Becoming Location Independent: Costa Rica HighlightsCOSTA RICA, Critters & Wildlife, DINING, LOCATION INDEPENDENT, SERIES, STAFF — By Lisa Carter on October 12, 2011 at 01:12
By staff writer Lisa Carter. Photos Copyright © Jon Lee.
WHEN JON AND I told friends and family we were coming to Costa Rica for three months, it was incredible how many people had been here—or knew someone who had. Statistics show that approximately 2 million visitors come to this tiny country every year.
Without exception, every person we spoke to raved about their visit here. Having now experienced some of what this country has to offer, it’s clear why. Here’s a photo journal of what Jon and I consider to be the highlights thus far: wildlife, food, and scenery.
Costa Rica is known for its pristine nature and wildlife. A full one-quarter of the country’s territory has been set aside as national parks.
Blue Morpho butterflies have the perfect brown camouflage and scary eye when their wings are closed. The Morphos and the little guy are all feeding on fresh fruit. The sugars make them a bit drunk so they sit nice and still for a photo.
A family of Capuchin monkeys skittered through the trees, just off the trail, as we strolled through Manuel Antonio National Park. They are one of four species of monkeys found in Costa Rica.
Mama and baby were separated from the group and grew a bit anxious. Mama finally took a chance, scampering right past our feet to rejoin the others.
Sloths have got to be the most incredible creatures. Ever. That green tinge to his fur is actually moss growing on his coarse hair. We watched several make their way, ever so slowly, from branch to branch. Later in the day, however, it’s siesta time.
Around 38 out of 600 species of iguana inhabit Costa Rica. Big and small, colorful and drab, you see one kind or another everywhere you look.
This little bark scorpion fell out of a lawn chair Jon was unfolding. They're reputed to be one of the 30 to 50 types of scorpion with enough poison to kill a person. Yikes! Some of the creatures here in Costa Rica are not so cuddly.
There is no better introduction to a country and its people than its food. We’ve found new delights and come across a few old favorites.
Gallo pinto is the traditional Tico breakfast: leftover rice and black beans with cilantro, tomato and sweet pepper. Served always with fried plantains and tortillas, you can choose to have eggs, fried cheese or meat on the side. (Fresh, fried cheese = yum!) Served with black Costa Rican coffee, of course. Divine.
Casado is the national lunch dish based around rice and beans, fried plantain and salad. What varies is the accompanying meat. This day it was served with grilled chicken, a fried egg and the most delicious little dollop of stewed beef and squash.
Cas is a type of guava commonly referred to as the Costa Rica guava. In nearly every restaurant you will find it used to make a “refresco natural” or fresh fruit drink. Tart and tingly, it’s an incredibly refreshing beverage.
Cas can also be eaten as a fruit, when sprinkled with salt. Yes, salt. Weird, I know. It's an odd little fruit. And, as you can see, I found it just a wee bit sour.
This prolific little lime tree behind our house in Atenas was an unexpected bonus. It produced more than Hisano could use every day, so we were told to help ourselves. That we did.
Unlike the Mexican limes we usually see in North America, the flavor of these is brighter, cleaner. I believe it’s akin to a Key lime, but know them best as Peruvian limes. We made good use of them in lemonade, fresh fish ceviche and garlic chicken.
Land and Sea
The scenery in this country is nothing short of spectacular. The profusion of blues and greens at once awakens and soothes.
The countryside around Atenas is all rolling hills and valleys. Costa Rica is such a narrow isthmus that from some spots you can see the Pacific to the west and the Caribbean to the east.
Jon and I sped by this magnificent tree on our way down the coast to Quepos, lamenting the missed photo opportunity. It merited a screeching halt on the side of the road on our way back north to capture such simple beauty.
Miles and miles of palm plantations line both sides of the Panamerican Highway leading to Quepos on the southwest coast. Once harvested for cooking oil, these palms are now being used to create bio-fuels.
White sand. Clear blue water. The absolute perfect beach. This one falls within Manuel Antonio National Park. One of the most-visited parks in all of Costa Rica, its 683 hectares are mostly wild with only a few walking trails.
Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline consists of one horseshoe-shaped bay after another against a backdrop of green. Here, we’re looking down from on high toward Playa Hermosa, a beach worthy of it’s “beautiful” moniker.
Lava rock tide pools lay at the south end of the mile-long Playas del Coco beach. They’re perfect for exploring and at low tide you can slip around the end to a pristine, private cove.
See Lisa’s index of articles for more of her “Becoming Location Independent” series———
LISA CARTER is a literary translator and writer with a passion for travel. She and her partner, Jon, live in Ottawa, Canada – at least for now. They are currently experimenting with being digital nomads based out of Atenas, Costa Rica. You can find Lisa on her professional website intralingo.com, her personal food blog sweetsaltysour.com and on Twitter @intralingo.