Costa Rica is the one country in Central America that didn't clear cut the trees, and has dedicated most of its territory to National Parks. This was evident since the first moment we crossed the border from Nicaragua. It's also the most expensive country in Central America but that doesn't take away from its beauty. This specific fact affected us directly since we had to do the most repairs in the van in the last 2 years while in here but looking back, it seems like a distant memory that doesn't bug me as much any more.
We encounter the most obstacles while in Costa Rica, which turned into a love/hate relationship with this country. There were many things, the van broke down several times like I mentioned before, parts were hard to find and expensive; the rainy season was real and we weren't quite prepared for it; and we started to feel a little exhausted of the trip. Luckily we found very generous people, local and foreign, that were more than willing to help us. Through these episodes we were able to spend plenty of time with these new friends, talking and sharing our feelings about Costa Rica, and so we found out about the love/hate relationship between locals and foreigners, more specifically gringos.
I think it's because we are a mixed couple that folks are willing to share their true feelings about this specific subject with us, I guess we get both sides. There has been a big influx of US expats into Costa Rica for decades, and that is great for the economy, but it comes at a price. An example of that is all the houses built right on the beach in Osa Peninsula, leaving very little public access for your average person, when supposedly the beach is public and not for sale. On the other side expats that employ locals complain about an entitlement attitude that leads sometimes to poor work ethic or foreigners getting robbed by someone that thought they had too much.
These news were a big surprise to me since we have plenty of friends from NY that have been coming to CR for years, and have never mentioned anything about this 'relationship'. Which makes me wonder if they are even aware of it, but the truths is that it ain't hard to live in a bubble no matter where we go. So my guess is that we learn what we learn because of the way we travel, the slow pace, the overlanding, the problems we come across simply puts us in circumstances where we get to meet all sorts of people, and share way more than just a beer. I am not sure what's the solution but I think that we should visit new places with respect, and open minds, with no expectations.
The one other thing that amazes me, besides the very generous people we met in CR, is nature. We went to a few National Parks which were impressive, but the funny fact is that we would see more wild life at our campsites, at random times, and for free(national parks in CR are way more expensive that USA or any other country we visited before). The list is long and I am sure I took way too many photos at every encounter: here are some of my favorite ones...
THE LITTLE THINGS
THE BEACH gave us so much more than we expected. We camped at remote places for free, enjoyed the company of old and new friends, saw incredible sunsets and surfed epic waves all along the way. It's so clear now that my favorite country in Central America is Costa Rica.