So, our new way of traveling started the moment we arrived to Costa Rica. We arrived to San José, the capital, late at night and already the next morning at 9am we met a very cool Spanish Couple, Raquel and Mikel, who travelled for 8 months in the van that we will call home in the next 4-5. They started their trip in Canada and finished it in Costa Rica: now we’re travelling the opposite way bringing the van up north all the way to Mexico, and who knows… maybe someone will drive it back to its motherland again. So, how do a Brazilian and Bosnian acquire Canadian van from Spanish couple in Costa Rica? I know, it sounded crazy to us too but it was pretty easy and straightforward.
The first time ever we thought of travelling in a van was at the very beginning of our trip, as soon as we landed in Brazil. We somehow gave up the idea along the way, probably because we were a little afraid of how all that could happen since we never really travelled in a van before. But somehow, the idea of having a house on four wheels started to shape again in our minds already in Uruguay when we met a couple who told us about their adventures of travelling the PanAmerican in the van. It’s the first time we heard about the ioverlander app (great and essential tool for any van traveler in Central and South America) and how easy it was to actually travel this way. I don’t know about easy but it is exciting and convenient, that I do know now. Further on, travelling in a car through Central America made us realize how much we loved the freedom the car gave us: we could stop when and wherever we wanted, and we didn’t need to make loads of plans in advance. Sure enough, once we got back to Brazil and left Cabron, we knew we wanted to have that freedom again also in Central America. That’s when our little home on 4 wheels, became a reality. Ladies and gents… meet Rusty:
Voilà, we call it Rusty for obvious reasons. We closed the deal with Raquel and Mikel before ever seeing the van and they were really helpful arranging necessary meetings for the van documents. The process with documents was pretty much straightforward, and civil servants in Costa Rica very nice and professional. There were a few minor setbacks that made us stay in San José way longer than we wanted to but all in all… it was a painless and pretty quick process. And so, Rusty took us to many wonderful places…
San José is a very unimpressive city and big cities, especially capital cities in Central America, are not our cup of tea so we try to avoid them altogether. We did see some nice street art and had some very nice food at the San José Market but other than that… we slept in a parking lot and didn’t find this city interesting. Moreover, it is rain season in Costa Rica, and our days in San José were mostly rainy so we were not really into trying to explore further.
What we were really looking forward to was exploring Costa Rica’s nature and discovering the magic of “pura vida” you hear so much about in this country. We found a really nice place up in the hills where we could completely empty, clean and arrange our van. We went to see the beautiful Poás Volcano (it’s an active volcano that erupted last time in 2017), and then headed for the beach for some sun.
Our beach life and sunny mornings, waking up to the sound of waves, had started. The first official camping we stoped at was 50m from the beach, mangoes and avocados were literarily falling off of the trees next to us and we had some very nice visits by monkeys and beautiful birds. We were slowly learning how is it to live in a van. Now, Rusty is not a fancy camper-van with solar panels, AC, toilet or shower. None of that. It does have a huge bed, a cooler, equipped kitchenette, portable fans, loads of charm and well… that’s all we really needed for 4 months. The most precious of all is waking up to the views like these, over and over again:
Pura vida it is, we got it. We drove along the Pacific coast of CR for about two weeks, stoping on the beaches, sipping coconut water, doing yoga, eating great food (casados mmmhhhmmm), amazing fruit, cooking food, enjoying the simplicity and feeling free and happy.
Somewhere in between, a huge storm (later named Cyclone Bonnie) was brewing on the other side of the country and heading towards the region we were at. That’s when we met Carlos, one of the kindest people we have ever met in life. He not only gave us a very useful information about the cyclone but took us in, gave us his cabaña and amazing coffee produced at his finca and all he wanted in exchange was absolutely nothing. He just wanted to help and wanted more people to visit Costa Rica knowing that good people live there. Oh boy, some ABSOLUTELY GOOD people live in CR and we were really happy and lucky to have met them. We can never thank Carlos enough for his kindness and friendship; people like him are a loving and living reminder of why we all travel, and of what is the biggest value of seeing the world. It is not only about discovering beautiful places and taking instagrammable pictures; in the essence it’s really these human exchanges that teach us what in the world is the most beautiful – our connection to other people. It is so heart warming to be reminded again and again that strangers can become your best friends in a minute; that we are all so similar, that we want, dream of and hope for the same things. Gracias, Carlos!
In this trip, I found and re-connected with my soul sisters and brothers; people that felt so familiar after knowing them for less than an hour; people that taught me so much about life and myself. I will forever be grateful and I know that because of them, I am a better person. Ohh, I am getting sentimental and starting to miss LOADS all those beautiful souls. It’s time for a coffee break.
Speaking of which… we cannot get enough of the amazing coffee we bought at Carlos’s finca (If you want to try it yourself, it’s called BATSU – you can order it and have it shipped to your home. This is unsponsored content, we just really do love this coffee). The finca itself is gorgeous, it was the best spot to sit the storm out.
Surrounded by coffee plantations and incredible nature, we listened to the rain pass, relaxed, recharged, happy to have made another friend in the world. Luckily, Bonnie did not do too much damage in CR but because of it some roads were closed so we had to tweak our travel plans and we went to the beach again. After the storm, the weather got much better and it barely rained for weeks. We could go back to beach life and enjoy cooking simple but good food, play cards and most beautiful of all, see this almost every night:
Our last few days in CR gave us the most gorgeous beaches. One of them was apparently proclaimed the most beautiful beach in the world but the one we found later, Playa Rajadita, was our absolutely favourite one ever. So many times we were alone and had the beach, the waves and the sunsets just to ourselves. We woke up so many mornings with the sound of waves crushing against the shore and little birds singing around us. It felt like parraa paaarraaa paradise 🙂
So, that was it. We were officially in love with Costa Rica, and with travelling in our van so much so that we want to buy one once we’re back to Lux.
It’s not all rainbows and butterflies though: there were tough days too. There were days when the rain just wouldn’t stop – we were just constantly wet, improvised a shelter to be able to cook something and washed dishes in the rain (Jorge had a great little dance while doing it too). There were days when it was so hot that we couldn’t sleep – we were just tired and a little grumpy the day after and sometimes checked into a cheap hostel to recover. There was a time we got stuck in mud – we asked locals to push us out and found the most amazing place to camp after that. There were moments of toilet emergencies- nature is your friend. There were and there are tons of freaking mosquitos – we made it into a game to kill them before sleeping and choke in repellent smell. But none of this diminished the beauty of waking up early surrounded by beautiful nature and not knowing where you will actually wake up the day after. Pura vida.