When we first moved to Costa Rica, we based ourselves in San Jose. San Jose is in a great spot half way between the two coasts, half way between Nicaragua and Panama, and nestled in the Central Valley. The temperature doesn’t vary much, hovering between 68-85 F (20-30 C). There are great restaurants, theaters, festivals, museums and cheap public transportation.
I did not enjoy it.
Let me be clear; this is not San Jose’s fault. I don’t like cities. I never have, and there are exactly two cities I love, and one I like for non-visiting purposes. I loved everything that San Jose had to offer. I loved going out for lunch and dinner and the art festival and the markets. But the constant hum of the city, the echoes of autos and people and construction on concrete and pavement — it was like wearing an ill-fitting dress.
Jonathan loved the city. Our reactions on returning could not have been more different. As we drove back to Puerto Viejo after my trip to the US to pick up our pups, Jonathan said, “It was so good to be back in San Jose. I didn’t realize how much I missed it.”
I stared at him somewhat incredulously. “Really? I hadn’t realized how much I didn’t like it.”
Story of our lives, really.
We’d taken a few weekend trips while in San Jose, knowing that we would want to move on and explore more of Costa Rica. We enjoyed Puerto Viejo, and I was able to find a house that fit my specifications, and here we are.
Boy, did we luck out. I love where we are. I didn’t research much about the different areas of Puerto Viejo, which are defined by the beaches they surround. In order, starting from Puerto Viejo and heading south, you have Puerto Viejo, Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Punta Uva, and Manzanillo, after which is the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge.
We ended up in Cocles. The house is less than a five minute walk from the main street, down a dirt road, nestled in the not-so-quiet rain forest. At the corner of our road and the main road sits the community center: a cafe/chocolatier/yoga studio/hostel and a bar. Across from them, the beach.
Caribeans sits below Om Yoga, and draws the morning and day crowd. They make their own chocolate and you can pick which chocolate you would like in your mocha frappuccino. (Chile or mint chocolate, anyone?)
The evenings, the crowd moves next door to Tasty Waves, where something is going on every night of the week except Wednesday. Trivia Night, Movie Night, Game Night, Karaoke Night. If you’re a partier, you don’t want to miss Tuesdays. The schedule says they close at 2am, but that seems more a light suggestion than a rule.
I’m not sure what makes this a better fit for me than San Jose. Is it the small town? Is it living surrounded by nature? I had a fantastic community in San Jose. I’m seeing the germination of fitting into a fantastic community here. But already, I feel more at home. I think I’ve gone out and been more social in my two weeks here than in my four months in San Jose. (That may be an exaggeration, but not by much.)
We’ve got some friends passing through and coming to visit in the next month, and I can’t wait to introduce them to this chill and bright corner of Costa Rica.
(For more pro-San Jose info, visit Journeys With Jessie.)