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Adventures for All

Category Archives: Adventures

Getting off the beaten path – do-it-yourself and organized adventures welcome!

What’s Costa Rica Like?

What's Costa Rica like?

Sure, lots of travelers have been to Costa Rica. But that doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy the Original Canopy Tour any less.

You can tell someone is an obnoxiously world-weary hipster traveler if you ask “What’s Costa Rica like?” and the answer starts with a sigh. And then a sneer, and then the words “Costa Rica is so … Americanized.

I’ve heard this answer countless times, and I find it just as myopic now as I did the first time.

Yes, Costa Rica has McDonald’s and common fast-food chains. But show me just one place in the United States where a jackhammer of a road like the one from Lake Arenal to Monteverde serves a major destination for travelers. Show me a major metro-area mall where guards tote shotguns. Show me a hotel in a capital city that’s surrounded by razor wire.

OK, then.

What's Costa Rica like?

Meet a coati in Costa Rica.

What’s Costa Rica Like?

I might not have made Costa Rica sound very nice right then. It definitely doesn’t sound like the United States. And it’s not.

It’s more laid back, more laissez faire. During my trip, the chaotic traffic through me off. Now that I’ve been to Vietnam, I might be a bit more comfortable with it.

Here’s what you can expect: tasty food, beautiful scenery and people who are genuinely friendly, even those not affiliated with the tourism industry. People there really do say “pura vida” to greet each other. It’s not some travel magazine exaggeration. One traveler friend described Costa Ricans, aka Ticos, as the Canadians of Latin America.

What's Costa Rica Like?

Looks at these little scamps hanging out in Manuel Antonia, Costa Rica!

Living Pura Vida

Here’s a great example of what Costa Rica is like: I was a few hours outside San Jose visiting La Paz Waterfall Gardens. And shit … I missed the last bus back. Well, an employee from the gardens noticed, and offered me a ride back toward San Jose, where he lives in a different neighborhood. We had a pleasant ride back, chatting the whole way about all that’s good and bad about life in Costa Rica. When he dropped me off at a convenient spot, I offered him some gas money. He wouldn’t take a dime from me. He’s still one of the all-time nice guys I’ve met in my travels. (If you go to La Paz Waterfall Gardens and see someone named Roy, that’s him. And if Cassador the cat is still around, give him a scratch between the ears. Cassador, that is. Not Roy.)

What's Costa Rica Like?

Check out the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Advice for Your Costa Rica Adventure

Fly anywhere you can with one of the local airlines. Four hours in a bus on bumpy roads equals 15 minutes aloft in a Nature Air Twin Otter. The views are spectacular, and that’s time you add to your valuable-beyond-money vacation. It is worth every penny you spend (especially since you won’t be holding in a giant pee after a few hours).

And look, there are tons of blogs out there that will give you Top 10 Most Awesome lists about everything in Costa Rica. They’ll tell you what to add to your – excuse me while a barf just a little from cliche-induced nausea – “bucket list.” So I won’t dive too far into that.

What's Costa Rica like?

Go to Monteverde if you like coffee, yoga and easy access to solitude. Just prepare for a rough road.

I’ll just say the volcano-philes like me will love Costa Rica. So will people who love zip lines, coffee, simple-but-hearty food and soccer rivalries; if you can schedule your trip around Saprissa versus Alajuela, you will have a ton of fun basking in soccer madness. The country is also brilliant-green enough to blind someone from a desert environment.

What's Costa Rica like?

One of the residents of the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Costa Rica in a Word: Aware

The powers that be in Costa Rica know what they have on their hands: scenery, scenery, scenery. The country has protected 25 percent of its land area, and is still working to improve.

Just ignore the hipster travelers and their scorn. Go to Costa Rica and have fun, even if you aren’t going before it was cool. Because it still is. Honestly.

What’s Australia Like?

I mark 2005 as the true beginning of my international travel experience. Since then, the way I view travel has changed as I’ve seen and done more. This post marks the first in a series that collects and compares what I’ve learned. Let’s get it started with “What’s Australia Like?”, a look at what youContinue Reading

The Internet Isn’t the Problem

Some article with the clickbait headline of Why Steve Jobs Didn’t Let His Kids Use iPads (And Why You Shouldn’t Either) is making the rounds on Facebook. As you can guess, people are sharing it and crowing about their Internet-free childhood and all the fun they used to have sans computer. Or with slow Internet.Continue Reading

Great Backpacking Destination: Iceland

Iceland is made for backpacking. It has a wealth of trails that are supported by smart amenities and relatively easy to access. The country has embraced the backpacker, with plenty of touring groups, sports shops and hostels. Here are some other reasons why it’s a great backpacking destination. Incredible Scenery Icelanders realize what makes the countryContinue Reading

Visiting Filming Locations Around the World

Years ago, I got hooked on A Game of Thrones. I was surprised to see HBO take the ambitious step of turning A Game of Thrones into a series – and doing a pretty good job of it too. Sure, some of my favorite background characters didn’t make the cut; a few situations changed too.Continue Reading

Things I Learned at Primitive Living Skills Class

This weekend, I took a primitive living skills course at the Aboriginal Living Skills School. The class, called “The Provident Primitive,” started at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. We returned to the school in Prescott at about 6 p.m. the next day. Cody Lundin, who you may have heard of from the television show “Dual Survival,”Continue Reading

My Experience at the 2014 World Cup

This afternoon, Germany just gave Brazil a 7-1 hiding in the 2014 World Cup semifinal. I can only imagine the anguish in Brazil right now – especially since I just had the chance to visit Brazil during the Group Stages. So it’s a great moment to share a few of the great things I sawContinue Reading

New Estrella Trails a Bit of a Mystery

The people who built the FINS trails in the Estrella community of Southwest Phoenix are up to their old tricks again – but this time, they seem to be building new Estrella trails with the blessing of landowners. I went out to FINS in late April for one of my rare West Valley forays; it’s aContinue Reading

Titan Missile Museum Tour Taps Cold War Memories

The Titan Missile Museum tour is perfect those of us who have forgotten – and for those of us who never knew – the Cold War. Some of us (not me!) will recall the “is this the end?” tension of the Cuban Missile Crisis. People my age will think back to Regan-era rhetoric, the StarContinue Reading

McDowell Sonoran Preserve Mountain Biking

A year has made a big difference for Scottsdale, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and its mountain bike trails. Back then, I took my first ride on its new trails near Brown’s Ranch Trailhead. And I had some harsh words. Since then, the trailhead has opened. Most of the trails have some sort of signage. MoreContinue Reading