Costa Rica by Judith

Trip Start Jun 17, 2011
Trip End Jun 17, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hotel Cabinas Carolina Los Chiles
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Alajuela,
Thursday, September 1, 2011

We knew we had arrived on another planet when the first thing we saw as we stepped off the boat at Los Chiles in Costa Rica was a large billboard that advised 'Think about the Future'. Planning ahead is not apparent in other Latin American countries we have visited, probably due to the long years of political and economic uncertainity they have experienced. Immediately and conspicuously more prosperous than Nicaragua despite being a remote and minor border town, Los Chiles was a staging post on our way to La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano.  We ended up spending five days in La Fortuna with an additional two day trip to the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
The Nicas call Costa Rica the Switzerland of Central America, more I think due to its neutrality and refusal to join ALBA (the league of eleven Central American and Caribean countries) than its cleanliness. Clean it is though, with barely a piece of litter to be seen. Anyone dropping litter faces a $200 fine and the wrath of fellow countrymen. We were travelling in a minibus when the driver in front threw litter out of his window and our driver got very irate, hooting his horn, flashing his lights and shouting. The Ticos (Costa Ricans) recognise that what they have is an incredibly beautiful and environmentally rich and diverse country and want to keep it that way. The downside as a backpacker is that tourism is heavily controlled, with high entry charges to national parks and most parks difficult to access unless you join an organised tour. We did this for the first time here, going on a two night, three day package to Tortuguero on the Caribean North coast to see the green turtles lay their eggs. The whole country really is a wildlife wonderland, but I'll leave all that to my naturalist partner to write about.
Costa Rica did away with its army in 1948, declaring that it would have an army of teachers instead. The only real challenge to this pacifist stance appears to have been when the incumbent Tico president at the time of the US/UK invasion of Iraq, declared, to the collective horror of his people, support for this illegal venture. Not surprisingly he was roundly defeated in the 2006 elections and the incoming president imediately revoked his country's support, declaring Costa Rica a neutral and pacifist country that does not lend support to wars of any kind.
Costa Rica has clearly benefitted from over 60 years of investment in infrastructure, education, health and the environment rather than arms. Not to mention limited US interference in its internal affairs. It was the easiest (although most expensive) country to travel in so far, which turned out to be very fortunate given we both had bad colds while we were there.

Apologies for how boring this particular blog is, but on reflection, I think this sums up Costa Rica for me - with the exception of the wildlife (see Sandra s subsequent blogs), it was quite boring. Now Panama....absolutely fascinating by contrast. But I need to process our experiences in Panama before I am ready to write about them.

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June on

Certainly not boring, keep em coming! x

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