After a couple days teaching and adventuring with Fernando at my side, I rented a car and struck out on my own. Easy to do, since Costa Rica is one of the most developed, stable countries in Central America. They actually have things like safety regulations and paved roads.
Motorcycles and mopeds are all the rage around Liberia, but unlike what Karen and I saw in Asia, riders here don helmets, wear reflective vests, and limit the number of passengers to something resembling the manufacturer’s specifications.
Then again, this is still Central America. Eventually that paved road runs out.
At least that road leads to Playa del Coco, where Ticos and tourists alike were out enjoying the warm (like, 97 degrees Fahrenheit) day. I decided to cool off with a local treat.
Yep, that’s how I eat without Karen along to guide my culinary choices. Good thing she’s usually along.
The following morning was devoted to scuba diving. Since I earned my certification in Australia, diving has added more depth (get it, depth?) to how I experience coastal locales. I booked two dives with a company headquartered at Playa Ocotal. They set me up with a full complement of rented gear and whisked me to aptly-named Monkey Island.
It was just me and the divemaster on this excursion; he gave a quick description of the site and jumped into the water. Um, no buddy check? I ran down the safety checklist in my head and buddy-checked myself, but I’d feel more comfortable with another set of eyes on everything. Perhaps there’s a reason no one else booked with this company today.
Unfortunately, visibility is not great in the waters on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. For dazzling, Bonaire-like scenes, head for the Caribbean coast. Fortunately, I knew what to expect. I was happy to be back in the deep and pleasantly surprised at how bathwater-warm the water was (except for some startling thermoclines, where the temperature suddenly plunges).
Highlights for me were the green turtle who swam by, the spiny sea urchins that look like they’re staring at you with one eyeball, and the stingrays- lying around, swimming alone, and swimming in pairs.
At the second site, the water was colder and the visibility worse, so we had clearly peaked early. Saw a few more stingrays. For now, I wouldn’t herald Costa Rica as a diving mecca, but it was a fun morning… and there’s still the Caribbean side.
My real reason for being on the Pacific coast isn’t granizados or diving. A friend of mine from high school just happens to be spending a year in Costa Rica, teaching nearby. Next Stop: Beth’s place!