We completely changed our original travel plans when we were in Bocas del Toro. Originally we wanted to go back to the Pacific Ocean and head to Costa Rica on the West Coast. But we decided to spend some more time in the Caribbean and therefore we crossed the border on the East Coast side in Sixaola. We read so many things online on difficulties with border crossings. There was no clear “one best way”. After also calculating all our expenses with fees and transportation we decided that a couple of dollars more on having an “organised” border crossing experience is well worth the little extra money. So we booked a tour at our hostel’s front desk in Bocas. If I remember correctly, we – again – had some troubles with the perception of “time does not exist”. Somehow people in Central America can live very well without schedules. But in the end, it all worked out and we arrived a couple of hours later in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
There we stayed in a very interesting hostel: first of all it was approximately 20 min by bike away from the center of the village. The second, and I guess most astonishing fact was that the hostel was one gigantic treehouse without window glass. It was called Walaba Hostel and was located right across the street of Playa Punta Uva.
Esther and me arrived in the afternoon and didn’t really want to do much this evening. We walked a bit along the beach, the weather was not too good, but therefore I didn’t have to fear that my already-bad sunburn became even worse (#storyofmylife). We rented bikes from the hostel (which we could only pay in the local currency Colón and were of horrible quality). We biked into the center of the village with a pit stop at an ice cream shop. Another lesson learned: be informed about exchange rates before making any purchases because otherwise it might happen that you pay 7$ for 2 scoops of ice cream. Continuing our trip to the city center we did some grocery shopping for the next day and had dinner.
After a night alone in an 8-people bedroom and with the constant background noise of howler monkeys we headed to the beach and enjoyed the sunshine. Lucky us – we even got to taste a freshly opened coconut right from the palm tree. Some locals were so nice and opened it with their machete. Coconut water in some sort of tetrapak back in Europe in comparison to that experience simply is hideous.
In the afternoon we walked over to a small “jungle” island which we could see from our beach spot. It was quite impressive to walk with flip flops, a bikini bottom and a tshirt through gigantic trees, red ants of the size of one inch, and hanging lianas.
In the evening we splurged again on dinner and some incredibly delicious cocktails. I am not sure anymore but I think we had white sangria and vino de verano. We biked all the way back to the hostel again (bought some pineapple and other fruits for breakfast) with only the little led light on our iPhones. Believe me, this was so weird, yet fun and also dangerous (alcohol!) at the same time.
The next day we got up early and headed down to the main street to wait for the bus via Limón to San José. Noone really knew when it would come or where it would stop. The most exact description we received was “It runs 3 times a day and you just gotta wave at the bus driver.” All right! First time I had pineapple for breakfast on the side of the road waiting for a bus. We were lucky and only had to wait for appx. one hour.
In San José we had to somehow get to another station. If the schedule was correct we didn’t have much time and had to be quick, yet careful because white girls in a city they don’t know can soon turn into victims of unnecessary kilometres driven in an expensive taxi. But we were soooo lucky: our cab driver even accompanied us to the station after he parked the car at a gas station nearby. “Gracias amigo!” The next bus brought us all the way to Santa Elena/ Monteverde – the real jungle of Costa Rica. 12 hours for only 370 km – well, yes, in Central America you gotta have time!
In Santa Elena, I unfortunately fell sick. Must have caught a stomach bug somewhere and so I stayed in bed for the next three days after one morning hike in Santa Elena. That is also why we never headed out to Tamarindo or Playa Santa Teresa. Esther went horseback riding once and another evening we went on a nature walk where she saw a variety of wild animals. I enjoyed my electrolyte water and shared my bananas with the monkeys at our hotel. The good thing was I was not alone, a nice American guy was also sick and so I had someone to talk to while eating noodle soup for some time.
Next up was Nicaragua. But more on that a little later!