Costa Rica is by far the most developed and Westernized Central American country we have come across. Unfortunately for Steve, the prospect of returning to work was looming early in the New Year and he decided to leave a few days early to spend Christmas with his folks. Before he left we spent a little while doing the highlights of Costa Rica, covering both coasts and getting a good overview of the country. We saw the Pacific Coast and many islands on a wonderfully luxurious day cruise. We were also able to fit in a visit to one of Costa Rica’s many volcanoes, did a jungle and river boating trip, a zip line tour and wildlife park. He handed me off to my family and was off to surprise his parents for Christmas.
The following two weeks in Costa Rica with the family were during the busy local and international tourist season. We saw much of the country, spending Christmas in the northern highlands where we viewed active volcano lava by night and learned about self sufficient organic farming during the day. Then it was down onto the ranching lowlands where we visited national parks and saw a lot of wildlife and forests in the sticky heat. We joined the locals in the national obsession of watching bull fighting which was more about the members of the crowd (adolescent males) taunting the bulls and getting as close as possible. The top bull of the night injured his rider, smashed one guy into the fence and then gored another. Insane!
We spent New Years on the beach in the small hippy town of Montezuma and enjoyed the fireworks and dancing in the street. From there we headed out east towards Panama and toured some free trade/family run coffee plantations, gardens and did zip lining. Here we were pretty much the only gringos around and got plenty of stares. We crossed the border to Panama at a small obscure crossing that would have been very easy to sneak through had we not been so obviously out of place. Costa Rica was a beautiful and easy to navigate country that we definitely enjoyed, and as they say in Costa Rica- pura vida!