I have obtained my TEFL certification and I am out searching for a job. That is only slightly accurate. I am first looking for a town on the coast that I want to call home for six months to a year and then I will look for a job. The problem is, or maybe it’s not really a problem at all, I loved the first place I went to best, Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean. On the Pacific, this past week I have been to Quepos, Manuel Antonio, Montezuma, Santa Teresa and Sámara. None of them toot my horn like Puerto Viejo does. None of them have that Caribbean charm that is clearly only on the Caribbean side. In the past two weeks of traveling around the coast of Costa Rica, I wonder if I might be searching for something that I already found the first weekend I was here when I went to Puerto Viejo during the TEFL course. I went back a second time for a week after the course but I purposely didn’t look for a job. I felt like I couldn’t settle for the first beach town I had been to. I needed to see others on the Pacific first. (Unfortunately I have no photos from Puerto Viejo as my camera wasn’t working at the time and I did nothing to fix it and miraculously now it’s working again…)
Basically the first thing I do in each new town is check out the beach. Can I live in this town and hang out at this beach every day? This is a huge factor in where I will chose to live. A new German friend I met in Quepos asked me what I like to do for activities on the beach, for example, surfing. I told him I could spend an entire day at the beach reading and swimming and that is a day very well spent for me. He said, “ahhh, so your sport is Extreme Beaching!” So, yes, extreme beaching, I’m very good at it, but I am very particular about the beach, it needs to have a certain ambiance and the more I think about it the more I think the ambiance is the Caribbean flair. I have the problem in that I compare every beach here to Tulum and Puerto Viejo. There is something about the Caribbean that is so different from the Pacific. Call me pagan, but the energy is different there. Maybe it’s because Tulum was the beginning so it will always be dear in my heart and then Puerto Viejo was the first beach town I saw in Costa Rica. My friend, Alison, calls this “first beach town love.” The stubborn woman in me wouldn’t let me settle for Puerto Viejo right off the bat though, I needed to experience the Pacific side of Costa Rica before making any decisions.
I’m in Sámara right now. It’s a lovely little beach town and I’m not joking when I say little. The guy running the hostel that I’m staying at, he’s from Pittsburgh, PA, so I immediately felt a kinship since it’s only 6 hours away from Rochester. Anyhow, he told me it will take about 15 minutes to walk the perimeter of the town. I gave it go and he was right. I’ve been here two days and I already recognize faces. Namely, the face of a local who, out of the kindness of his own heart, I’m sure, tried to help me out with finding accommodation the afternoon I got here. He was selling his cheap touristy crap when I walked by laden down with my life on my back, and he said, “Girl, there’s a hostel back there, if you are looking!” I told him, no thanks and that I was looking for a different place. The first place I looked at was too expensive so when I backtracked and walked past this local again he said, “Come on, I’ll show you this hostel here.” I said sure and we walked up the road to a “hostel” which was really just a shit motel with dark, dingy and depressing rooms. I’m looking for a hostel, man, with dorm rooms, not a place with single rooms that looks like something out of a Hitchcock film. “Oh, well you won’t find anything like that here, this is the cheapest place in town and there aren’t any hostels here.” He must have taken me for an idiot and not a seasoned traveler. I knew there were hostels in this town, it’s a touristy beach town for godsakes! I told him I was going to keep looking. I constantly get annoyed when townies try to swindle me, but I’m sure it works some of the time. All I needed to do was walk about two more blocks and I happened upon a lovely little hostel called Hostel Matilori.
I wonder if one of the reasons that guy tried to pull the wool over my eyes was because I was looking rather haggard at that point in the afternoon. I had been up since 5 AM and hadn’t slept much the night before (whenever I have to get up early for travel I stress the night before and wake up every hour thinking I have overslept). I had basically spent 10 hours in transit, on a bus, on a ferry, at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere, on another bus, then another bus stop in the middle of nowhere, then another bus, then finally my destination. I had come from Santa Teresa with the strangest thing occurring that morning that has ever happened to me in a hostel.
I had packed up my bags the night before and had just left my shorts and tank top out to wear that following day. Early in the AM, when I went to change out of my pajamas I was a bit perplexed as my tank top was missing, as was my hat that had been stashed at the top of my backpack and also my bra. I looked around on the floor, under the bed, scratching my head. I dug into my backpack a little bit and then started to think, did someone steal my stuff? And why the hell would they do that? I flipped the blankets on my bed and searched around the room surveying other travelers piles of clothing and whatnot. I finally turned around and looked at a guy sleeping on the bottom bunk on the other side of the room. There, nestled under his neck was my tank top, next to his head was my bra and in his hand was my hat. What the fuck? I stood there blinking, amazed, wondering why. He was the only guy I hadn’t met in the dorm room. And I had been told by another guy in the room that this fellow was a bit strange and was here with his parents in an apartment that you could also rent at this establishment but that he would come into this dorm room and sleep at night. He looked to be about my age, maybe a little younger. I walked over and tentatively took my stuff, trying not to wake him up. He stirred a little and opened his eyes, “I don’t know you, but you have my clothes and that’s really weird.” I’m not sure he registered anything as he just shifted positions and fell back asleep. I laughed about this for awhile with the Canadian fellow who was also taking the bus that morning. We couldn’t really come up with a good scenario as to why he would do this. I’m just thankful it was only my clothes and nothing more serious.
But back to Hostel Matilori, it’s little wonderful little haven, quiet and peaceful with a few hammocks for extreme resting after a day of extreme beaching. There’s even a german shepherd here named Bulma that I actually like. If you know me well, you know that the dogs I like are few and far between. But this lady is regal and doesn’t need my constant attention and moreover, she doesn’t stare at me when I eat. I like her for that alone. The rooms here have wooden ceilings lending it that beach-y feel. They are spacious and the beds are comfortable. Most notably, the mosquitos aren’t that bad here.
´When I was in Montezuma, a funky little hippie town, that is literally only one block between the jungle and the ocean, I stayed in a little hostel up the hill from the center of town. It was also great, however, the mosquitos loved me there. It was like I was famous for my tasty blood and they were the paparazzi. No one else had issues at night with them like I did and I wondered if there was literally a nest in my mattress. The pesty sonsofbitches buzzing that high pitch buzz in my ear all night long. The frustration and the scratching kept me up all hours. But the great thing about that hostel was that it was situated on a little hill, perched just off the road in the jungle and you could hear the ocean below and every morning you could hear the howler monkeys in the trees. I also was fortunate enough to have this same experience when I was in Puerto Viejo (the monkeys, not the mosquitos). Howler monkeys are small but the sound that bellows from their guts makes you think there is a family of gorillas camping nearby. And they will go on for hours in the morning. (With the wonders of National Geographic and youtube
you also can hear what I hear.) Being a person who never grew up with monkeys nearby, this is a novelty that has not worn off. I mean, I can hear monkeys in the trees and then I can see them swinging and jumping from branch to branch! And the immature girl in me can’t stop laughing at the male monkey’s balls just dangling about like oversized grapes. Here in Sámara I haven’t been searanaded by the howler monkeys but I have seen them in the trees lounging.
In the next few days I will have to make a decision here as to where to settle down for a bit and find a job. It’s a toss up between here, where there is actually a language school (they aren’t hiring at the moment however) or returning to Puerto Viejo where there is no language school so I will have to get inventive with perhaps private lessons or teaching online. I’m beginning to realize the west side of the Americas does not do it for me like the east side. Maybe it’s because I grew up going to Maine every summer, maybe it’s because Tulum showed me how to be happy, maybe it’s because Puerto Viejo is a special little place that is not comparable to any town on the Pacific. I do a lot of sitting at the beach and thinking. The constant sound of waves breaking over and over again soothes the stress of where the heck I should live, what the heck I should do with my near future, when will I find a place that I’m satisfied with, what is my path now? All those questions that you can only answer by choosing a path and doing it. I feel like I’m getting close to a decision but I think I need just a few more days of Sámara sun and sand to cement a decision. I’ll let you know when I know!
PS- I wrote all of this the other day and have made a decision! I am heading back to Puerto Viejo in the next few days to start the job search there. I just love the Caribbean and the Pacific is great but doesn’t do it for me like the other side of Costa Rica does.