Pura Vida.

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Friday, December 10, 2004

Pura Vida or Pure Life, you hear it everywhere you go in Costa Rica, from smiling Ticos and Ticas, the locals around here. The country is absolutely beautiful, with amazing palm fringed white beaches dotting two different oceans, heaps of national parks, reserves, rainforest, cloud forest, mountain ranges, wild rivers and volcanos. Add to that the exotic wildlife and near perfect climate (in my opinion.) I guess that's just the right ingredients for mass tourism, or more importantly, a perfect place to live. It may certainly make you wonder why you spend six months in Norway or so scraping ice from the car window, before going to see your grumpy manager at work. In total darkness or constant twilight that is, waiting for the sun that may or may not come in the summer. So far on this trip, Costa Rica should probably be my favorite country. Except it's almost too perfect. From what I can see, everything works here. Except maybe a few bad roads and certain somewhat erratic bus connections. I believe it's done deliberately, to keep some tourists away, in order to minimize the impact in certain areas. Because the country is crowded with them, mainly North Americans.

The country is very stable and prosperous, with a long democratic tradition. It has escaped some of the brutal conflicts and grinding poverty in contrast to for example Guatemala and Nicaragua. They don't even have an army here. All this I guess, and the constant flow of tourists over several years, has made the country quite a bit more expensive than it's northern isthmus neighbors. Not just because everything costs more, but also because there's so much to do and see here. And everything costs. So much in fact, that many low budget backpackers traveling through Central America more or less skip visiting altogether.

I still have a bit to see in Costa Rica before I head off to Panama, so we will have to see if I consider it my favorite country on this trip so far. Or if possibly the overall costs and sheer number of tourists will instead make Nicaragua or Guatemala number one. No matter what, they are all great places to travel. In the end I guess it's not about favorite countries, but the different experiences you make and the people you meet.

Pura Vida!
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