We learned a lot about Costa Rica in our short stay, about 45 days. We knew it would be different than Mexico, but we had gotten so use to Mexico that the changes seemed bigger or more monumental. So here are a couple unique things about Costa Rica that you might not know.
Costa Ricans say “Pura Vida” for everything. The word actually means Good Life, but today it can mean just about anything, at any time and any place. So the meaning isn’t always that clear! Here is an example I found hanging in a restaurant. ⇐⇐⇐
You might hear someone talking about going to a Soda. A “soda“ sounds like a drink in a can to us gringos. But a soda is a family-run restaurant where the menu could be changed each day and/or written on the wall. It is a casual, comfy place that the locals go to get their favorite food and us foreigners to get a taste of their food.
What is the Costa Ricans favorite food? It is a traditional meal called Casados. The word actually means “married men”. It clearly doesn’t mean that in this context. It is said that the term for this meal might have originated when customers asked to be treated as a “Casados” (a Married man), since married men ate such meals at home. This meal consists of; rice, black beans, salad, meat (chicken, beef, pork, fish etc.) and plantains. It is delicious!
Coming from Mexico where service and cost of product is very inexpensive, we had a bit of an awaking with the “cost” in Costa Rica. Everything is just a bit more expensive than Mexico. Also when you go to a restaurant they add in “10% for gratuity” automatically . It is the law that they have this on the bill. You can tip more but you don’t have to. After being in Mexico for so long, we forgot that it isn’t always that cheap everywhere!
Costa Ricans have a unique way of keeping animals and people in/out of their land. “Living tree fences” are made with real trees planted in a row with some type of wire between them. It is very effective and much nicer looking then what we think of as a fence. There are sometimes large ditches to catch the rainfall. They put these in the towns too. Just ask me because I fell as I was stepping over one. I was fine, just a bit shook up.
In Costa Rica you can see right away how important palm oil is. “Palm Tree plantations” are abundant in particular areas of the country. In the Quepos area they were just about everywhere. What we learned is that these plantations are huge in size and in the middle of the plantations is a small town with locals that live and work the palms. They consider towns to have 3 things, a Church, a School and a Bar. These small towns looked similar to any other small town, they just had majority of the workers and their families. The process for picking the fruit is done on a rotation of every few weeks to get the ripened fruit bunches, they are very fast growing. They are cut down with a long pole and/or men climb up the trunk. A different person picks them up and hauls them to the local processing plant not far away. They also have to groom the trees and remove dead leaves and any old fruit. Hard Work!
Costa Rica has huge Rainforest and its beauty needs no word
After our return from our holiday with our family and friends in Portland Oregon, we started preparing for our trip to Golfito, Costa Rica. Yet another step towards the Panama Canal. Golfito area is the closest marina to the border where you can check out of the country. We left Pez Vela Marina mid-January and had decided to take one stop along the way at Bahia Drake. We stayed a couple nights, it was a nice anchorage. On the second day we put our dinghy down and took a cruise around the bay. We were told that at high tide you can get your small boat up a river to see monkeys . It took us a while to actually find the entrance as it was very hidden in the forest. We cruised up as far as we could and got lucky to see a couple monkeys along the suspension bridge.
The next day we headed to Golfito for our final check out of the country. We arrived to a small marina called Banana Bay Marina. It had a cute little cafe at the top of the dock and other boaters that are part of the “Panama Posse” were there, and we got to meet up with them. It was fun to meet people we had only chatted with on-line.
The Panama Posse is a group of boaters that are heading to Panama (all on their own schedule). By joining this group we get discounts at Marinas and learn from others that have done it before. We also have a chat line available to ask questions or get info.
We stayed stayed 5 nights at Banana bay Marina which allowed us to get all our paperwork done and get some provisions loaded before leaving the country. We did one adventure while we were in Golfito, we took a trip with a local guide through the mangroves to see all the birds, crocodiles and vegetation. He then took us to see a huge dolphin pod. We have seen so many dolphins I can’t even count…but this time we were down low in a small boat… a different point of view.
We were now ready to head to Panama, we had called Marina Vista Mar in Panama to let them know we were coming and would be taking a couple day to get there. It was approximately 300 nautical miles to our destination.
Watch for our next blog: Our “Terrorizing Cruise to Panama”. It is a Nail Biter for sure!