Forget the Kardashians. My Costa Rica Digs Are Better.
There has been some ballyhoo about the members of U.S. reality-show royalty arriving in Costa Rica and setting up their reanimated plastic corpses at Papagayo Peninsula’s Villa Mazu. The price per night? Twenty-three thousand dollars. Towards the other end of the spectrum, I’ve rented a furnished studio apartment near downtown San José. There is a slight difference in price. I calculate that, given my monthly rate, I could afford to stay exactly 62 seconds in Villa Mazu. And I couldn’t be happier.
I Too Have A Great View
Sure, it’s not the pristine rainforest, but I do have a little balcony where I drink coffee in the morning and read in the evening. In the foreground is the low-slung skyline of San José; in the background, the Talamanca Mountains. Even with the rumbling buses, screaming trains, and honking taxis, I find the sounds of the urban jungle comforting. They mean that there are real working people all around me.
I Have The Real Costa Rica At My Fingertips
There is nobody in a crisp white shirt waiting in the shadows, ready to cater to my every desire. Instead, I’m surrounded by two-and-a-half million people who together offer all the services you’d expect in a big city. If I’m hungry or thirsty, there are at least 50 bars and restaurants a short walk away. If I need an article of clothing or something for my kitchen, Avenida Central is bursting with shops. And if want to get away from the daily din of the big city, I just have to walk to the bus station, grab a taxi, or hop on the train. No need to wait for a hermetically sealed shuttle bus. I get to travel with the people.
Oh, The Ticos
Costa Rica is known for its incredible biodiversity, and rightfully so. After all, this tiny Central American country covers less than .01% of the Earth’s landmass, but houses over 5% of its biodiversity. You can see the sunrise on the Caribbean, have lunch in the mountains, and watch the sunset over the Pacific in the same day.
More than the flora and fauna, adventure activities, and spas, do you know what travelers to Costa Rica rate as their favorite aspect of the country? The Ticos. For me, there is nothing better than watching a soccer game in a little bar and listening to the music of the Costa Ricans’ particular brand of Spanish. Costa Ricans are known for their sense of humor, hospitality, and joie de vivre. It’s hard to experience this when one spends one’s trip inside of a gated compound, insulated from the rest of the world. I much prefer to sit on a park bench in Heredia and chat with the lottery vendor, watch children play in the fountains at the Plaza de la Cultura, or listen to the fishmongers bark in the Mercado Central.
Luxury is nice, but I prefer the real world to be my reality show. There are no commercial breaks, I get to truly know the characters, and in the end I feel like I’ve experienced something different. And I have. I’ve experienced the real Costa Rica.