First time I went to Costa Rica, in 2006, I went to the wrong side. Not as much as where Darth Vader wanted to bring Luke, but Puerto Viejo was way darker than we expected the Caribbean to be.
After a US$10 night at Hotel Central of Alajuela, the airport city near San Jose, my best friend Marina and I headed to the bus station. Although the idea was to go to Cahuita, we ended up buying a ticket to the best-known town of Puerto Viejo. Probably a mistake; although perhaps Cahuita would also be disappointing.
What was wrong with Puerto Viejo? This is what I wrote in 2006:
(…) the sea was agitated and not that blue, the sand is dark and the city is like a little beach town. But the most impressive was the night. We went out for a beer and we met 5 funny Americans, good people… One of them works for Google, so I asked him if he had Orkut and he answered me: “Orkut is my friend!”. What? Orkut is a person, the guy who created Orkut! Orkut also works at Google, and they are friends!! So good, I told him he needs to take Orkut to Brazil, it will be just success !!
We played a giant chess game, it was fun. Then we found a local party, and that was the best. When we arrived, I felt the energy very heavy. We went in and began to dance. I have never seen people like this. They have dark skin (Indian type), but the pulled eye (Japanese type) and dreads and Rastafarian hair! It was a culture shock for me, I’ve never been to a place with different-looking people like that, and we were actually the strangest ones. I liked it a lot, but we decided to leave because we found the energy of the place rather uncomfortable.
I have been back to Costa Rica and now I absolutely love it, and people I’ve met there were wonderful. When I wrote this post, in 2006, I was quite naive. We were camping and those Americans had given us some weird ecstasy, so paranoia was probably in the emotions mix. Still, 12 years later, I won’t recommend Puerto Viejo to any traveler – perhaps try Cahuita and let me know how it is?