Some of you might be able to find Costa Rica on the map, and some of you might think I’ve moved to that territory of the U.S. that’s off the coast of FL. (That would be Puerto Rico, btw). But what most of you might not know is that Ticos* say there are “two” Costa Ricas--the Caribbean side, and then the rest of the country. Now, to be fair, this might only be how the non-Caribe Ticos think of their country; I didn’t actually ask the folks in Limón province (I’ll do that next time I go).
Being the intrepid travelers that we are, we ventured to the east to see the “other”Costa Rica this past week, and found it to be as lovely (and thought-provoking) as the rest of the country. Coconut trees everywhere, black-sand beaches with little crabs in holes, laid-back people enjoying the tropical breezes, poison dart frogs on our patio. No kidding.
After driving for nearly 5 hours (Puerto Viejo is only 160 miles away) to get to the Caribbean and enjoy the culture and food of this side of the country, the boys wanted to get pizza. PIZZA! Coconut rice, fresh fish, “Caribbean sauce” on all the menus, and the boys want pizza. Of course we said no. We’re good parents like that–force our kids to “enjoy” the culture into which we’ve plunged them whether they want to or not.
We stayed in a lovely little eco-resort owned by a French couple and their four german-shepherds. I’m proud to say that my Spanish is good enough that I could tell they spoke with a French accent. I’m sad to say that my French minor from college totally escaped me and every time I tried to say something to them in French, Spanish came out. Time for a trip to France.
As I do in the west side of the country, (and as I’m sure most travelers and expats anywhere do) I wondered at some of the things I find happening here. For example, why aren’t there garbage cans with lids in a country where homeless dogs are as common as mangos and these little critters abound.
It’s heartbreaking to see the garbage sacks ripped open and trash strewn beside the roads. Another “hummm” moment was when we were about 10 yards from a beautiful beach, and across the road was an abandoned hotel being taken over by the jungle. It was an incredible location and (was once) a nice looking hotel. The price of things are so inflated in Costa Rica, perhaps no one could afford to buy it? But if so, why wouldn’t the owner lower the price just to be done? Or why wouldn’t the bank have called it a loss and resold it cheap?
Have you ever traveled and had these moments of confusion and questioning about the country you are a guest in?
In any case, we had a great time and said goodbye to the Caribe after three nights, and came back to Grecia sandy, relaxed, and glad to have had a chance to see “the other Costa Rica”.
*what Costa Ricans call themselves