the civil war in 1948, has had no army. Citizens enjoy a life expectancy of the highest in the Western Hemisphere”, Anais who greeted us at home when we go through the city of Liberia said. “Encouraged by the good climate and natural beauty, in addition to good standard of living, better cost medical plans, tax breaks and attractive prices in real estate, more than 40,000 citizens of the USA live in Costa Rica”.
In our tour of the route along the Pacific we have seen hundreds of ads in English that promote the sale of properties. The vast majority are higher than USD 160,000. As they commented 7 of each 10 coastal properties belongs to foreigners.
As usual, when the night grabbed us in route, we should solve the great dilemma: “where to sleep”. While there is not so insecurity in this country, camping in the middle of nowhere it was our last option. In countries such as Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, the farmer who lives along the route, is hospitable, curious and even helpful. There are many options and you can even choose or find a field that has a good view. However, in Costa Rica there are not humble farmers at the side of the road, but huge tracts fenced without any housing or just farms with tractors, late model trucks or cattle. And these people, when someone approaches, they are afraid. You notice it on their face they speak with insecurity and at the end posing as employees saying they have not the authority to allow one to mount the tent in a piece of their land. This happened in Bagaces. That night, we ended up camping on the bank of a canal, no one saw us and without asking permission.I was scare when getting into the canal to take a bath I could not get out because his promenade was too steep. But Juan was there, he quickly grabbed a rope from my bike and threw it to me.
Also we camped on pristine beaches that are not so cute because of the rocks, logs, branches and other plant debris. Different is the Manuel Antonio National Park, a couple of years ago, selected by the American Forbes Magazine as one of the 12 most beautiful parks in the world.
To get there we had to pedal 8 km on a annihilating slope and when not, we had to push. Juan was still very bad, he was now whom had taken a bomb of antibiotics to kill the parasites. The guy was lying on the cheapest hotel in Puntarenas, and after a couple of days pedaled next to me, still very weak.
Via the website couchsurfing.org we met several people who opened the door of their house, like Pablo in Jaco, that having to travel ended leaving us home alone with his dog. Or Alex at “El Roble”, who did us get to his home at night to then make us pedaling another 20 km to an abandoned cottage situated on top of a mountain with muddy roads. We hauled our bikes as if we were beasts of burden. If we had known we would have never done it. As if prescribed, half the people who get me through sites like this, lives at the top of the city.
I also want to thank the firefighters from Ciudad Neily and Quepos who welcomed us and also gave us dinner. Costa Rica was a country that just went through, but not explored. The rainy season had already started and therefore could only stop one day to sell. Unfortunately I could not accept most of the invitations I had, because the route we had chosen was another. But one thing is clear to me. If I ever go back I’ll be sure to get in the dry season and most important thing to have a well-filled wallet.[:]