When planning for our honeymoon, we knew we wanted to get out of the US. Aside from a short weekend stay in Vancouver, Canada when I was 12 (before Passports were required), I’ve never traveled internationally and never used my Passport. We tossed around Europe, but it was too expensive. We thought about Iceland, but we decided we wanted warm weather. Then, we started thinking about Costa Rica. Bobby had been there a few times with friends, so he was familiar with the culture. We looked at plan tickets and they averaged $300/person round-trip! SOLD! And just like that, our honeymoon plans were made.
Day 1: Traveling to Costa Rica
We had to wake up at 3am to get to the airport for our 6:30am flight. Bobby stayed awake overnight so he could finish packing. I didn’t go to bed until 11pm because I was STILL putting away stuff from the wedding. Needless to say, it was going to be a long day!
When we first arrived in Costa Rica, we had to find our shuttle to the rental car company. As we exited the airport, I noticed A LOT of people along the fence yelling. Mary! Daniel! Lorena! Stephen! The men were looking for the people who arranges taxis/shuttles. It was a bit overwhelming because in the US, the drivers just hold a sign with the person’s last name. In that moment, I almost felt like a celebrity. It was like I was Kim Kardashian and everyone wanted my photo. There were so many people yelling and I just kept my head down as Bobby led me to the shuttles.
A man greeted us from the rental car company. He was very friendly and spoke good English. He told us about his recent trip to Washington, D.C. where he experienced a real American BBQ. He smiled, “It was just like the movies! On a deck with a grill!”
When the shuttle arrived, a porter offered to load my bag onto the shuttle, which I allowed. Later, Bobby told me to never let someone take my bag. It hit me. I was in a 3rd world country. And there’s a possibility that someone could just take your bag.
When we got to the rental car company, the men at the front desk were friendly and spoke good English. At this point, I realized that all of our interactions had been with men. In a 3rd world country, men need jobs to support their families. Even desk jobs like receptionist were taken by men.
After we got our rental car (a Daihatsu Terios),we jumped on the highway and headed towards Esterillos Este. There were no street signs or addresses. Only main highways had route numbers, but there are only 4 major highways in Costa Rica. We were advised to use Waze (a navigation app) to get to location. NO ONE obeys traffic laws — people were driving in the opposite lane towards incoming traffic. The roads were poorly maintained with pot holes everywhere, causing drivers to swerve. Locals walked along the side of the road in what we call a “bike lane”. Young children and animals would also walk in this narrow lane, getting passed by cars going 80km/h (about 50mph). It didn’t seem to bother them and we never saw or heard of any accidents.
It took us about 2 hours to get to Esterillos Este. Just before entering Esterillos, we stopped at the Tarcoles bridge. This bridge is a famous hangout location for American Crocodile. We walked across the bridge (in the “bike lane”) to catch a glimpse. Sure enough, there were over 20 HUGE crocs hanging out about 15-20 feet under the bridge. Some of the crocs were 8-9feet long!
The sun had just set as we arrived to Encantada Ocean Cottages. We made it just in time for dinner — we were starving! As an appetizer, we had malanga (served like chips) with medium homemade salsa. It was probably my favorite dish in Costa Rica! We bother ordered casados – a traditional Costa Rican meal using rice, beans, plantains, salad and meat. Bobby got the Red Snapper and I ordered chicken. It was very good!
Bobby and I were both exhausted from a full day of travel. We had been awake for almost 20 hours, so we headed straight to bed after dinner.