Posted by: davepidgeon | March 23, 2009

Letting go of independence

Alison, my fiance, and I have given up something of ourselves for this Costa Rica honeymoon. No, not the freedom of having a single life … well, yes, I guess we are sacrificing that, but we do so with no regrets … but a sense of independence. We’ve contracted with a travel agency to set up our itinerary and arrange transportation, a sharp contrast from the last time we ventured to international borders. Then, we rented a car for a 10-day road trip through the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which meant we traveled in-country at our own pace, saw what we wanted to see, were beholden to no strict time schedule.

We prefer to travel that way, but Costa Rica presented some frustrating hurdles when it came to setting up a similar trip. For one thing, Costa Rica is teeming with options from beachcombing to zip lining to canyoneering to whitewater rafting. While that makes the Central American country an advantageous place to get your eco-tourism on, trying to piece together an itinerary can be overwhelming. This is also our first trip to Latin America, and I don’t care how many books you read about traveling there, nothing will prepare you for your first actual experience. And from what we have read, the roads are less than ideal, tourists are commonly targeted by thieves right out the airport and Costa Rican driving habits make downtown Manhattan seem like Grover’s Corners, N.H. 

So we opted to go with a travel agency, Costa Nican Tours. They asked us what we wanted to do (EVERYTHING!), and based on that they put together an itinerary loaded with adrenaline-inducing activities. Another nice thing with Costa Nican is how they will provide private transportation from point to point to point for us, so we don’t have to worry about renting a car or crashing the car. 

The flip side, however, is we give up a little of the independence, the sense of adventure that comes with traveling by your own means. While in Ireland, we made a number of side trips or quick stops which led us to some wonderful conversations and experiences. If you’re ever in the small town of Six Mile Bride, stop at the neighborhood pub and share a drink with the old gabbers and watch a game of hurling to see what I mean. 

We probably won’t have those kinds of experiences in Costa Rica. I suspect most of the hotel staff where we’re staying speak English, so we won’t need to learn a new language. We’ll probably have to stay grounded in our hotels since we won’t have our own means of transportation, so no spontaneous exploring. I believe, though, we have less chance of getting lost, which means our marriage will start off with the right tone.

This brings me to another concern I have – Costa Nican Tours has us enjoying a day trip in Manuel Antonio National Park, a tiny protected alcove of jungle and beaches that is the most popular in the country. Unfortunately, it appears we may have a mistake. Costa Nican has us there on a Monday, but the park is closed on a Monday. I’m going to do some investigating to see what’s what.

Here at the eve of our trip, I wonder about how much we gain versus how much we sacrifice by going with a tour operator.

The New York Times published Sunday an article about Costa Rica. It’s not well written (the author compares the country to a Rorschach test. Huh?), but it gives you just a sampling of what you have coming to you in Costa Rica. Enjoy the slideshow, too.

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Responses

  1. Soooooo, you’re gonna have to spend 1 night in the jungle alone upon arrival. That actually sounds awesome. Except for the jaguars.


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