I am now a legal (temporary) resident of Mexico, a result of a bureaucratic immigration process that took me all the way to Costa Rica about a week ago. As part of attaining a work visa, I needed to exit Mexico and do a part of the paperwork at a Mexican consulate in any other country. I also only had 30 business days from approval to exit and reenter the country or the whole process would expire. In my search for available appointments at neighboring consulates, Costa Rica ended up being the only option.
School and money meant Leo couldn’t join me, so I went sola. At some point just before touch down, I realized I hadn’t traveled alone since 2011 and was simultaneously exhilarated and nervous. Most of my travel in the past year has been in Guatemala and Mexico, with my native Spanish-speaking partner at my side handling most of the talking (because shy+lazy=I don’t speak to strangers unless necessary) and all of the paying attention to our whereabouts, so the prospect of being completely responsible for myself was refreshing, if not a bit stressful at first.
Luckily, Costa Rica is a country practically developed just for tourism, and any sola female traveler should rest assured she can do it on her own just fine. In my case, after a quick visit to the Mexican consulate, I hopped on the next bus out of San Jose heading west to the coast (they leave every 40 minutes) and an hour and a half later I woke up in the humid port-side city of Puntarenas where the ferry leaves for the Nicoya Peninsula.
With little time and little inspiration to wander too far off, I took the ferry across the bay to Costa Rica’s main stopover on the Central America hippy-backpacker trail: Montezuma. I found a small private room in a family-run hostel right on the sand and settled in for a three-day weekend (on the Mexican calendar).
Long, perfect beaches, fresh waterfalls, and wildlife aplenty made this an ideal place for some nature-y, free tourist activities. I hiked to a new waterfall each day, trailing monkeys on river runs into the jungle and swimming with pelicans in turquoise waters along a deserted wite-sand beach. Costa Rica is the most expensive Central American country to travel in, and I can’t imagine going back any time soon (or ever voluntarily), but it sure was beautiful and made me grateful for this random gift of travel.