As a community of ex-pats from all around the world, Santa Teresa offered an incredibly variety of delicious, fresh foods. Even in the off-season, with many restaurants closed, we ate amazing falafel tacos at Taco Corner; house-made pastas and sauces at Tiramisu; and rich breakfasts, coffees, and pastries at The Bakery. Osa was at the bottom of our street and had vegan-friendly options every night with the coziest atmosphere. For more traditional foods, full of rice, beans, and plantains, we visited the local sodas.
Despite my fear of needles, I’m fascinated by tattoo parlors, and I had a fun time poking around Good Life Tattoo while Dom stained Trevor’s arm with a botanical iris sketch for our own Iris.
Mostly we wandered the muddied streets peeking into windows and discovering paths out to the vast surfing beaches. Trevor surfed a few days, and there is no shortage of spot to borrow boards. Jungle Boy Tours gave us a good deal on board rental and a fishing boat trip (but I’ll warn you that you better be ready to haggle with Josh, the owner). We drove out to Mal Pais a few times, visiting a commercial fishing operation and hiking out to Playa Los Suecos (The Secret Beach).
October is the rainy season in Costa Rica, and I don’t mean that it sprinkled throughout the day or that there was a thunderstorm every afternoon. Some of the days we were there, the sheets of rain poured without ceasing for a full 24-hours. Roads were washed out and new waterfalls were created all over town. If you're adventurous, then this won’t stop you from getting out there. We hiked in a downpour at the Cocolito trail, and it was one of my favorite experiences. The trail was like a staircase of tree roots, running alongside the mysterious and seemingly abandoned, though pristinely maintained, Garden of Eden, and there were no jungle sounds save for the rain beating down on the tree canopies. It felt like we were lost in the rainforest at the end of the world.
What stays with me more than anything else about this trip is the warmth of the people. With tourism so slow at that time of the year, we mostly met locals, who were always happy to sit, chat, share cheap beers. On our last day, there was a mixup with our ferry schedule back to Puntarenas, and we found ourselves at an empty port with no open businesses nearby and our rental car on empty. One security guard sat at a desk above the ferry ticket office, and he spoke no English words. I know enough Spanish to be friendly or to order food, but I’d never claim to be proficient enough to communicate well in a stressful situation. He was patient with me, though, piecing together what I butchered of his language. Then he hopped on his scooter, motioned for us to follow him, and he drove us to his friend’s house, where they sold us enough gas to make it to the next port town.
Back inland, we stopped deep in the mountains at El Toledo, a permaculture coffee farm that was a highlight of our stay. Between the inspiring farming methods, jaw-droppingly gorgeous setting, and Gabriel’s kindness and excitement (not to mention the coffee), I would say, no matter where you are in Costa Rica, go out of your way to get to this place.
Visiting Santa Teresa was an exciting, immersive, and relaxing trip. It is not for the faint of heart, but I loved every minute of our time in the place. It was my first time in that part of the world, my first time in a rainforest, and I was awed at the new-to-me, overwhelming beauty of its rough waters and wild tropical vegetation. It was a special trip in a special place.