Trading lives: new Costa Rican expat heads to the tropics

As I settle back into life in Las Vegas, some of my very favorite travelers are headed to Costa Rica! Yes, I’m jealous, but I‘m living the dream myself in Las Vegas, so I can’t complain. But I can live vicariously through my friends! One of them, Helen, is gearing up for some serious expat time in Central America. And she was kind enough to write a guest blog for me, including some of her favorite pictures from her previous trip to Costa Rica, the one where she fell in love with like I did. Enjoy!

I stumbled across Abby’s blog at work one day, having just returned from a truly amazing trip to Costa Rica. Well, as Abby returns to the bright lights of Las Vegas I’m leaving my (lovely!) job and heading back to Costa Rica for four months. Here are five reasons why I just had to return:

  1. 1. Pura Vida!

Used as an exclamation, a greeting, or just at the end of every single sentence, “pure life” is a phrase that captures the genuine love of life that many Costa Rican’s seem to display. I ended up in hospital during my trip and was surprised and entertained to see doctors cranking up a hip-hop playlist on their computer and dancing around the room as they bandaged me up!

  1. 2. It’s like being in the middle of a Disney movie!

You know that bit in Snow White, where she’s walking along a woody path as all sorts of woodland animals peep out of hedges and scamper out to join her? Well, the animals aren’t always as cute and friendly and, sadly, don’t talk, but many areas of Costa Rica are sort of like that. Such epic biodiversity in such a relatively small area means there is a high concentration of very cool animals: monkeys are everywhere, vividly coloured birds abound and huge crab eating lizards rub up against your leg as you’re having dinner (true story!) What’s more, Puerto Viejo is home to the world’s only sloth sanctuary if you want to see something so cute you could actually die. As Costa Rica has some of the most accessible jungles in the world you don’t have to travel far from civilisation to get lost in nature.

  1. 3. The surf is always up

Costa Rica is a haven for surfers having some of the best and most consistent waves in the world including, if this means anything to you (!), the longest left break in the world at Pavones. I’ve never touched a surfboard and am not sure I ever will: It looks far too difficult and more than a little dangerous! However, whether you ride the waves or not, surfer’s towns tend to have a great, chilled out, ambiance. Nothing beats watching the people who know how it’s done catch giant wave after giant wave, from the comfort of the beach.

  1. 4. The highs and the lows

Costa Rica forms part of the Pacific ‘ring of fire’: a huge circle that contains more than 452 volcanoes and more than 75 percent of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes. What this means is that the country has a mind blowing variety of landscapes to explore and, due to its comparatively small size, you can begin the day on the beach and end it watching the explosions from the mouth of active volcano Arenal.

  1. 5. Life’s a beach

Apt for a country named the rich coast, Costa Rica is almost synonymous with great beach life. Whilst the interior of the country boasts multiple charms and attractions, it’s the beaches that seduced me: from the rugged beauty of Puerto Viejo to the clear blue calm of Manuel Antonio national park, Costa Rica is made for beach bums. The beaches I visited were less blindingly white and powder soft than the ones I had seen in Thailand, but I found them far more beautiful. Again, the proximity of the jungle to many of the beaches is part of the magic….it really can feel very Jurassic park at times.

When I was looking to travel I asked myself if it was silly to return to a country I had already been to when there were so many other amazing places in Central and South America to explore. However, no other country has quite the combination of the above elements, and that is what makes Costa Rica so seductive. And that, really, is why I had to return.

This is a guest post by Helen Cross, who works for travel site Simonseeks, where you can find worldwide travel inspiration as well as expert rated London hotels.

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I'm a life-long travel junkie journalist who works hard to find adventure in everyday life after two years of travel and expat living.

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  1. I imagine it will also be hard when I go back home, but like you I’m sure I’ll return.

  2. Have the best time Helen!!! Pura vida chica. 🙂

  3. Oooh thank you for the post Abby!! I’m sure I’ll have a great time; can’t wait to read about your Vegas adventures! 🙂

  4. Now, I want to visit a sloth sanctuary! So cute.

  5. ARGH!! This makes me want to go to Costa Rica even more. Abby — stop doing this to me. Helen — enjoy!!! You make CR sound like a dream!

  6. Yay! Reading this got me very psyched up; I’m taking my family on a volunteer vacation in Costa Rica soon, and I’ll show this post to my kids tomorrow.

  7. Would love to go to Costa Rica sometime!

  8. Shaun and I are hoping to rent for a month in Costa Rica during our travels. I’m hoping to experience this “pura vida” that you and Abby have talked so much about!

    Have fun!

  9. Torture! Pure torture I tell you! Take me away now to Pura Vida!

  10. Life’s a beach and I love to surf. It is probably why I have been to Costa Rica 4 times. And the people are amazing too!

  11. the sloth looks really cute, although I thought sloths were much bigger that that. Either way, now I want to go to Costa Rica

  12. This post makes me want to go to Costa Rica so badly!!! Somehow I still haven’t made it there yet. I love that “pura vida” attitude, and I would adore seeing all of those cute monkeys!

  13. Great pictures and post, Helen! I hadn’t realized how many volcanoes were in CR. I also love the Disney movie reference.

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