Costa Rica mistakes

First trip to Costa Rica, first time for a lot of mistakes.  This was an ongoing list as the trip progressed and after I got home and thought about what I would do differently next time I went to Costa Rica...


How many times do I need to tell myself this?  I was doing so well and then I blew it for this trip.  I have been fighting getting a new pair of running shoes and then I was up early in a new place with nothing to run in.  Running in new places is one of my favorite things to do and I completely blew it.  Now I know I could go for a walk, and I might, and that kind of leads me to my second mistake……

Bring rain gear if you are going to a “RainForest”.

As I sat there looking at the rain I mean REAL rain gear.  Not the flimsy pocket jacket I brought that will probably be soaked once we start hiking or doing anything outdoors. We took the hotel shuttle from the airport for the THREE hour drive and that was not a mistake as the roads were muddy, had lots of potholes in places and it was POURING rain.  And there were not really street lights…… Our driver (Eduardo) said at one point, “Welcome to the rainforest” and I thought “I am going to get wet here”.  It was really raining and colder than I thought it would be.  I am not sure if I will also think I needed to bring warmer clothes.  That might be one of my mistakes too.

UPDATE:  The hotel had plastic rain ponchos and those saved many adventures in the rain forest.  We still got wet because a big storm came through when we were in the Arenal area as in trees blowing over and even the locals saying it was “mas agua” for that time of year.  I had my water resistant pants from Iceland and those were great for this trip. Eventually you get wet in a rainforest, but the plastic poncho was awesome!

Something that wasn’t a mistake, bringing a headlamp.  

I had joked with my sister that she had booked fancy hotels and we wouldn’t need headlamps.  Hmmmm.  Just kidding.  We arrived at our hotel and a tree had fallen on a power line during the rainstorm we were driving through.  They had a generator for the main lobby, but our rooms were dark.  Good thing we all had headlamps!  It really wasn’t that big of a deal but the hotel had free drinks for everyone and ended up buying our dinner.  It was unexpected and a nice gesture.  So headlamps, a good idea for Costa Rica.

Not bring (or having enough) Costa Rican currency or American dollars

This was another mistake I made. I exchanged some money before leaving and planned to use my ATM if I needed more cash but ended up not really finding an ATM or being near one when I needed.  A few times the ATMs looked questionable so I didn’t use them (as in wires coming out…).  Because of this I was low on cash during the trip and I don’t like having to budget for cash so carefully on trips.  Especially when some items are “cash only” and I am always counting how much money I have left in my head. Next time I will have more Costa Rican currency in hand early in the trip.

Staying at an “ALL Inclusive Resort” in Guanacaste after our zen / nature adventure in the Rainforest.

I wasn’t sure if I should include this as a mistake, but the All Inclusive Resort we stayed at in Guanacaste came as a bit of a culture shock to us after spending time in the Arenal Rainforest region.  The weather was AMAZING, but the drinking, gluttony, and loud party vibe was not our thing.  I feel a little “old” for saying this, but it was not my scene.  It also made me realize how great my first experience staying at an All Inclusive in Mexico was.  I was able to enjoy the “All Inclusive” stuff but also find some peace and quiet when needed.

Not a mistake, hiring a driver and not renting a car.

For our FIRST trip to Costa Rica I am glad we did not rent a car and instead hired drivers.  Especially in the Arenal - Rainforest region as I would not have wanted to drive there during the crazy storms we drove through.  I think we might rent a car the next time we go.  Maybe. Depends on where we are going.

Mistake, some clothing choices.

I mentioned the rain gear above and I don’t know if I should have brought warmer clothes or not as the temperature was right on the cusp.  I think maybe one long sleeved warmer thing would have been a good idea for the rainforest area.  For the Guanacaste beach area I should have packed cheap flip flops.  I had sandals with backs and they were not that great when it came to easy beach walking.  I also think I needed one more warm weather shirt.  I ended up buying one in Guanacaste to wear on the plane home.  Basically I needed to really “Lucky Dozen” my outfits for Costa Rica so I could have mixed and matched, but I didn’t.  Next time for sure.  And clothes I am comfortable in.  I brought some shorts that I just didn’t feel comfortable in and I am even remembering that months afterwards.

Not a mistake, bringing sunblock!

I read that sunblock was expensive in Costa Rica and it was.  About $30 for a bottle when I can get the same bottle for $10 in the US.  For this reason we brought sunblock to Costa Rica and USED the sunblock.  I mention the USED it section because there were A LOT of people in Guanacaste who did not use sunblock and were very sunburned.  Costa Rica is close to the equator and you could tell.  When we got to Guanacaste and saw all the lobster red sunburns we were glad we brought sunblock.

Some of these mistakes were really lesson for the next trip to Costa Rica.  Some of them were me being lazy and off my travel game.  I mean, I know better!  Hello running stuff and Lucky Dozen clothes that all mix and match.  The headlamp, I am happy to report that I always travel with one now because of this trip.  Just in case the power is out at a hotel again….

What is the saying?

If you are not learning you are not growing?

Well I learned some stuff on this trip!  I am ready for you next time Costa Rica!

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