Back in Mal Pais, which is more off the beaten path (as far as Costa Rica is concerned) people wrinkled their noses when Kera and I told them we were going to Jacó for a few nights. "Watch your valuables", they told us. "Don't go out alone at night. Lots of people come from San Jose to steal from tourists there. It's the Las Vegas of Costa Rica. You might as well be in Miami." So we heard lots of good things about the place before we even left Mal Pais.
However, you never truly know unless you go, and we weren't about to change our travel plans based on some haphazard opinions. Plus, it made for a nice loop through the country, was on the way back to San Jose and my friend Marie who I met in Peru was meeting us there, so we ventured out. We took the jet boat from Montezuma to Jacó on a hot and glassy morning which was a fun and easy ride. It took about an hour to get across to the mainland, and you can't argue with door to door service.
Kera and I arrived in Jacó clutching out passports and watching our backs, but after walking down the Main Street we both had the same thought, "This place is cute!" Sure, kind of touristy, lots of kitsch shops all selling the exact same thing, bars and strip clubs, a few high rise hotels and casinos, but it reminded me of Rosarito or any other beach town that caters to tourists on a quick getaway from knee deep snow.
We checked into our hostel, Room2board - your classic backpacker's hostel - waterslide into the pool, happy hour from 5-7, drinking games at 8, pizza on Wednesdays and a host of activities to do during the day. Everybody was friendly, our room was clean and cheap, and it was right on the beach. The surf was small but easy and friendly, which lends itself to drinking beers poolside all day while the tide comes up and surfing glassy waves at sunset. I know, it's a tough life, but someone has to support the local economy.
We went out for Lady's Night that night (girls drink free) so you can imagine I was feeling fantastic for our 7am surf after three hours of sleep. A quick surf, a quick nap and then Marie showed up. Upon her arrival my hangover magically disappeared, so we spent the afternoon reminiscing about our time on the Inca Trail, drinking beers and going for an evening glass off surf session under an epic sunset. Like I said, Costa Rica is dreamy.
The next day we surfed in the morning before getting ready to head back to San Jose. I was a bit melancholy as leaving Jacó meant the end of an epic stint in Costa Rica, but the blow was softened by Marie hosting me and Kera at her flat for our last night. Kera made us a nice dinner and we enjoyed each other's company for the last night for a little while.
Costa Rica was great - surf eat drink sleep repeat - but it was absolutely the people that I met and spent time with that made it so special. There is something about meeting people from all over the world in an exotic location, sharing experiences and then making plans to do it again in the future that is so special.
And now off to Cancun where I will meet up some of the people that I love most in the world. My sister Caity organized a Schneider family reunion over a year ago, and the time has come for us all to spend a week together in the lap of luxury. Just when I was getting a little homesick, my family is coming to me. It's hard to express how grateful I am for everything.