To me Mallorca is like a small continent. Now, compared to my favorite island Costa Rica seems to be a whole universe. And the facts about bio diversity and climate zones support this idea. But it holds true to me in a much broader sense. Between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean there is just so much to discover. Knowing my passion for the sea you won’t be surprised that I spent half of my journey at the two coasts alone.
The Caribbean and its laid-back atmosphere, friendly people and bright sunny days got me right away. I even loved the occasional tropical rain showers at night. No better place than the colorful hammock on my sheltered veranda where I would listen to the sounds of the jungle and the waves, simply enjoying the present. Unwilling to travel further but curious enough to discover if and how the Pacific coast were different. So I hit the road again, heading for the mountains first to visit some of Costa Rica’s unique National Parks.
Driving across the country it struck me that no matter how small a village each had its own school. This is the result of a bold decision Costa Rica made more than 70 years ago: it abolished its military. Today the country is a striking example of what happens when a complete defense budget is spent on education and health care. On the way I frequently stopped some place along the road to have lunch. Some variation of gallo pinto or casado maybe, the Costa Rican classics based on rice and beans you get any time of the day. Or a ceviche, the traditional seafood dish made from raw fish cured in citrus juice.
Either way, I never left without a caffeine fix. Costa Rica is paradise for coffee aficionados. The climatic conditions in the highlands – mild and humid – are perfect for the slow growth and ripening of the coffee cherries. Making the coffee most intense and aromatic. Filter coffee has only been slowly dripping back into European coffee shops. In Costa Rica though, each and every soda (as the small eateries are called) offers a decent chorreado.
Eventually I drove down to Puntarenas to catch the ferry boat to Nicoya. The Pacific peninsula welcomed me with a hot and dry breeze. Following dusty gravel roads I visited places like Montezuma or Sámara, no longer insider’s tips but no less charming and authentic. So easy to feel at home between my favorite ice cream parlor and sunset bar. With the beaches still looking like they had jumped right out of a travel ad: lonely stretches of spotless white sand, lined with lush palm trees to one side and an ever-so-turquoise Pacific to the other. Pura vida.
Read more about Costa Rica’s unique tropical rainforest in my previous post.