I’ve left a part of my heart in Puerto Viejo, but I will return to retrieve it.
Last weekend, 16 of us took a trip to Puerto Viejo, independent from the travel agency and AIFS. Within 10 minutes of being in PV (I’m going to refer to it as that from now on), I knew that 1) I was going to have an unforgettable weekend and 2) it would not be my last there.
Upon arrival in PV, we were all pretty exhausted from the sweltering five hour bus ride, but once we got to Rocking J’s (our hostel), our energy quickly returned. The hostel itself was a spectacleーwriting on the walls and wooden posts from previous guests, witty “house rules” and employees, and beautiful mosaic floors and cement pillars. The entire weekend we slept in a giant open room with about 30 hammocks in it, which was surprisingly enjoyable.
I’m just going to go straight to Saturday because it was one of my favorite days on this entire Costa Rica trip. We had a private tour at the Jaguar Rescue Center in Punta Cocles in the morning. The private tour cost $50 but it was worth every penny, or should I say colones. We basically had the entire place to ourselves, no other groups were there. We got to see every animal from snakes to sloths. But the best part was when we spent time in the monkey room. I had never felt such euphoria similar to when I was interacting with the monkeys. I could show you an entire album of photos from the monkey room, but the ones included on this page are my favorites.
What I like about the rescue center is that they are a non-profit aiming to rehabilitate animals in order to release them. They also only have animals that are native to Costa Rica, so you get a chance to see the typical wildlife up close, unlike in zoos. All that work at the center are volunteers, and they allow anyone interested to help out. I know for a fact that I will return one summer to do so. If you are ever in PV, I highly recommend this tour. Or if there are any animal rescue centers in the areas that you are traveling to, you should visit those.
After our tour, we decided to walk back since we weren’t too far from our hostel. I am taken aback by the beauty of Costa Rica every time I walk outside. Strolling along the tepid waters and the fine, plush sand of the Caribbean is blissful and a sensation I will long for forever.
Being that we had the entire day free, two other girls and myself decided to go to the beach that is relatively close to our hostel. Earlier that day, a girl had been mugged in broad daylight, so we wanted to stay close to our hostel in case we left the beach late. It’s important to understand that although places like PV are beautiful, there is still a risk of something happening because you are an automatic target and you need to be smart about the choices you make. Wherever you are, there is risk, especially in places you are not familiar with.
In the evening, we decided to hang out at the bar at Rocking J’s and then go to a bar close by, called The Lazy Mon. The bar, like everything in PV, had a great atmosphere and the friendliest people I’ve met. Both the locals and those traveling to PV are extraordinarily friendly. I’ve met people from as far away as Germany and as close as Monterey, California (a town only 15 minutes from where I live).
It’s difficult to explain my contentment as I had conversations with these interesting people who’ve backpacked across Europe or left everything to move to Costa Rica. Being in a hostel is like a community of strangers who all have one common goal: to have a good time. I now know why people enjoy living in hostels rather than hotels.
My experience in PV was unexpected, yet invigorating. I absolutely loved it. All I can really say is you all need to go because life is laid back there. I miss it already, but I will return.
Stacy Marquez blogs from San Jose, Costa Rica in the summer of 2015. The Journalism major chose a Spanish language immersion program for her international experience.