I’m sitting in a few inches of water, eagerly anticipating the next big wave. When it comes, it’s far stronger than I expected it to be. I’m slapped in the face, knocked off my rear and whipped around by its power. As the wave recedes, I rise to my knees and crawl back to the water line…to start the game all over again. It’s me vs. the violent ocean.
I wound up playing around at the edge of the surf that day because the ocean at Playa Hermosa was too dangerous to go in for all but the most accomplished surfers.
But that wasn’t going to stop me from enjoying it.
There were calmer waters five minutes down the road in the next bay, but I had visited that beach the previous weekend. And one of my goals while living in Costa Rica is to visit as many beaches as I can while I’m here.
Each beach and each bay are dramatically different from each other in landscape, and sometimes even in culture.
Take Jaco and Hermosa. Jaco has calm waters suited for wading or learning how to surf. It has beige sand, it’s popular with tourists and expats, it’s banked by luxury condos and it has a variety of stores and restaurants. On Jaco, there’s always a party to be found.
But drive five minutes south and you come to Hermosa. Unlike sheltered Jaco, the ocean here is brutally powerful…so it’s packed with professional surfers. Hermosa’s sense of excitement, bordering on menace, is reinforced by dark gray/black sand and squadrons of scarlet macaws screeching overhead.
Hermosa is home to a just a few quaint hotels, bars, and restaurants. It’s not as busy as Jaco, and the culture is a lot more relaxed. There’s a more bohemian vibe.
Back in the States, trips to the beach were a rare treat—because accommodation was just too expensive. But here in Costa Rica, that’s just not a problem. I can grab a clean, well-appointed room in a nice hotel right on the beach for $20 a night. Throw in another $10 and you get a seafood dinner right on the sand. Costa Rica isn’t the least expensive Latin American country, but it’s still a lot cheaper than the States.
The beach is a great place to visit, but I chose instead to live in the mountains of Costa Rica’s Central Valley. It’s cooler there and work is easy to come by…and the highland wildlife has a way of creeping into your everyday life. I drink my morning cup of Costa Rican coffee within eyeshot of various butterflies, iridescent hummingbirds, yellow-bellied flycatchers, and the occasional monkey, sloth or pizote.
My home is within reach of every corner of the country. From the Central Valley, I can visit beaches…volcanoes…national parks…rivers…waterfalls and rain forests.
How do I pay for this type of lifestyle? I teach English at a local university.
I had never taught English before coming to Costa Rica, and I’d no teaching qualifications either. But finding a job was easy. Why? Because I’m a native English speaker. People like us are in demand.
I choose to work part-time. The money I earn covers all my daily expenses and leaves plenty left for my frequent trips around the country. If you want more money, you can work more hours. Simple.
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