I became fascinated by Costa Rica many years ago – I don’t know exactly when, but long before my first visit. There were essentially two things that made me want to see it for myself. The first is that Costa Rica has no army, and the second is that it has a lot of rainforests. I don’t know which I learned first, but the two together equalled a strong desire to see it for myself.
Then when I finally did go, for two weeks at the end of December 1998/beginning of January 1999, I fell in love. We visited both coasts, went white water rafting through the rainforest (one of most amazing things I’ve ever done), hiked in the cloud forest, took an aerial tram over the rainforest, and just generally had a blast. The people we met were nice and the beaches are gorgeous.
There were a few hiccups. The Spanish is different than anything I’d ever heard before – a lot of the vowels get swallowed, making it harder to understand (though I’m sure I’ll get used to it before long). The capital, San José, isn’t really anything to write home about. And we learned that the best way to travel in the country is with the domestic airlines, rather than the buses, at least in the western half of the country. We once got on a bus that for some reason we thought would take a couple of hours, but turned out to take nearly 12, due to horribly potholed roads and numerous stops.
When we went again in 2005, we concentrated on what we’d liked the most: rafting and the beach. It was, again, phenomenal.