It’s almost been a year since my first solo international trip, and I’m getting a bit nostalgic for my Costa Rica adventure last 4th of July. This blog wasn’t around then, but the memories, people (and humidity!) are still fresh in my head. Since this blog is clearly not the best at being chronological, I’ll just work backwards with the end of the trip.
I ended my 10 day Costa Rica solo trek last July with 4 relaxing days in Puerto Viejo, the laidback and fun-loving Caribbean town on the southeast coast of the country. Puerto Viejo is a rasta-spirited, hippie-loving, lazy surfer town more Caribbean than Central American. It’s known for having quite a rowdy & young party scene (I’m looking at you Lazy Mon) but that wasn’t why I trekked a full 15 hours there.
I actually didn’t even realize how much of a party vibe the town exudes until I jumped down from a sweaty 6 hour bus ride. Puerto Viejo was actually the entire reason I had even decided to go to Costa Rica. Through the great world wide web I had found out about a little Yoga Studio/Hostel/Chocolate Shop right on the beach. I know right?? Sounds like heaven on a beach! (which is repetitive because heaven should be on a beach).
OM is a little slice of peace and simplicity, not actually in the heart of PV, but right off of Playa Cocles, about a 20 min walk or 8 min bike ride into “el centro”. Kristen owns the establishment with her Nicaraguan husband, Alex. She came down from the states and (in no particular order) fell in love with Costa Rica, with yoga, with Alex and never left. They opened up this joint yoga studio/Reiki center/hostel/local surf camp for wandering travellers in addition to the local community.
The local chocolate shop, Caribeans, is tied to the backyard cacao fields and moved downstairs a couple years later. Caribeans has the most fragrant, fresh chocolate in varieties of mint, orange, chili, and so many countless local beans. Add on unlimited free samples and the only sliver of air conditioning (in their sample room nonetheless!) made them a godsend in PV.
After a week of settling my initial solo travel nerves and jetting around San Jose, Monteverde and La Fortuna I was ready for a mental R&R and my body was craving some downward dog and ouijaye breath. I woke up early every morning to the howler monkeys, had strong coffee and did the most intensive vinyasa & tried yin yoga for the first time. I spent hours idling on the beach, watching surfers, and escaping the humidity and catching the transient breezes. I biked up & down the beaches, petted sloths at the Jaguar Rescue Center, and hung out all afternoon with a Jamaican street vendor.
I even survived a 24 hour town-wide blackout when the winds knocked down the only string of electricity poles overnight. We showered in the ocean (saltwater smells better than sweat!) and did yoga by candlelight while the electricians roared & ripped away right in front of the open-air studio (talk about feeling centered and finding peace).
My favorite part of Puerto Viejo was the easy friendliness & sense of camaraderie. It was truly the only part of Costa Rica where I actually got to know the locals –and they made space for me in their little community, if only for 4 days! It is an idyllic paradise – but an attainable life, not the type of paradise you’d find in Bermuda or St. Tropez. You can build a life –a sustainable life –to whatever scale you want. It definitely won’t be my last trip there.