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Part I: Costa Rica Caribbean Coast, Puerto Viejo
Costa Rica is a country with many facets. It is located between two big oceans and it has different climatic zones, varying landscapes and a great diversity concerning its flora and fauna. Whereas you are well- advised to wear sweaters and pants in the capital San Jose, you can slowly start undressing yourself while getting closer to one of the coasts. The very diversity of Costa Rica has aroused my curiosity, therefore I decided to interrupt my internship at the beautiful Pacific coast and travel to the Caribbean for one week.
It all started with a car journey to San Jose. Due to the road conditions, driving a car in Costa Rica can be a real adventure. Furthermore it takes quite a long time to travel, although the distances are never really far. However, the good thing is, that it doesn’t play a big role to sit in a car for about 4 hours, as there will be a breathtaking nature all around you which makes it almost impossible to get bored.
I planned to reach the 10 a.m. bus.The journey to the Caribbean can take up to five hours and I wanted to arrive as early as possible there. I was told in advance to show up at the terminal about one hour before the bus departure in order to get a ticket. That’s why I really started to get nervous when we got lost in the morning rush- hour of San Jose. Finding the ¨Terminal del Caribe¨ was much more difiicult than I expected. However, everything went well and I started punctually at 10 a.m. on my window seat towards the Caribbean.
The trip was long but interesting. The route went through mountains and along the coast, past Limon, which is the largest city in the Caribbean, down south towards Panama. I also left the small city of Cahuita behind me and decided to get off in Puerto Viejo. Once there, I found myself standing in front of a large board on which there was a map of the small city with all its hotels, accommodations and beaches. I wasn’t the only person standing in front of that map, there were also some other guys, including my two future travel companions, Joe from USA and Roman from Switzerland. They also had no idea where to go so we decided to join up with each other and started to look for an accommodation.
Puerto Viejo is a small but diverse town and is located right beside the beach. Along the beach road you can find numerous stalls where you can buy all kinds of things and souvenirs like jewelry, clothes or hammocks. You can really do a lot of different things and meet all kinds of people in Puerto Viejo. Nevertheless, I have to say that I’ve been there during the rainy season, so there will be much more going on in the summer, I guess.
However, Puerto Viejo is not a big city. After a few minutes walk, you will have seen the most important things, mas o menos. There are lots of restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes. From traditional Costa Rican-Caribbean food, to Italian and Asian cuisine, you can find almost everything there, so you definitely won’t starve.
After we entered different hotels and cabinas and checked out the prices and conditions, we decided to stay at ¨La dolce vita¨. This kind of hostel is located not far from the beach and the town center and is run by a local and a Frenchman. The triple room had mosquito nets and was quite nice. We also had a kitchen access. We didn’t pay more than 5,000 colones per person, therefore I can really recommend this place.
There is one thing I learned during my stay in Central Amercica: making plans doesn’t work, as everything always develops in a different way. Originally, I wanted to spend two nights in Puerto Viejo, rent a bike there and explore the nearby beaches. I was told that between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo, there are supposed to be some beautiful beaches such as Playa Chiquita or Punta Uva. However, I am not able to tell you anyhing about those as my plans did change completely the following day. Instead of spending a week at the Caribbean of Costa Rica, I decided to travel to Panama, Bocas del Toro.