Like always, all good things must come to an end, and alas that is happening now with my time in Costa Rica. Before coming here, I was extremely nervous because I was worried that two months was going to be too long of a time to live here, but now it seems like that time was too short. I was also nervous beforehand because all I knew about San Ramon was that the weather app thinks it rains there 24/7, and that one retiree thought others should not live there because it had “strange weather”. After spending almost two months here, I debunked both of those stories and found out many retirees live here, to the point that they have their own nonprofit organization, and that the weather app is a liar. These are just two examples of things that I found out to be different once I arrived here, but there were many more. Therefore, I would like to share with everyone a couple of things I wish I knew before coming to Costa Rica.
- Even though it is the rainy season, that doesn’t mean it rains 24/7.
As I said earlier, my weather app made me think that I would not be able to leave the house any day. So, I bought new rainboots, a backpack cover, and rain pants. Once I got here, I only ended up using the rainboots once. I found out that if it does rain, its only for a short period of the day. I also realized that the rain is refreshing and not to be afraid of it. If you have the chance, go for a swim when it’s raining, I loved doing that here.
- Timing is difficult
If you’ve heard of island time, a similar thing exists in Costa Rica. It makes it a little difficult to make plans because people will either show up 15 minutes early, on time, or an hour late, and you don’t know which one it will be. The view of time in Costa Rica becomes especially tricky when traveling by bus, because there is no exact time that the bus comes at every time. So, I found the best way to deal with this difference is to always be early.
- Getting around by bus is quite time consuming even though the country is so small
As I mentioned before, there is no exact bus schedule which is one of the reasons traveling in Costa Rica is a little difficult. The other reason is that there are barely any direct busses, and this can make a trip that would take 4 hours in a car be 7 hours in a bus. This is mainly because of transfers and stops. Therefore, I wouldn’t say to avoid the busses, but to take into account that it can take you a full day to travel across Costa Rica.
P.S. If you are considering renting a car, it does bring the time down, but it costs around $80-100 a day.
- Get ready to eat a lot of rice.
Rice is a staple in the Costa Rican diet, so get ready to eat it in some kind of form for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert.
- San Jose is not somewhere you want to spend a lot of time
Unlike most capitals of countries, San Jose is not one that has many tourist attractions. The main places to visit there are museums and the soccer stadium, which even then, that can be done in a day.
- Ask locals for recommendations
Locals are the best tour guides! They will be able to tell you where the best places are, how much they cost, and even recommendations for places that tourists don’t go. I got the chance to visit many viewpoints and waterfalls near San Ramon because of this. Best part was that all of these attractions were free, and had no tourists.
- Solo traveling is not that scary.
As I mentioned at the beginning I was really scared about moving to San Ramon for two months without ever meeting anyone there. I am from a big city (Chicago), so I was convinced that I would be miserable in such a small town. But, I found out that the size of the town helped me make more friends, and ended up being an advantage.
I was also nervous about making friends while here. But, I ended up learning that to make friends I had to put myself out there and when I would travel over the weekend to stay in hostels. I met some of the coolest people while in hostels, and from all over the world.
Overall, I learned a lot during my time here, but the most important thing that I was reminded of while here is that life is short, so we don’t have time to stress too much, we have to enjoy what we have while we do. I am not too surprised that I learned this here since this is the country of ‘pura vida. ’
Hasta Luego Costa Rica!