I flew into San Jose airport in Costa Rica on a Saturday morning. My flight from Fort Lauderdale was about 2.5 hours on Spirit Airlines. I made sure to bring plenty of wine (in shampoo bottles, of course), 2 small salads, and some pretzels since they charge you for everything on this airline. My flight was delayed, which made me a little nervous since I had to catch another flight and still had to clear customs and immigration. Luckily, the lines moved pretty fast and I was able to grab my checked bag and passport stamp in time.
My next flight was from San Jose to Nosara. They told me at check in that the plane wasn’t going to be pressurized, so I couldn’t have any aerosols. Good bye sunscreen.
I knew it would be a small plane, but I was expecting something slightly larger than this!
I sat in the very front of the plane since I was one of the smaller people on board, and there wasn’t much head space in the aisle… and the pilot was kind of cute. And, lucky for me, there was no door for them to close them off from the main cabin. This obviously wouldn’t fly in the States (no pun intended…haha, ok maybe I did mean it).
The flight wasn’t bad, and since we couldn’t go very high, I had a great view most of the time. We did have to go a little above the clouds a few times because it was getting a little rough. I could have sworn I saw a ton of whales down below! After an hour, we touched back down, which sure beats 4-5 hours in an un-airconditioned bus!
The whole reason I even came to Nosara was because my boss really wanted me to have a good time and a roof over my head for a few nights so I could finally unwind. So, he made some calls, and a friend of a friend of his was living in Nosara and had a spare room, which he graciously offered to me. Since I hadn’t had a real vacation since my cross country road trip last year, I was ready for old-fashioned spontaneity again. And you guys know that I love to travel cheap!
Turns out, that my “roommate” Bill, does paddle board tours, which was one of my old jobs about 4 years ago. I knew we would get along with no problem!
Bill was nice enough to pick me up from the airport and drove me down the main road toward his place, but drove me through town first and down to the beach. The compound where he was living definitely had some gringo influence… security, large porches with hammocks and a pool with a swim up bar… HEAVEN! But he did warn me, several times, that petty theft was common, so hide everything!
Bill also kept warning me that this wasn’t much of a “party town”, but I kept telling him that the party comes to me!
After I settled in, I walked to the grocery store. I didn’t get much… frozen chicken patties, an onion, a bell pepper, cilantro, cooking oil and a bottle of wine and I managed to spend $22. Pretty close to American prices :/
We went down to the beach to watch the sunset with some wine.
We ended up meeting up with some of Bill’s friends at El Chivo and I got a chicken fundido sandwich which ran about $10 with tip…. ok so most of this place seems to be like American prices.
Sunday morning, he asked if I wanted to learn to surf. Ummm… YES PLEASE! I tried about 10 years ago when I was still in college, but I didn’t have any lessons. He borrowed a board for me from Coconut Harry’s Surf Shop and we walked down to the beach. He knew I could snowboard and paddle board, so he gave me a quick lesson on land on how to pop up and where to position my body on the board. We swam out into the white water and after about my third try with his help, I was standing up. He left me to my own devices while he went and paddle surfed. I got up about 6-7 times. The waves are constant and I don’t do a lot of cardio, so I was exhausted pretty quickly. This called for a siesta!
Later that afternoon after a glorious nap…or two… we went down to the pool for one of the neighbor’s birthday party. The adult to toddler ratio was about 2:1, but we all had a blast. I actually met someone who knew my best friend from Orlando! Small world! After the party, Bill tells me that’s the most people he’s seen in the pool… I told him the party comes to me!
On Monday, I did another surf session, but only lasted about 20 minutes because the waves were pretty rough, yet I managed to catch a couple of good ones. ::cue nap time:: Man, I’m out of shape!
That night, we went out to dinner next to the grocery store at Dos Lorenos and had a chicken “casado”. Casado literally translates to “married” but the slang for it refers to the sides that you get. Apparently, the workers who were married had better lunches packed for them than the single guys. So when you order a “casado” you’ll typically get beans, rice, salad and maybe veggies or a plantain. These meals will run you $6-9 around Nosara, which isn’t bad considering you’re getting most of your food groups!
Tuesday I needed to take a break from surfing because I had used some muscles that I didn’t know existed. I decided to go for a bike ride down to the beach. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty frightening. The roads are barely paved, there’s huge potholes, and large rocks to dodge. The brakes on my bike weren’t the best either, but I managed. I also didn’t realize how steep the hills were and had to walk my bike up a few inclines. Once I got onto the beach, I rode along the shore since it was low tide and stopped at some tide pools. I was already drenched in sweat and it was only 1030am. I chugged some water and made my way back. By the end of my ride, I felt like my whole body had used a Shake Weight because of how bumpy it was!
After my siesta, I woke up pretty sore, especially butt muscles! But on my vacations, I like to pack as much activity in as possible! So Bill and I headed to the river for a paddle board tour. We started at Boca Nosara and went up a small winding river, covered with the biggest red mangroves I had ever seen.
A lot of the wildlife that was there I was able to identify was all animals I had seen in Florida, such as blue herons, snowy egrets, osprey, vultures and mullets. Halfway through our tour, we stopped and walked along a short path to the beach. We probably were only 5-10 miles from where we usually surf at, yet the color of the sand was so much darker… and the sky was getting pretty dark as well!
Eek! But this was day 4 and it hadn’t rained, even though it was “rainy season”.
We headed back down the river, quickly dropped our boards off at home and headed down to the beach to watch the sunset. Right after the sun went down, the lightning started to light the sky up. Then the skies finally opened up and it rained… no, down poured, all night. Even living in Florida most of my life, I had never experienced rain like this.
Wednesday morning it was kind of overcast out, so we decided to have a lazy day… my body needed it anyway!! The day before was the first time in about 6 months since I had been on a bike ride or long paddle.
After our daily nap, Bill took me around town. I had told him about my interest in opening a hostel, especially one made out of old cargo containers. He showed me around Jungle’s Edge, which was a huge compound, complete with a large infinity pool, dojo, bar, firepit, and several rooms and tents to rent, which start at $22 a night.
Then we went up a steep hill to the Green Sanctuary, which was more of a hotel and about $99 a night.
I got some really cool ideas from both. We then decided to go up to a town called Garza. We went for a walk on the beach, but that didn’t last long because of how humid it was. We decided to stop at the first place that sold beer to re-hydrate, and it was about $2 per beer. Salud!!
For dinner, we went to Al Chile. I got some tacos al pastor, usually my favorite, but these were very “meh”, which Bill had warned me about before hand, but we went more for the live band which was great.
Thursday it was still pretty overcast, but we went down to the beach anyway to relax. We walked over to a tide pool and had a quick dip but finally decided it was nap time. We tried to get the energy to go for another paddle, but it just wasn’t happening.
We decided to try and watch the sunset at a beach bar/restaurant, La Luna, which had a great outdoor seating area, but the rain followed us, and made us seek shelter. But we enjoyed a glass of wine and a Mediterranean appetizer and tried to see the sunset through the trees and clouds. All together, this ran about $24, which I don’t think was horrible considering the view! We went and grabbed another drink at a bar after that, but I don’t remember the name, but I do remember trying to leave the place and a downed power line got stuck on the roof of our car. Bill had to jump out and get it off. Luckily we had a paddle board paddle in the car to get the line off safely.
Friday morning it was time for me to leave. My Nature Air flight was about $150, with a checked bag weighing up to 27 pounds (which I was right on the money, and the check in guy wanted to give me an award for!!) back to San Jose to meet up with my best friend Iris. We stopped at Cafe de Paris first to grab a bite to eat and a ham and cheese (jamon y queso) croissant was about $1. We got to the “airport” an hour early, but really, you could get away with getting here 10 minutes prior. They asked us no security questions nor asked if how much liquid we were carrying, and we didn’t even get x rayed! EEK!
An annoying guy who I saw at the Sunday pool party started chatting me up, and wouldn’t shut up, so after I checked in, I went across the street to a coffee shop and ordered a coffee with Grand Marnier for 2,800 colones (about $5) just to get away from him. Once I heard our plane land, I finally walked back over to our “terminal” (which was the same as the check in “office” and “security”).
We walked up to the plane and I noticed that one of the tires wasn’t fully inflated and I freaked out a little, but I didn’t say anything. I should really learn to speak up!
We boarded our flight and they checked our name off a list after looking at our hand written ticket and let us on. You get to choose your seat, but there’s only about 20 to choose from. I made sure to steer clear of Chatty Cathy (aka, Brian), but I ended up in front of a guy who claimed to have drank “too much coffee.” Pretty sure he was tweaking out on something. I made sure to lean forward most of the flight, JUST IN CASE.
We landed just fine, but I kept my eye on the tire and may have prayed a little. Now, onto my next mission, find my best friend Iris who came in on an international flight and we had no way of contacting each other. Luckily, her flight was a little delayed so we got in around the same time and I caught her right as she walked out near the taxis. Now it was time to figure out how to head North to Monteverde/Santa Elena!