I love travelling, yet the prospect of solo backpacking terrified me. It was a strange combination of utmost passion inlayed with fear. The feeling was like standing on the edge of a bungee platform. There is the desire to take the plunge yet it is plagued by the uncertainty of it all.
I went as far as cancelling my arranged holiday with work, before reinstating it again. I came to my senses and realized that I was scared of projected scenarios that didn’t equate to anything. Moving forward, I submitted an application 3 days before departure to Costa Rica. I didn’t accept I was going until I was at Gatwick Airport, backpack in hand, with a flight ticket that was only £275.00
I stroll up and down the plane. The Thomson flight consists nearly of all retired, British couples heading for Pacific coast resorts. I feel like a plastic bead on a pearl necklace – sticking out like a sore thumb due to my age, ethnicity and the fact that I’m travelling alone.
It’s always the first day in any new country. You feel like a anomaly. Noticeable. Vulnerable. I booked my first night near Liberia Airport. The only hostel in town was full so I ended up sleeping behind a shop on a Air B’n’B listing for £7.
My first day consists of landing at Liberia Airport, bleary eyed, yet trying to appear upbeat. I am constantly lost, half wishing that I didn’t just nod, smile and pretend I understood when he said “past central park, second right, second left etc etc…”
It was my first day and my sole aim was to explore Liberia whilst looking for the hostel booked for my 2nd night, Hospedaje Dodero. Liberia is a set out like a patchwork blanket, lots of squares and lots of intersecting roads. Easy in theory yet blindingly lost in practise.
My evening is spent at Cafe Liberia, highly recommended by Lonely Planet. I order a Ceviche whilst peering over a book. A young travelling couple sit a few tables away from me. Their faces shine from the humidity. I notice fly-away hair, sharp eyes and a well travelled t-shirt. Our eyes meet and I immediately feel a crushing sense of shyness. It’s the first day that’s always the hardest. I can’t help but drop my eyes back to my book.
I am drained from my flight. Yet it’s always the first day in any new country. I struggle to sleep, un-adjusted to the humidity and confused by the time difference. I jump out my of skin as the door creaks and my bed sinks with weight. It’s nothing more than a beautiful cat leaping on my mattress.
It’s always the first day in any new country. There are no plans, but I somehow spot a $15 round transfer to Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park. I book it for the next morning.
It was my first day in Costa Rica. There is nothing certain, but the uncertain.
- Liberia Airport is situated approximately 15km from Liberia City Centre. It’s a easy taxi ride for $20.00.
- You need to buzz a bell every time you leave and enter Hospedaje Dodero – the hostel is always locked (a good and bad thing!)
- The transfer to Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park is advertised everywhere. I booked a pick up from a nearby hotel as I doubted they would have picked me up from a random shop.
- Hostels are generally just $10.00 a night (£7.00!)
- Liberia is well connected with 2 bus terminals. Timetables are not always clear, it’s best just to ask the hostel!
- Both Costa Rican colons and US Dollars are widely accepted.
- Pop’s is some of the yummiest ice-cream I had in Costa Rica. Donde Pipe was a well priced and delicious cafe.
My 2nd day in Costa Rica!