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.
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.
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.
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 (: