The Road Less Traveled

It is nearly impossible not to come back fully relaxed from one of our top favorite travel destinations: Costa Rica. The easy packing and unpacking from this trip is enough to sell itself. A near-perfect climate from November through March allows for wearing little more than tank tops, board shorts, and if you’re feeling fancy, the occasional sun-dress or sarong.

Costa Rica has many popular touristy and resort destinations on both the Caribbean and Pacific side, but if you venture a bit farther off the paved roads, you can wind the coast along the bumpy and dusty trails of the Necoya peninsula. There, you will certainly stumble on some hidden gems.

On this peninsula, in the casa we briefly call home, an aging rooster lives nearby. We know he’s getting old because he crows at all hours of the night whenever someone in the sparsely populated neighborhood turns on a bathroom light. Cut him some slack, it is otherwise pitch black. Minimal light pollution is one of the many perks when you’re a two-and-a-half hour bus ride from the nearest international airport or a five+ hour chicken bus from the capital city of San Jose (yes sometimes even chickens catch a ride).

Here, just before dawn, the chirping bats return like college kids out drinking. They squeak and wrestle for the most comfortable spot to nestle under the roof overhang. Three floors up dangling upside down, they tuck in against the protective bug screen, snuggled up with an ocean view after a long night out of easy feasting.

If the birds, bats, or the senior rooster does not stir you, then the scent of locally grown coffee brewing surely will. You’re on vacation, why not top off your cup with a dash of Cafe Rica?! (A smooth, rum based coconut/coffee liqueur.) This leaves you perfectly amped for a bike ride down the jungle path for an early surf session.

Unless you are a seriously heavy sleeper. Then, the last alarm no one can snooze through comes, the roars of Howler Monkeys. The dinosaur pipes on this crew shake you wide awake as they leap from tree to tree, sometimes with newborns clinging on to mom’s back. How does so much sound come from something so small?

Now, you are awake, alive, and every single window in the casa is open. By 10am the humidity pushes you outside like a champagne cork. During the heat of the day, the wisest place to be is posted up with the ocean breeze and some shade, flipping pages.

Here the jungle stays in perfect balance tucked against the sea. When you’ve had enough relaxing, the flip side awaits: running along suspended swinging bridges among the Cloud Forest in the trees, Superman Suit flying, zip lining (complete with Tarzan-drops from the canopy)--not to mention, surfing, beach bike-riding, slack-lining, and of course, local micro brews that slip into nights of live music, dancing, and open-mics.

You forget, for a moment, about politics and what is happening outside the jungle.

And oh, the food! The freshest possible fruit: machete-opened coconuts, plantations packed full of mangos, papaya, lemons and limes picked straight off the tree and into the hem of your shirt IF you can hold it all. There is ice-cream like you’ve never had it before, delicious fish casados, and always rice and beans. Of course there are tacos, tacos, tacos, and fresh tamales delivered hot, straight off the backs of motorbikes. Keep an eye out too, for a man wandering dirt roads singing, EMPANADAS, a warm picnic basket tucked under his arm.

The Costa Rican jungle is generous because it is alive. In a single day you will see racing iguanas, kudamundi (as if a Meer cat made love to a raccoon), monkeys, scorpions, tarantulas, rainbow-colored butterflies, and humming birds feasting on flowers of every shape and color.  When we were last there in December, dozens of mama Olive Ridley Turtles arrived, crawling from the sea to lay their eggs deep in the sand so that 30 days later tiny versions can run back to surf the waves from where it all began.

Costa Rica is one with nature and all that comes along with it. A friendly gecko or two may join you in the shower but they are most welcome masters of keeping down the bug population. Insects enjoy the same safety and security of walls. Four, six, and even sometimes eight legged critters crawl inside for a visit.

Even the local two-legged species are rarely problematic.  There is little violent crime in Costa Rica, the local and tourist police do not even carry guns. But because these communities are an assimilation of ex-pats and local Ticos and Ticas, petty crime is prevalent.  We strive to travel with purpose: be kind, aware, and confident. Support and contribute to the open-minded and respectful artistic community here and in return, relish in the shared beauty of this pristine tropical surfing paradise.

If you want to discover what Pura Vida (Pure Life) really means in the bathtub warm water of the Pacific, there is luxury on all levels for all budgets around the world. However, taking the road less traveled, may lead to a story not yet told.

Surf, Practice, Perform. Escape, Unwind, Repeat.  

- Six O'Clock Studios

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