I wish I had more time to 1.) have 2.) properly share profound travel thoughts, but I’m back in the grind, doing all of the things to make them dollar dollar bills so that I may GO MORE PLACES because this trip, moreso than any other, has inspired and challenged me to save said bills and create the time to GO EVERYWHERE, SEE EVERYTHING (Iceland! Peru! New Zealand! Morocco! Scotland!) , gain perspective, and climb things. So, in lieu of a narrative non-fiction travel section NYT essay in which I would probably attempt some crappy metaphors and say Amazing 700 times and talk way too much about plantains: A List of why Costa Rica it is the Best.
1.) The PEOPLE are incredibly content. They don’t have much, there is a soothing absence of strip malls which sort of makes you feel immediately like you need less. Costa Rica hasn’t had an army since 1948, and they are dang proud of this. Subsequently, their education and healthcare systems are totally killing it. Tourism provides tons of jobs, and you can just tell, with every person you interact with: they are happy.
2.) THE FOOD. The finest of hot sauces and sweet fried plantains and the best pork chops in your life. Everywhere you look, the freshest pineapple and mango and papaya and watermelon you ever did see.
3.) LACK OF STUPID STUFF. Like I said before, it’s quite touristy, but also like I said before, most of the country is untouched by commercialism. Even the touristy parts aren’t shouting at you with billboards and signs. I remember driving across the US for the first time and feeling this surprising disappointment to see the same strip mall in every town. And Old Navy with a Petsmart with a Pier One. I hate how comforted I am when I see a Starbucks. Like: this place is safe. Costa Rica is comfortable, but also feels like you’re somewhere else. And as you coast through it, there are unpaved roads, tiny and simple towns with just one store (because really, you only need one store.) So much untouched beauty.
4.) To totally contradict my last point: FREE. WIRELESS. EVERYWHERE.
5.) THE BOYS. Everywhere. They’re asking you to dance and harnessing you to a zipline and pouring your tequila. They’re sweet and strong with dark eyes and white white teeth and they call you honey but not in a weird way, like they’re simultaneously pulling you into to dance without asking while also offering to carry your luggage but also help you fix your flat but also recite a poem in Spanish while you fall asleep.
6.) PURA VIDA. Daria told me this before I went but I didn’t get it until I got there: Pura Vida is something everyone says to each other. It seems to mean many, many things. Like hi, and also bye, and also take care, and also have fun, but more specifically: let it go, life is wondrous, be here now. As much as you don’t want to sound like the gringa who’s been there for five minutes and is overusing her two words of Spanish, you can’t help it, and before you know it, you’re shouting it, to everyone.
7.) JULIEN PATTON, my oldest friend, my marvelous and adventurous and tolerant travel companion, who is not necessarily only found in Costa Rica.