Recently, I’ve seen a lot of blog posts about Costa Rica from fellow travel blogging colleagues. This is due in part, to the Tourism Board of Costa Rica campaigning to entice travel bloggers en masse with sponsored travel experiences. (See also: Financial Travel Tip #52: Getting Sponsorships)
That’s not why I went to Costa Rica.
I have no problem with press trips and sponsored experiences; in fact I’m pleased that the travel blog industry has evolved to being a recognized and legitimate form of media, and most travel bloggers are rising to the call ethically (which also makes me happy).
But this post isn’t about press trips, and (as per the title) it has very little to do with Costa Rica, despite my just having spent three weeks there.
Why do I Have Nothing to Write about Costa Rica?
It’s not because I didn’t like the place; I loved it. After the hectic pace of Bogota Colombia and the active chill of Boulder Colorado, it was a perfect place to both defrost and decompress. During said defrosting and decompression, I also took a bit of a holiday from my regular routine of cracking the cultural code of my chosen destination.
I write about local experiences
One of my favourite things to do is to stay with locals or tap into a local community and engage in local cultural activities. In Costa Rica, however, I was staying with a different brand of local: the expat brand. Although these friends have lived in Costa Rica for over 20 years, it’s wasn’t the culturally insightful experience one might expect. Then again, Costa Rica is a haven for expats, so to an extent that is the culture of Costa Rica.
I wasn’t in a touristy area
I stayed at the very tip of the sparsely populated Osa Peninsula; a rustic and quiet place, nestled in the jungle. There were no stores, no markets, and the closest town was 20kms away. There was one restaurant within walking distance. The most touristy thing I did was a nature walk and tree climb with Everyday Adventures (which was pretty awesome).
The rest of the time, I was relaxing, walking along the beach or through the jungles, discovering waterfalls, reading books, spotting the rampant wildlife, and sleeping.
I surfed the waves, not the net
I tried a new form of surfing whilst in Costa Rica; surfing the waves. I still surf the net much more gracefully than the waves, but it was fun playing in the ocean and learning a new skill.
I didn’t take my camera
When I left the house for my walks and surfing adventures, I left the camera behind. Instead, I chose to see my new world through my eyes, instead of the lens of my camera. In so doing, it relieved me of a perceived obligation to “discover” something worth taking a photo of. The few times I did have my camera, my inner National Geographic photographer was disappointed at my inability to capture the wildlife as I would have liked. (Note to self: telescopic lens required).
All in all, I was on vacation
A couple of years ago I reflected on what a holiday looks like for digital nomads and full-time travelers (whose lifestyles smack of a holiday to begin with), musing on aspects like traveling without recording everything about it, and not feeling compelled to see and do everything possible.
That was my experience in Costa Rica. I was on my computer very little, I celebrated the relatively atrocious speed of the internet as an excuse to remain offline, and I relieved myself of the obligation to “conquer” Costa Rica for my readers.
Sorry, dear reader, if you were hoping I’d give you the inside scoop of Costa Rica. I’m sure you understand that sometimes, we all need a vacation of sorts. Costa Rica is a vacation destination for many intrepid travelers, and it was for me too.