First Impression of Cahuita, Costa Rica and it’s a Little Twisted

From the moment we stepped off the bus, I felt like this place was different. The energy, the vibe, this place has something that the others didn’t.

And, after being here for 3 hours, I think that something is an alcohol problem and a love for music. I’m not sure which is stronger. 

Walking down the street, you can hear music blasting — reggeaton, mostly — from homes and restaurants. It fits perfectly with the Caribbean vibe and the dreadlocked men and quaint pastel coloured houses on stilts.

For dinner, we followed our ears. We went to one of only 2 bars in town. There was a man singing with a guitar and he was encouraging everyone to join him by playing their maracas (grains of rice in plastic bottles). After my first Rock Limon, I joined in a little. 

 
The vibe was fun. 

 
What we saw, was not. Before the sunset, we saw multiple town drunks. There was…

  • A very muscular 30ish year old shirtless man stumbling around the middle of the road with a beer in his pocket and a bottle of vodka (probably actually moonshine) to his lips. By the time we finished our dinner, he gave up trying to wear his crocs. 
  • An extremely skinny man of probably 50 or 60 but it was impossible to tell, staggering around, sharing the moonshine/vodka/beer with the muscular man, and then passing out on a concrete bench. 
  • A woman of childbearing age, most likely a mother as her stomach looked like it has housed a child or 2 or 12, sort of strut-staggering around like she was a drunken (high as a kite maybe) Costa Rica’s Next Top Model.  

Cahuita is population 600 (ish). Maybe those 3 people aren’t representative of the whole, and I’m sure they aren’t. It’s just…hard to not notice such severely messed up folks in a teeny tiny town and not get the impression that maybe drinking your face off is kind of all there is to do.

  — Cynthia

The Night Walk From Hell

Do a “Night Walk” to see if you can find frogs, snakes and tarantulas. It will be fun they said. 

So we did. 

And it WASN’T fun! Because we trekked through the frigging jungle and nobody told me* so I wore flip flops and a tshirt!! And ants crawled all over me and Matt had spiders all around him. 

And everyone was talking French and walking SO SLOW. 

We didn’t even finish the trek. At the first sign that it was possible, we bailed and walked as fast as humanly possible home. 

I couldn’t bare the thought of walking through anymore ant hills in the black of night whilst dodging big ass spiders and worrying that a snake was going to jump out from the bushes and bite my barefoot and probably kill me. 

At least we saw a cute frog. 

green frog on a leaf in the the jungle
jungle frog

*When the tour was explained to us, it was described as “a night walk along a path”, and not in the national (jungley) park. There’s a concrete path that goes through Tortuguero town and that’s what I thought we’d be walking on. Boy was I wrong. 

  — Cynthia

Monteverde and Santa Elena, Costa Rica – We Loved You [Video]

Cast away your expectations. Open your mind. Free yourself of preconceived notations. That’s the best way to travel. Because everything will be a suprise.

When it came to Monteverde and Santa Elena, Matt and I had no expectations really. We had booked a place to stay, and knew we’d have the opportunity to hike in the cloud forest. And that was it. We didn’t even know what  “hike in the cloud forest” really meant. But it sounded great!! And we were going to do it!

Sure, you could say we hadn’t done our research on the place. And you’d be right. 

But being unprepared can be a wonderful thing (I know I’ll 100% disagree with that at some point in our travels), and Monteverde and Santa Elena showed us that. 

It was much cooler than we expected/were used to. I’m talking 25 degrees mid-day compared to 36 degrees. And what a welcome respite that was from the oppressive heat of places like Granada, Nicaragua. 

Finally, Matt walked with a skip in his step — and without sweating through his clothes!

Our first full day, we walked from Santa Elena to the Monteverde Cheese Factory. We got outselves a little ice cream and sat in the sun.

   
 

With the cooler temperatures, at times, I couldn’t help but wish that I didn’t leave my sweatshirt in Flordia with Matt’s Mom. But the good side was that I got to wear Matt’s and for some reason, his sweater is much cosier than my own! 

Another thing we couldn’t believe was how freaking green everything was! We’d just come from the scorched side of Nicaragua (maybe the whole country is scorched?) where everything was brown and looked dead and the animals looked severly dehydrated. It’s like there hadn’t been rain in months there, and you know what? There probably hadn’t.

Well, the lack of rain was over for now, for us. It rained A LOT in Monteverde/Santa Elena. A fact that should have probably been glaringly obvious to us, considering we were staying a 20 minute drive way from a two cloud forest reserves. We more or less lived in the clouds for 5 nights, which is pretty romantic when you think about it.

  
Who knew I could appreciate the rain? But I did! For 10 minutes.

But what suprised us the most? All of those things put together.

It was just so beautiful and intoxicating.
Take a look for yourself.

Here’s some more pictures.

Great little hostel as our base in Santa Elena: Cabinas el Pueblo – helpful staff, clean, great breakfast and comfortable bed.

  — Cynthia and Matt

How to Score Free Bread in Santa Elena, Costa Rica

the free bread
The FREE bread

We got FREE bread today! Free stuff is always great, but this was made all the better because:

  • We have no jobs and thus no income
  • We’re travelling on a pretty tight budget
  • After our Sky Walk, we were living dangerously close to maxing out our daily budget — and we finished the Sky Walk at 1:00pm so had the whole day ahead of us

To help with our budget situation, we thought we’d make our own dinner tonight. Our awesome hostel — Hostel Cabinas El Pueblo (bed and breakfast) — has a fully stocked kitchen for guests. 

Here’s how we got our free bread:

  1. Find a bakery
  2. Go to said bakery just before (or after if you want to live on the edge) it closes
  3. Pick our your bread 
  4. Go to pay for your bread
  5. Hope the baker squeezes your bread and tells you it’s not fresh and that you just have it
  6. Walk out of bakery with bread
  7. Check for mould before eating it just to give yourself peace of mind (there will be no mould)
The final product from chef Matt

Good luck! And let us know your tips for getting free food — we’d love to know!

–Cyn

It was Rickety-as-Shit

I knew it was going to be an early morning. And it was. But I didn’t know just how much I was going to wish that my feet were on solid land before it was 7:30am.

We rolled up to the port on Ometepe Island’s bustling “city” Moyogalpa at the ripe old hour of 6:15am. We wanted to catch the 6:45am ferry to the mainland (San Jorge) before hightailing it to Costa Rica before our Nicaraguan Visa’s expired. There was a pretty good chance we wouldn’t be let into Costa Rica so we needed to allow time for that. We had 24 hours to figure this out.

So what?, you’re probably thinking. I don’t blame you. I’d be thinking that too.

So we rolled up to the port. By rolled I mean walked. By port I mean…I don’t know, it was a big dock-like thing.

There were two boats. 

One was the same one that we took to Ometepe Island. Fairly big, but small according to Lonley Planet (we think, and are still not sure what constitutes big or small). Room enough for maybe 120 or 150 people.

  

This thing wasn’t glamourous but it was sturdy. That’s all — and exactly what — you need when you’re going across a super choppy lake. By the way, we saw a boat LITERALLY SINKING on our way there.

The other boat was about the same size and rickety as shit.

This other boat was definitely the kind of boat that you hear horror stories about. 

There was no way in hell we were taking that ferry.

  

Except WE DID. 

Because it left at 6:30am and the other one left at 7:00am. 

Despite the fact that the ferry we wanted left at 6:45am and the “schedule never changed not even on holidays” there was in fact NO 6:45am ferry.

So we got on the rickety as shit ferry.

We dropped our bags off basically at the feet of some random men. I figured that they’d rummage through our stuff and make a mess of it. But I couldn’t seem them stealing anything. 

Like, would they REALLY want Part 2 of Stephen King’s The Dome…in English no less? Ya I doubt that. After lugging the honking book around for a month, I don’t want the damn thing either. It’s massive. (Except I know that once I get through Part 1 I’ll be glad I have Part 2).

Our stuff wasn’t rummaged through or stolen at any rate.

But I think we came close to capsizing a few times. But I wouldn’t really know because we were below deck. NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN. It was the worst!!!!!

Once we dropped our bags off, we began our reluctant descent down some scary dooms-day stairs. It felt like we were securing our fate at the bottom of the lake.

I tried not to think about that. It was obvious this boat had made and survived the journey before (it was not a brand new vessel).

It was in fact leaking water. A fact that I observed as I leaned my head down and looked between my feet. Water was gushing from the raised floor behind me. I don’t know if this was normal or if it was safe. I barely even thought about that. 

I was too busy trying to figure out how to say “your boat is leaking” in Spanish. We didn’t get that far in our studies.

I was also too busy noticing that we were basically sideways.

I was even busier worrying about Matt because he doesn’t like boats and gets sea sick. 

And.

With every creak and croack of the rickety as shit wooden boat, I feared a little for our marriage’s survival and a fair amount for our lives.

–Cyn