One of our Wetravel bloggers, Kayla, is participating in a work-exchange program in Costa Rica for about a month. Enthusiastic about travel, she’s sharing her adventures, experience, and the lessons she’s learned in Costa Rica through our blog posts!
When I booked my flight to Costa Rica, I had no idea what I was in for. Sure, I’ve traveled alone before, but I’ve never really done a trip outside of the United States by myself.
Upon arrival, I was given my first test– getting to the hostel. The night prior, I had arranged a shuttle service, but now, I couldn’t even get a hold of the driver (new country, no cellular service). Luckily, a taxi driver named Eduardo sensed my confusion, offering to share his Wifi network with me and give me a ride.
After checking my email, I saw a confirmation that the service was on its way, finally reassured that I’d get to where I needed to be. Eduardo left to drive someone else, and I sat and waited… for more than one hour. When he returned, he asked what had happened, saying the hostel definitely wasn’t an hour’s distance away. I asked to borrow his Wifi one last time and saw another email that had come in thirty minutes prior. Evidently, the shuttle had broken down on its way over. Just my luck, right? That was my cue to get a ride with Eduardo, so I agreed to his services without seeing the car.
Lesson 1: Always take a red taxi. I had already read this before leaving the United States; yet, I still forgot to make sure in that moment. Red taxis are the official taxis of the country. Pirate taxis (“taxis piratas”), on the other hand, charge whatever they want, may not necessarily use the meter (“la maria”), and are generally not as safe.
Lessons 2 and 3: Maybe I’m naive, but apparently, you’re supposed to sit in the back seat of the car, especially if you’re a female. I sat in the front (oops). I also mentioned that I was traveling alone… (double oops). I can see how it could’ve ended badly, but when Eduardo was asking about where I’m from and what I’m doing here, it naturally slipped out.
Fortunately, Eduardo prides himself on running an honest business, as he mentioned during the ride. As a red taxi driver, he “doesn’t believe in ripping people off” because then no one would ever use him again. Sounds like a solid business model to me! Now, we’re friends on Facebook, and I have his number saved in my phone. He offered to be a resource for travel help, and because of his trustworthiness, I will happily use his services again.
All in all, I suppose it’s been an educational travel trip so far. Aside from those initial “lessons,” I’ve taken two group tours already and enjoyed them immensely. The first was to the rainforest, where I visited the frog and butterfly garden and took an aerial tram through the trees, and the other was to Arenal Volcano. While I enjoy venturing out into the city by myself or with a few mates from the hostel, guides are extremely useful to have in terms of explaining the history of a place. So when planning your trip, I highly recommend trying to have a mix of both types of adventures.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more updates on my time in Costa Rica!
Featured Image Source: Kayla Bernadino