Costa Rica

Surrounded with mountain landscapes at every corner like that of a surreal painting and oceans as clear as the blue sky, you will indeed enjoy a breathtaking trip. I mostly stayed in the jungle and saw animals I had never seen before, including a white nosed coati and a toucan! Everywhere was scenic like a dream and the locals were extremely friendly! There were a very few times when I got stared at in the countryside because of my black skin + hair but it was more of a curious/intrigued stare rather than a rude/racial one. A child walked up to me at a restaurant to say hi and looked more closely because she'd been staring from a distance haha, it was the cutest thing! This is by far my best vacation even though we're only at vacation numero dos.

 

Travel Requirements as of April 25th, 2020:

Travel insurance: is mandatory for entry and must cover at least $50,000 for medical expenses including COVID-19 and at least $2,000 for lodging expenses in the event of COVID-19 quarantine. Trawick (international insurance) and INS (Costa Rican insurance) are common travel insurances that have been approved by the Costa Rican government.

 Health Pass: must be filled out (salud.go.cr) 48 hours prior to your departure time.

Helpful Tips:

Use off-spray every day, the bugs out here don't play and house geckos are very common, we spotted one in every place we stayed. They feed on insects and are harmless so we were chilling. The sewage system in CR is different and water pressure can be low, in some cases, throwing tissue into the toilet is not allowed. Be mindful of that and be on the look out for instructions whenever you walk into a bathroom. If you don't want a few friends coming back home with you on your return flight, keep your suitcases closed at all times because we're not the only ones feening for a lil' getaway, insects will find a comfortable spot in your clothes if you let them. Always leave your important belongings in a safe at your place and never carry all your cash at once. It's a good idea to carry both USD and Colón currencies as most businesses take both. Just a heads up that USD may be requested by some businesses intentionally because they'll profit from a higher exchange rate. Whereas, if you pay in Colón, you pay exactly what you're charged. This is not a big deal though, since the profit is never outrageous but fyi. Also, the tips are usually already included in the bill whenever you eat out or order in. Double check this so you don't tip twice, unless you want to. If you're ever at the crocodile tourist attractions, be aware of locals trying to sell you plastic necklaces while claiming it to be crocodile teeth. They would try to sell them for about $10-$20 depending on size. You have to visit the waterfalls! That was the one thing we planned to do but didn't :( They're incredibly beautiful and one of the things Costa Rica is known for. Make sure you download WhatsApp, it'll make your life easier! That's the major platform for communication (calls, texts, video calls), plus you can easily translate to English in Google Translate app which helps with the language barrier a tad bit. The voice translator app was also helpful to keep handy. Car rentals here will require a hold of about $700 if you're paying with a credit card and a hold of about $1,000 if you're paying with a debit card (to avoid the event of insufficient funds). The hold usually lasts about 3 weeks in case the company is charged for any traffic violations in your account. Otherwise, you'll be fully refunded after the time-frame. The roads in the country side are often wiggly, steep and narrow. You'll need a 4x4 truck to get by easily and I suggest avoiding to drive if you're either inexperienced or uncomfortable driving in another country because the local truck drivers be on some Fast and Furious sh*t, no kidding. Taxis are harder to find outside of the tourist zones so I'd recommend planning ahead if you don't want to rent a car. We didn't rent a car on our trip due to unforeseen circumstances so we used a private shuttle to get between towns and asked our hosts + workers at supermarkets/restaurants for taxi recommendations. Always confirm that it is in fact, a real taxi before getting in; official taxis in the country side are usually red SUVs with a  roof bar that says "Taxi" but sometimes, they look like regular SUVs. However, in both cases, there would either be a sticker, roof bar or some sort of identification that shows that it is public transportation or a business card at least. Do not get into any car that does not appear to be a taxi or with the driver pretending to be a taxi driver but doesn't have proof or feels sus. Always follow your intuition.

Helpful Information (I personally used these):

Travel Insurance: Trawick International 

Private Shuttle: www.transportationincostarica.com (request Edgar, he's very patient and amazing!).

Taxi in Uvita: +506 5711-6868

Currency Exchange in NYC: 357 7th Ave, New York NY 10001 / (646) 473-1222 / asforeignexchange.com 

Fun Fact: Whenever I travel, I bnb' hop; meaning that I stay at different locations for the span of my trip (mostly airbnbs). I do this in order to get the most out of my vacation by experiencing authentic cultures, finding hidden gems, meeting different types of people and supporting locals. My ideal vacation is mostly spent away from tourist zones and into local communities. But of course, this comes with a more extensive planning strategy.

*please note that the information provided in these blogs are simply shared experiences and are not necessarily proven facts. Please ensure that you do your research for updates as change is constant and experiences are often unique to each individual. Chioma Obiegbu will not be held liable by any individual, business and/or entity for the information contained herein.