TAKE IT ALL IN, DON’T MISS A THING

Howler Magazine - - Contents -

Costa Rica is a place of ad­ven­ture and also tran­quil­ity. We can all ex­pe­ri­ence what­ever we want as we travel the coun­try­side, from beaches to moun­tains. Within an hour's drive, you can en­counter sev­eral dif­fer­ent cli­mates and dras­tic changes in land­scape. This is Costa Rica: lush rain forests and pris­tine beaches with pow­der white sand to black vol­canic sand.

The wilder land­scapes are largely un­trav­e­lable due to vege­ta­tion den­sity and also steep to­pog­ra­phy. Rus­tic roads and leisure driv­ers can make it dif­fi­cult to bounce around from place to place very quickly. I think the av­er­age driv­ing speed in Costa Rica tops out about 35 miles per hour.

There is some­thing here for ev­ery­one, from high-thresh­old thrill seek­ers to laid-back na­ture lovers. All kinds of ex­treme ad­ven­tures can be en­joyed, in­clud­ing spelunk­ing, canyon­ing, white­wa­ter raft­ing, zi­plin­ing, scuba div­ing, surf­ing and for­est trekking.

The abun­dance and ac­ces­si­bil­ity of wildlife through­out the coun­try is ex­tra­or­di­nary. So many times, I see groups of peo­ple pulled over on the road­side ob­serv­ing howler mon­keys in the canopy above. Oc­ca­sion­ally, a gray fox or coati is spot­ted scur­ry­ing across the road. Costa Rica has strict no-hunt­ing laws that per­pet­u­ate the safe and peace­ful ex­is­tence of its an­i­mals. This is one of the last places on earth where their fu­ture sur­vival is pro­tected to such an ex­tent. It also seems like not a year goes by with­out a re­search bi­ol­o­gist iden­ti­fy­ing a new na­tive species of mam­mal, in­sect or bird in Costa Rica's forests. When­ever driv­ing along any road — at the slow pace de­scribed above — please keep an eye out for these amaz­ing crea­tures; be care­ful and able to re­act quickly enough to do your part in pro­tect­ing their safety.

Dur­ing sev­eral re­cent trips to La For­tuna, at the base of

Are­nal, I've been for­tu­nate every time to have the clouds part and ex­pose the ma­jes­tic vol­cano. I pull over and just take it in … try­ing to imag­ine the scare caused by its last erup­tion and lava flow.

Take time on your trav­els to meet the friendly peo­ple of Costa Rica, who are so ready to help when most needed or least ex­pected. It seems they are al­ways at the ready to give direc­tions or help change those flat tires that inevitably oc­cur as we tra­verse the rough roads. I al­ways get a laugh or a smile with my loco gringo re­sponse. I have met so many won­der­ful peo­ple here and thor­oughly en­joy the re­sult of my bun­gled-or-not ef­forts to com­mu­ni­cate out of re­spect. Butchering the lan­guage is only nat­u­ral, and can some­how do more good than harm. Part of the fun and hu­man con­nec­tion comes from try­ing to ex­plain what is meant. I have been work­ing on my Span­ish a lit­tle at a time, and re­cently reached the point of be­ing able to carry on a bit of a con­ver­sa­tion. Get­ting older and work­ing with an English-lan­guage mag­a­zine cer­tainly doesn't aid in my lan­guage growth, but I'm try­ing.

Costa Rica's nat­u­ral at­trac­tions and hos­pi­tal­ity ex­tend to ev­ery­one. There's no end to the amaz­ing things that the lo­cals al­low us to par­take in. Whether we are guests or ex­pats, it's our priv­i­lege and duty to em­brace their cul­ture and en­joy their way of life. Mak­ing a sin­cere at­tempt to as­sim­i­late is what gives us the real ex­pe­ri­ence. Re­spect the peo­ple, the en­vi­ron­ment and the coun­try.

Pura vida, Costa Rica is wait­ing for you!

Take time on your trav­els to meet the friendly peo­ple.

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