When I got back from Costa Rica, I was overflowing with advice for would be travelers.  I was going to spit it all out on my trusty blog for all to see.  I put it off a bit, and I think I forgot most of it, but I’ll see what I can remember.  If you had the misfortune of finding my blog through a search engine, or insomnia-fueled-random link-clicking, you should know a bit about my travel agenda; my goals were to do some surfing, see some monkeys, and spend as little money as possible.  If you have other plans for a trip to Costa Rica, some of this might be useful some might not. 

Espanol:  It’s what they speak down there.  Don’t worry if you don’t.  It’d be nice to be able to converse with the locals, but you don’t have time to learn a new language you’ll be fine.  I would recommend a phrase book.  Lonely Planet’s has such vital phrases as “What time does the bus come?”  ” What sports do you enjoy?” and “Yeah, tiger!”

Getting around:  The buses are hot, they stop for anyone standing on the road, there’s no leg room (if you get a seat) and if you aren’t careful somebody might steal your backpack.  They are definitely the best way to get around the country.  If you’re having trouble finding you’re bus, you can usually donate a couple hundred colones to the local bi-lingual bum.  He gets some mota, you get a cheap translator, everybody wins!

Were to go:  Not Costa Rica.  That is, not just Costa Rica, I spent a week in Panama and wish I’d spent more.  I also heard great things about Nicaragua, Guatamala, Belize, El Salvador, etc.  If you’re American, you probably want to tell me that you heard Costa Rica is a lot safer than the rest of Central America.  Based on hearsay and anecdotal evidence, I would say that the only big difference between Costa Rica and the rest of Central America is the prices (everywhere else is cheaper). 

More specifically were to go:  Mal Pias was great, but if you don’t like surfing (or otherwise playing in waves) it might not be your cup of cerveza.  I also really enjoyed Bocas Del Toro, just across the border in Panama.  Manuel Antonio is full of monkeys, and everybody likes monkeys.  Corcovado, a place I did not visit, is supposedly equally stocked with monkeys, but not so much with people.  I didn’t go but heard it was great.  I really like monkeys.

Next installment, what to bring, my favorite hostels and how to make friends…

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