Five Signs You’ve Landed in Costa Rica

erika

It can be hectic preparing for an upcoming vacation. You have to set up an Out Of Office reply on your work email, pack, and…well, OK maybe it isn’t as stressful as I thought.

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My boyfriend and I recently returned from a week long adventure in Costa Rica. The trip exceeded my expectations and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an outdoor adventure not too far from New England. There was plenty of zip lining, frozen drinks, incredible scenery, and unpaved, winding mountainous roads to drive our rental car up.

We encountered a lot of things over our week long trip, but some things stood out more to me than others. Here’s a list of five things you’ll probably come across if you ever visit this beautiful country!

1) Street Signs and Addresses Are Everywhere!

 

Just kidding! This first one is a total trick. You won’t see many street signs or addresses at all in Costa Rica. I found this mind boggling and did some research on it after the trip. According to this Wall Street Journal article from 2012, almost a quarter of the mail in Costa Rica is returned undeliverable because of the lack of addresses! Addresses are solely based on distance and direction from landmarks like a tree or a McDonald’s.  

Finding our first Airbnb apartment quickly turned into a scene out of The Amazing Race. The directions we had were to drive “200 meters northeast of Universidad Latina. Apartment color is terracotta with mesh gate.” To put things in perspective, there are a ton of apartments in this area and they are all surrounded by mesh gates.

Once we arrived in the right city, I held up a picture of the apartment from the Airbnb website listing while my boyfriend drove us from one street to the next. We inspected every apartment, looking back and forth from the picture to the streets in search of our terracotta castle.

What happened next? After a few hours of unsuccessful apartment hunting, our Airbnb host had to pick us up in the university’s parking lot. Welcome to Costa Rica!

2) Sloths (but mostly through a giant telescope)

 

OK, now on to things that do exist! Sloths! They are a big reason why we decided to visit Costa Rica. I was so excited to see one of my favorite animals in the wild, being adorable and moving very slowly. We did see sloths, but I will warn you that it took a few days to see the first one and they are incredibly hard to find!

Sloths are not extinct, and they live all over Costa Rica. They are well hidden in the trees (and not to mention nocturnal) so unless you luck out or are with a guide carrying a tripod telescope, you probably won’t see them all too often. We got lucky once, but the majority of sloths we saw were through the magical tripod telescope lens.

If you have the opportunity to hang out with a guide for a few hours in one of Costa Rica’s national parks, I highly recommend it! Just make sure he or she brings the telescope!

There he is!

There he is!

3) Quench Your Thirst with a Smoothie

This is a simple one. Fruit smoothies and milkshakes are on every menu in Costa Rica. The fruit is ripe and delicious. The smoothies are refreshing. At most places you can pick multiple fruits for your smoothie.  

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4) Du nu nu nu nu nu bat land!

Fun fact: Did you know there are more bats in Costa Rica than birds?

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While we were in Monteverde, we visited The Bat Jungle and learned all about these mammal critters. Bats are the main reason why mosquitos are not a huge problem in Costa Rica. One bat alone will eat thousands of mosquitoes in a single night! So gross, but so awesome!

There are over 1,000 bat species in the world and more than 100 species are found in Costa Rica. While most bats are on the smaller side, the the giant golden-crowned flying fox has a wingspan that can be greater than five feet! (Also, it’s face resembles that of a dog or fox.)

5) Pura Vida!

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Pura vida is a way of life and a phrase found on t-shirts in every single souvenir shop. Pura vida literally means “pure life” but is used in all different ways in Costa Rica. People say it instead of hello or goodbye, they use it to answer the question “How are you doing?”, it’s even as a way to give thanks.

Pura vida is a feeling, an emotion, and also a great thing to cheers to as you raise a frozen daiquiri on the beach while watching the sunset.

Have you taken an awesome trip recently? What was the best part of your adventure?

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