Living in Costa Rica
It always feels better to be prepared! Especially in the jungle. Here’s a small list of things you’ll want to keep in mind when visiting beautiful Costa Rica.
1. Always check your shoes and linens.
You never know what could be hiding in your stuff. I’ve found lizards and bugs in my bags. There’s lots of insects here, frogs, crabs, and worse- scorpions and snakes. Always do a thorough check of the inside of your shoes, your laundry when you take it off the line, and your sheets before you climb into bed. Always better safe than sorry!
2. Wear sunscreen.
This is something I shrugged off a lot at home (which I shouldn’t have done there either), but Costa Rica is closer to the equator. It’s hot here. We’ve been so busy, but the other day we finally had time for a proper, all day beach day. Instinctively we stuck to the shade as much as we could. We hiked through the jungle with lots of tree coverage to explore the different beaches of Montezuma. When we found one we wanted to stay at we picked shady spots, every once in a while cooling off in the ocean. My sunscreen stayed tucked away in my bag. In my mind, we were in the shade most of the time! This was a silly assumption though. Of course we were in the sun, and it takes a lot less time for it to burn you here. My skin is still pealing. Make sure the sunscreen you get has ingredients that are coral reef safe and good for you too, like the one I talk about in this post!
3. Conserve water.
When we worked the festival in Uvita they provided drinking water and showers for us, which we were really grateful for. We were camping in the jungle though- where did the water come from? They had water tanks on site, but water runs out. We stayed in a tent in someone’s backyard who also only had water from tanks, and we experienced a day and a half with no water. We stocked up on drinking water, but when a place is so humid with lots of dirt (this is during the dry season) you really appreciate getting to take a shower! The place we’re staying at now draws from a well, and this is our most luxurious experience so far, but it’s still really important to only use water that you need. Turn off the water in the shower until you need it to rinse, and make it a fast one! All that being said, make sure you still drink a lot of water. It’s too hot not to stay hydrated. A lot of the tap water in Costa Rica is drinkable. Just make sure to ask first if it’s safe to drink. We fill up our reusable water bottles every chance we get!
4. Be smart with your belongings.
As with anywhere you travel to, be conscious of your surroundings and your things. Don’t leave your bag on your chair at the restaurant when you go to the restroom. Don’t leave your things on the beach when you go in the water for a swim. While there isn’t much violent crime in Costa RIca, theft can be a problem (probably because the minimum wage is so low). Always keep your items close by. I brought my nice camera with me, but I keep it in my backpack instead of a camera bag so that it doesn’t scream, “NICE CAMERA IN HERE!” I always put it away when I’m not using it. Some would find it a burden to carry their things around with them everywhere, but I’ve enjoyed always having my camera handy. I’ve gotten some shots I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise! You never know when monkeys will appear, and all the landscapes are so beautiful. If you don’t want to bring your valuables with you all the time, look into getting a safe. Some hotels have them for you to use as well.
5. Be mindful of wildlife.
This has already been touched on in this list, but it’s a broad topic. You will interact with wildlife here, and you need to make sure to go about it the right way. Wild animals were here first. It’s their home. In the month during my travels in Costa Rica I have seen multiple types of monkeys, crocodiles, snakes, frogs, crabs, all sorts of bugs, birds, reptiles, escaped bulls, and I’m sure I’ll see a lot more in the months I’ll be here.
A few general rules are to not feed animals human food. You don’t know what’s good for them to eat, and this messes up the natural order of things. I know you want to befriend a monkey, but they’ve got their monkey life to live! In extreme cases and depending on the animal, you may not want to look them in the eye or bare your teeth; this may be taken as a challenge. Obviously don’t touch them. This can be dangerous whether they’re poisonous or not. Unless it’s a stray dog or cat- I say hello to most of them! They walk around independently, even the dogs with owners. They’re basically like people just walking down the street and going about their days. I want to take all of them home with me.
Don’t litter. Ever, no matter where you are. It’s your job to preserve the plants and animals in an area by always taking your trash with you when you leave.
6. Be Prepared.
This one’s obvious, but do you research. Learn about where you’re going and bring what you need. Throughout travel the most important thing you need changes depending on your situation. When I was in the airport preparing to travel alone and to a foreign country for the first time I had a fear of losing my passport. It was the most important thing I had and I kept making sure I knew exactly where it was. While camping in the jungle my flashflight was one of my most valuable items. You don’t want to walk through the night or get into bed without a light to make sure there’s no critters occupying the space you’re about to be in. There’s no need to over worry to the point of not having a good time. Having the things you need and your wits about you can relieve a lot of stress. One of the most important rules of the jungle is to have a fulfilling and enjoyable experience!
When you venture out into the towns of Costa Rica, keep in mind that the pipes are old. It’s common knowledge here not to flush toilet paper. There will always be a waste bin provided. I didn’t know about this prior to arriving, but it’s the case everywhere I’ve been. The busier tourist areas tend to have a sign in English explaining this, but I’ve come across many that don’t, where you still need to abide by this rule. Better to know ahead of time than have to deal with a clogged toilet!