Saturday, July 13, 2024

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Costa Rica; The Land of People who have found The Secret to a Long and Happy Life…

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Costa Rica, one of the most beautiful countries in Central America, has been named the happiest country in the world in many surveys. This country, which has no army, and cares about nature and the environment, is worth seeing. Costa Rica means rich coast in Spanish. We arrived in this beautiful country for a 4-day trip with a three-hour flight from Fort Lauderdale airport. The first thing we did after arriving in the capital city of San Jose was to go to the Rent-A-Car office. I had already reserved the car online and got a great deal, but I paid a lot more at the checkout. The reason for this was that Costa Rica has very high taxes. The influence of the government was evident in the high taxes we paid everywhere we went. Of course, this was returned to the people, as they provided free education and health care.

So, if you rent a car when you get there, don’t be surprised if they ask for more money than what is written on the internet. At that time, there was an earthquake news on the TV in the office and it turned out that there was a big earthquake while we were in the air. There was a tsunami warning on the Pacific coast. So, we decided to change the destination and go north to the Caribbean coast. When we arrived at the Casa Isabella Hotel in San Jose, we were greeted by the owner of the hotel, Dutch Robert, his Costa Rican wife, and their young son. It was as if we were visiting our relatives and staying in their homes. There was a friendly atmosphere. They prepared our breakfast in the morning and we ate it either in the garden or the dining room. They gave us a penthouse room.

Since the hotel was on the hills of San Jose, we had the chance to watch the whole city from the window. For dinner, we went to a restaurant recommended by the hotel owner. Costa Rican food is natural and healthy, especially seafood and fruits are consumed a lot, and you don’t see overweight or obese people around you because they eat healthily. During the time we were there, my stomach was very comfortable. Another feature I like is their importance to nature and the environment. You cannot see plastic around. In most countries, plastic tables and chairs are used in outdoor spaces but not in Costa Rica. You already notice it when you arrive on the plane. They protect the green nature and forests everywhere. The state imposes big sanctions on this issue, but the people follow the rules. Thus, they enjoy living in a beautiful country with plenty of oxygen and clean air. Unlike other Central American countries, the crime rate is not high and there is not even an army in this country, you rarely see the police or civil or rural guards. Costa Rica decided not to have a military so that they could spend more money on basic needs that would ensure the development of its citizens. Because of this, the Costa Ricans get clean drinking water, nutritious food, access to toilets, and housing. This ensures that people lead healthy lives.

The currency here is colon but they also accept dollars. For this reason, we did not need to change money much, but if you need a colon, use an exchange office because people can give fewer colones when exchanging dollars.

On the way to Limon on the Caribbean coast, our second city on the trip, we saw debris from the hurricane on the roads. We had lunch at the Rio Danta (Tapir River) Restaurant, which was just like our trout restaurants.

The cook woman cut the fish she caught from the river for us, cooked it, and served it to us with rice, beans, and plantains (a kind of fried banana), which are indispensable for Latinos. The factory where chocolate is made with cocoa trees, we saw on the road also attracted our attention. After seeing the port of Limon and the city center, we arrived at the Happy Land holiday village, which I found on the Internet. After registering at the reception desk, the attendant they gave us to go to our bungalow got into our car and showed us the way. I was interested to see that he had a pistol on his waist. As in most Central American countries, hotel security guards carried guns. The next morning, we were very interested in breakfast because Costa Ricans eat a lot of beans and rice and they eat this traditional dish called Gallo Pinto for breakfast. We were also very interested to see a school bus full of students swimming in the hotel pool.

Our next stop was Puerto Viejo, a small coastal town in the Caribbean, but very developed in terms of tourism and attracting a lot of tourists because of its beautiful beaches. The name means old port in Spanish, and in this town, there was a very Caribbean style of relaxed life and even street vendors were resting in hammocks right next to their stalls. The beaches were free and beautiful. It was full of tourists, but this was a very modest town, we would even say underdeveloped. 

Thanks to the clarity and cleanliness of the ocean we had a very pleasant swim. In the evening we hit the road again and stayed at the Salamanca Hotel in Guapiles. I will never forget my experience in this hotel as long as I live. They had built a huge pool in the garden of the hotel but it was not for swimming. It was an ornamental pool. Geese and ducks were swimming. We hardly slept at night because of their noise and shouting.

The next day we went to Atlántico Park. I bought the entrance tickets at a discount on the Internet. First, we visited the rainforests from above with the cable cars called Aerial trams, where a few people can sit. we saw the animals wandering below. The rain didn’t stop. Then they made us wear special raincoats, we put helmets on our heads. The officers tied a safety rope to us. We looked like soldiers going to the front. We came to the area where we would zip line by trucks. A canopy zipline tour is multiple platform stops that you will stop at in between each zip line. So, we went between the platforms by sliding on the steel ropes attached to the wheeled pulleys. After flying between nine such stations, we came to the last station called Adrenaline Hill. Our adrenaline went through the roof when we were flying from this station. Because it took a very long time and we almost fell into the river by sliding down from the top to the bottom. On the other hand, it was still raining. I can say that this is the number one activity that I would especially recommend to those who want to go to Costa Rica, we had a lot of fun, and we had a lot of excitement and pleasure. On the way back, we saw that the bridge we had just crossed was flooded, we waited there for a while because the vehicle could not enter that water, then they sent us a special vehicle, we could only go back with it because everything was flooded and everyone was screaming as we passed. We barely made it through. This was not a park show. It was the real thing. We were in danger of flooding and we were very excited. When we got back to the main entrance, we dried off, changed our wet clothes, and headed back to San Jose in the dark. When we reached Casa Isabella, we were as happy as we were back home.

The next morning Robert prepared us a Costa Rican breakfast. After the fruit, he put bean paste and eggs on tortillas and brought us a breakfast unique to this place. In Costa Rica, they eat fruit before the meal, which makes sense from a health point of view. When you eat fruit on top of meals, the fruit comes into contact with the food in the stomach, and the balance is disturbed. This leads to gas and bloating. Eating fruit on an empty stomach regulates the nervous system. It provides positive effects on skin health.

The hotel was like our home, we loved it very much and when I searched to go back later, I learned that it was closed. If it was open, I would recommend it to you with peace of mind.

After saying goodbye to Robert and his family, we went to return the rental car and arrived at the airport, where check-in and security clearance were easy. As in most Central American countries, they charge a fee called exit tax and they want it in cash. It would be good to have cash with you at all times. Also, just as we were getting on the plane, they searched the bags by hand once again and confiscated my creams. They told me “You didn’t put them in the Ziplock bag”. This reason seemed ridiculous to me. Because what they found objectionable and eliminated, they would have let me take it with me if I had put it in a zip lock bag. They gave me a hard time because I didn’t put it in a plastic bag. I was also surprised that Costa Ricans, who care so much about nature, asked me to use a plastic bag when I was about to leave.

As I looked at the lush green forests from the plane, I was once again amazed at how beautifully nature is preserved and the expression “Pura Vida”, or “pure life”, which Costa Ricans use a lot, came to my mind. This expression, which they usually use to say “hey”, “what’s up”, “how are you?”, “take care”, “goodbye”, “take care of yourself”, and “goodbye” as greetings, good wishes, or farewells, actually summarized their view of life in a very beautiful way. They live life simply and happily. Who knows, maybe that is why they are the happiest country in the world in most surveys. They are not very rich but they live a healthy life in nature with natural nutrition, fresh air, and plenty of movement. 

Costa Rica is currently home to one of the five Blue Zones in the world. Blue Zones are regions of the world where people live longer and healthier lives. People in these regions age more slowly and have a higher quality of life as they age. The Nicoya Peninsula is home to many centenarians or people who live past 100. For this reason, many Americans buy a house in Costa Rica to spend their retirement.  The people of this region are mentally healthy and spiritually fulfilled and reach the age of 100. It has the lowest mid-life mortality rate in the world, and it’s a place I would choose to live. After so many years of being exposed to the American way of life, I don’t know if a miracle could extend my life there

Costa Rica is safe and clean, not expensive, and does not require a visa, so it is a country where you can easily go and visit. I would recommend it.

Your Friend who loves traveling…

Canan Sezgin

Instagram: @cansez2013

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2 COMMENTS

  1. BA YIL DIM Canan’ım, kalemine sağlık, anlatımınla insan kendini bir an bile olsa oraya gitmiş gibi hissediyor. Hem tebrik ederim hem de çoooook teşekkür ederim.

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