Dos and don’ts one can follow while in Costa Rica
By Sarah Walters
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
It is a bright, sunny afternoon. You are sitting on a porch that is only 50 feet from the water. There is a slight breeze and a smell of the salty water nearby. You hear the calls of birds and the swaying of the trees in the wind. You see the monkeys swinging from tree to tree, and the waves crashing against the sand. You are rocking back and forth in a comfy chair.
You are in Costa Rica on the vacation of your dreams.
There are different types of travelers when it comes to visiting other countries. The two main ones are adventurous and adrenaline seekers. Adventurousness pertains to those who wish to immerse themselves in another culture, whether that includes trying different foods or hiking a forest. The individuals who search for an adrenaline rush go to a country to climb its tallest mountain, jump off a cliff or even zipline over a rainforest.
Costa Rica is a country that complements both individuals’ deepest desires. It takes the different ends of the spectrum for traveling and combines them into one unique experience. It is a country that does not confine its visitors, but embraces them to their fullness.
However, one must be fully prepared for traveling abroad, especially Costa Rica, or they will not get the full experience that the country offers. If travelers do not take care, Costa Rica can be just as dangerous as the travelers can be destructive.
Advice for Travelers
To begin, one of the major necessities for Costa Rica is to bring a variety of shoes! According to the Costa Rica Tourism Official website (Tips for travelers | Visit Costa Rica | Costa Rica Tourism Official website), “BRING THE RIGHT SHOES! There are a ton of fun things to do in Costa Rica, and you don’t want your footwear to limit you or give you blisters. A pair of sandals and some decent sneakers should do fine. If you plan on doing some serious hiking or climbing, consider some heavier-duty options.” Costa Rica is a country that is ruled by nature and all that it contains. Meaning that you are surrounded by wildlife 24/7, and they might not always be as friendly as we want them to be.
In an interview with Nefantee Meyers, she said, “I studied abroad in Costa Rica for three weeks. … When we went hiking in the rainforest on the eighth day, one of my friends was almost bit by a poisonous snake. Had it not been for her heavy-duty boots, she would have been bitten.”
Although it might make the suitcase heavier, it is essential to bring a variety of shoes to Costa Rica. This includes but is not limited to:
√ Water shoes
√ Any other closed-toe shoes
As the saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Next up on the essential things to do is bring a mosquito net. A mosquito net is a mesh curtain that drapes over your bed to provide a barrier between you and the mosquitos and other insects. According to IFRC Go (Mosquito nets [ifrcgo.org]), “Mosquito nets are one of the most important ways to protect against malaria and other diseases spread by mosquitoes.”
As silly as it might sound, a mosquito net can be the most influential factor in whether your personal health is affected during your journey to Costa Rica. As previously stated, when you enter Costa Rica, you are entering nature in its truest form, meaning you must not disturb it while still protecting yourself. The mosquito net provides a nonviolent solution to the concern of one contracting a disease from nature.
Many individuals travel to Costa Rica for the views and nature, but what many do not know is you can contribute to preserving Costa Rica during your short-term visit. During an interview with Elleni Zeleke, something remarkable was discovered. Zeleke stated, “During my time in Costa Rica, I learned as much from the locales as I could. I discovered there is such a thing called an Ecobrick. This is a system that has been used to maintain Costa Rica’s cleanliness while attracting as many visitors as it does.”
According to Ecobricks (What is an Ecobrick? | Ecobricks.org), “An Ecobrick is a PET bottle packed solid with clean and dry used plastic. Ecobricks are made manually to a set density to sequester plastic and create reusable building blocks. In this way, Ecobricks keep plastic from degrading into toxins and microplastics and out of high-energy, high-emission industrial processes. But most of all, the hands-on process of ecobricking deepens our awareness of these issues and their regenerative alternatives – what we call plastic transition.”
Ecobricks are a way to improve Costa Rica, leave a lasting impression with the locales, and evolve your perspective on ecotourism.
It is well known that Costa Rica is a country that thrives on ecotourism. So, there are plenty of daily activities that one might not think twice about doing, but should, while in Costa Rica. For example, applying sunscreen in such an intense spotlight from the sun is common sense for most individuals. However, normal sunscreen should not be used in Costa Rica if you plan on entering the water after applying the sunscreen. It can harm the coastal reefs and wildlife that Costa Rica is trying so hard to preserve.
However, do not fret, as there is sunscreen that is not harmful to the wildlife. In fact, the following link brings you to a page that describes what in the sunscreen is harmful and where you can buy nature-friendly sunscreen.
Another action that should not be taken in Costa Rica is as tempting as it might be, DO NOT FEED THE MONKEYS. According to Destination Tips (20 Things You Should Not Do in Costa Rica - Destination Tips), “Conditioning them (the monkeys) to expect human handouts diminishes their self-reliant survival instincts. Monkeys usually roam 17 km per day, but if they know people are going to feed them, they get lazy and don’t get the exercise they need. Our food isn’t good for monkeys and contrary to popular belief, even bananas aren’t the ideal food choice (many are laden with pesticides).”
Mary Vanek can attest to the above statement. She said, “While I was in Costa Rica, I visited a national park, where it was not allowed to bring food in. I was confused at first but, after purchasing ice cream within the park, I soon realized why. The monkeys climbed down to the tables and tried to grab the ice cream from us (I was with friends), and even took one of our bags. After talking with a guide, we discovered this behavior is a consequence of being constantly fed by humans. These monkeys have become lazy and aggressive due to being ‘trained’ that they can get human food whenever they want.”
So, to prevent further destruction, avoid going close or feeding monkeys. However, this advice is not limited to just monkeys, as it pertains to all wildlife within Costa Rica.
If you are nervous about the trip being too expensive, do not worry! There are affordable companies that are willing to take one individual or the whole family to Costa Rica. For example, EF Ultimate Break (The Best Way to Travel Young | Fun, Affordable Group Trips| EF Ultimate Break) provides trips all over the world with itineraries full of activities. Their incredibly low prices include airfare, lodging, and even meals! They communicate with their travelers to find an affordable payment plan, to make the trip cost less overwhelming. This section of the company is directed toward 18-29-year-old individuals, but the company does have other sections dedicated to those outside this age group.
EF Ultimate Break provides two different trips to Costa Rica, to give potential travelers different options that might better suit their desires.
Traveling with a company provides a stress-free environment – before, during and after your trip. A simple Google search of traveling companies will provide potential travelers with endless opportunities to travel both nationally and internationally.
These advices are the top dos and don’ts from previous visitors of Costa Roca. It is up to the traveler if they would like to follow this advice, it is simply here to help prepare future travelers for Costa Rica.
√ If you are looking for tips for specific activities within Costa Rica, click here.
√ If you are looking for more general tips regarding Costa Rica, click here.
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