Nicaragua and Costa Rica are two different worlds, despite being neighboring countries. First, the obvious: Nicaragua isn’t as touristic and the cost of living is much cheaper. It can seem more dangerous (although I felt safe most of the time!) and it’s not as “developed” as Costa Rica. Nicaragua has more cities, more culture and more history. By contrast, Costa Rica is a destination for nature lovers, surfers and beach-bums.
I admit it, I’m more into culture and people than animals and trees. I’m a city girl. I’d rather get lost in the crowd, in a busy market, than hiking a trail in the middle of nowhere.
But hey, gotta adapt, right? I’m curious by nature (no pun intended) and I like to explore.
I had heard about Cabo Blanco National Park, the first protected area in the country and I thought it could be cool to try to spot animals in their natural habitat. Plus the longest trail was supposed to lead to a nice remote beach and the perspective of a dip after a sweaty hike was enough to motivate me to go to the park.
A five-kilometre long hike? I can do it. I climbed a volcano all alone, God dammit!
The bus trip was supposed to be 50-minute long but it only took 20 minutes to reach the park, 11 kilometres from Montezuma. It is the dry season and the road was so dusty that the bus driver actually wore a mask.
The first part of the hike was relatively easy and, soon enough, I saw several coatis (members of the raccoon family) and a long snake in a tree (then I started to be paranoid and really watched where I was stepping!). The hike became harder and I had to focus on… well, putting one foot in front of the other. I climbed hills, climbed over fallen tree trunks, crossed small rivers… Just when I was about to complain about hiking in the woods, I spotted an armadillo moving toward me. Okay, being into the wild was cool, after all.
The last part of the hike was tough. I heard the waves in the distance but it might have been a mirage—I couldn’t see the beach. Finally, I spotted it, hidden behind bamboos.
To be fair, it wasn’t the most beautiful beach I have ever seen but at this precise moment, it was paradise. I was sweaty, covered in dust, hungry and I had itchy mosquito bites on my legs. The water cured it all (not hunger though—empanadas and tortillas with a can of tuna did).
The way back was easier as it was mostly downhill (and I couldn’t feel my legs anyway). After that, I beach-bummed for the rest of the day… I deserved it, right?
You can see the complete set of Costa Rica on Flickr.