costa rica: the “plan”

A week from Sunday, I’ll be in Costa Rica. This trip certainly snuck up on me, but it couldn’t have arrived at a better time, either. When it comes to living and breathing in nyc, I need a break every now and… always.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the art of traveling alone. I’m excited that every decision will be mine, and the only expectation I have to uphold is my own. I can set my own pace, plan my own itinerary, meet the people I want to meet, talk to the people I want to talk to, and go to bed exactly when I’d like. (9pm? 3am?) It’ll be the most selfish nine days of my life… and I can’t wait.

Considering, though, that I’ve spent more time thinking about how I’m traveling by myself than actually planning my trip, it’s time to buckle down and figure out what I want to do and what sort of stuff I need to figure out prior. So here is a working to-do list, more useful for me than anything else:

Learn a few words in spanish. So far I only know “hola,” “adios,” and “cervesa.” I bet it’s worth knowing a few more. 

Finalize travel documents.  I should make a few copies of my passport. There’s a chance I need my yellow fever vaccination card since I traveled in Ghana. I deeefinitely need to call the airline and change my last name on my plane ticket, since I spelled it wrong. (That’s embarrassing.) 

Decide what I’m doing about work. At first this trip was my chance to unplug from everything. But now I’m realizing if I don’t check my email for nine days, my inbox will probably give me a heart attack (maybe several) when I come back. I may allow myself to organize the inbox a few times throughout the trip. 

Pack? This will happen approximately an hour before I leave for the airport. Not worried there.

…Figure out where I want to go. Aside from a booked hostel the first night in San Jose (I’m getting in late and found something super close to the airport), I have absolutely no plans. The hardest part is I simply want to see everything, and I know once I get my bearings straight I’ll have a much better idea of where I want to go/how much time I’ll need. But until that happens, I’ve kind of narrowed down the places I really, really want to see:

The Sloth Sanctuary. Okay. A big reason I decided to go to Costa Rica was because of the sloths. If all I do is sit in this sanctuary for a week and a half and stare at them, I’ll probably still have the best vacation ever.

sloth

Monteverde is a major ecotourism destination spot, filled with cloud forests, coffee plantations, monkeys, zip-lining, and tree house hotels. There’s a 7am bus from San Jose, so I’ll probably hop on that after my first night and spend a few days frolicking in the forest.

Montezuma. Something is pulling me here for a few odd reasons. Montezuma is a small, bohemian beach town tucked away in the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific side. While the pacific coast tends to be way more developed and touristy (think: all inclusives), this town is touted for its youthful, hippie, and relaxed vibe. It also happens to be the name of the first track of Fleet Foxes’s Helplessness Blues, a song and album that holds a special place in my heart. Unfortunately, Montezuma is far away from everywhere else I want to go, but I still want to make it happen.

via

Puerto Viejo is the largest town on the Caribbean coast — the side I want to explore most. This coast is known for its laid-back, Afro-Caribbean population, with less tourists and more culture. I want to make some Rastafarian friends, go white-water rafting, and hang out with monkeys.

Tortuguero is difficult to get to, which is exactly why I want to go. There are no roads to Tortuergo — a National Park in the Limon Province — which means you need to take a plane or boat to get there. (I’ll choose the latter.) There are canal tours, turtle museums, jungle strolls, and more. The best part is even though January is “peak season” for Costa Rica, it’s “off-peak” for Tortuguero, since turtle hatching season is from July through October. I’m banking on things being a liiiittle less crowded/cheaper. Plus, I’ve already seen the little turtles do their “being born” thing in Ghana.

GHANA 965

Sooo that’s what I have so far! And even though I have a basic idea of where I want to go, I totally know it could change within a heartbeat. I may meet a bunch of backpackers my first night and follow suit. Or a local could tell me I have it all wrong and suggest other places to go. I honestly can’t really picture what this trip will look like, which is what makes it that much more exciting.

Oh! And if anyone was wondering about my marathon training while I’m away..I am 100 percent completely not sticking to my plan while traveling. If this somehow screws up my sub3:30 goal, then so be it (although I doubt it will). Between hiking, swimming, yoga, and maaaybe the seven push-ups I’ll do, I think my fitness will survive (: 

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About Laura

marketing director at Possible. formerly at Greatist. Still running, finding zen, and searching for the perfect bloody mary.

Posted on January 11, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Hey! That is awesome you are traveling to Costa Rica by yourself! You have a hefty to do list while here. My husband and I have lived here for about 9 months. We live in a city near San Jose but have traveled to a few beach towns. Last time we talked to some locals here they recommended we stay away from Puerto Viejo. I don’t want to frighten you, but there has been some unmentioned crimes going on. We heard bc there was some drug carteling (sp?) cut off. If you do decide to go, just be aware of your surroundings. I wouldn’t walk around at night alone. One of my friends traveled there with her English class and she didn’t think it was all that great.
    We just went to Manuel Antonio. It was awesome! There is a national park as well, and it’s pretty cool! Think monkeys!! It’s closed on Mondays, just FYI.
    Monte verde is great too! Some great zip lining and bungy jumping!
    I would rec going to a volcano while your here too. Poas volcano is pretty amazing. I know there are tours you can book and get a coffee plantation tour included.
    Ok those are my two cents. You will have a wonderful time I’m sure! I hope you learn some more Spanish :)) (we r terrible)

    • Thanks for all the info! Obviously safety is my #1 concern, so I don’t plan on being out late by myself around town. Volcano= a great idea, too. I may go up to Arenal after Monteverde. Want to fit it all in!

  2. Some key spanish phrases:
    Donde esta el bano? (where is the bathroom, pronounced don-day esta el bon-yo).

    Muchas gracias: Thank you very much

    Por favor: please

    But you will probably find its very english friendly….can’t wait to hear about your trip after you get back! Sounds like some great itinerary items!

  3. Keep me posted on how you do with the Spanish! I’m going on a (now solo) trip to Spain at the end of February and am thinking I need to learn some Spanish myself…

  4. So excited for you Laura!!! Please take lots of pictures of monkeys for me :)

    Be safe, of course, have fun, and soak it all in! I can’t wait to hear all about it when you get back!!

  5. Hola, como estas (hi how are you?),

    I am super jealous of your trip! You’ll have a great time. I travelled to Mexico City and other parts of Mexico by myself last year and it was amazing. People are so friendly and even a little bit of Spanish goes a long way.

    Don’t be too worried about safety. I mean, obviously be smart but don’t let fears stop you from doing what you want. I heard so many horror stories and ‘warnings’ of Mexico City- but I felt safe always.

    Muy buena suerte! I look forward to reading your about your trip!

    p.s. If anyone asks “tienes novio?” (do you have a boyfriend), probably best to say yes if you don’t want a long conversation :)

    • hHaha, tienes novio is probably the best phrase to know, so thank you for that! I plan of just telling people “my husband went to the bathroom!” if anyone asks.

  6. Hola, como estas (hi how are you?),

    I am super jealous of your trip! You’ll have a great time. I travelled to Mexico City and other parts of Mexico by myself last year and it was amazing. People are so friendly and even a little bit of Spanish goes a long way.

    Don’t be too worried about safety. I mean, obviously be smart but don’t let fears stop you from doing what you want. I heard so many horror stories and ‘warnings’ of Mexico City- but I felt safe always.

    Muy buena suerte! I look forward to reading your about your trip!

    p.s. If anyone asks “tienes novio?” (do you have a boyfriend), probably best to say yes if you don’t want a long conversation

  7. so you will be in the country I got married in on my 3rd anniversary of getting married there :) Jealous! Wish we were going back to check it all out. There is SO much more to do and see than we had a chance during our 5 short days (including all the wedding festivities). I will definitely be picking your brain for ideas once we do get the chance to go back!! Have so, so much fun. I can’t wait to see pics and read about it!! xoxo

    • Right, I knew that!! Whereabouts in Costa Rica was your wedding? I’m (not so) secretly wondering if I’ll meet my future husband down there, soooo send down those wedding vibes. (OH goodness i’m not sure if I’m kidding..)

      • Ooooohhh! The photographer/wedding planner/bartenders were all SUPER cuties! And the people there are SO nice. We got married in Guanacaste, on the Bay of Papagayo.

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