Costa Rica: San Jose > Jaco > Manual Antonio

Part 1 – San Jose, Costa Rica.

New trip. Central America. First stop… San Jose, Costa Rica.

Right off the plane the people were SUPER friendly. So friendly that the taxi driver walked me to the public bus station outside the airport to get downtown. The bus cost $1.

Then I spent 2 wonderful days in the city. Catching up from work, enjoying their city park, and checking out some modern art. The work had to be done – since the previous week was spent checking out NASA’s cape canaveral site; but, the real adventure started when I took my recorded (yes – the ones from elementary school) and practiced some scales in San Jose’s city park (the park  used to be a local airport). After about an hour of practicing scales I started improvising my own tunes. Over the next 3 months, this recorder would turn out to bring more grounding moment than expected – I’ll elobrate another time.

The next day, I visited the old control tower outside the city park that had been retrofitted into an art museum. A local modern artist was exhibiting futuristic distopic murals… this wasn’t something I expected to see, or a “must see” in San Jose, but these moments surprise me. It was a delightful cultural experience, and a wonderful way to start the trip.

Eventually, Kaleb arrived in San Jose at the grungy hostel I selected and we chatted the night away catching up on sooo sooo sooo much (the last time we had this much quality time was on our last South America adventures… 3 year ago). Needless the say – the next chapter of our journey was about to start.


Part 2 – Jaco, Costa Rica.

So the 2 amigos continue… to the ‘grimmy’ beach town, formally known as Jaco. Luckily we found a posh hostel (Selina) to crash at for the week while we surfed, worked, and watched the sunsets.

No joke this was our daily routine… Wake Up > Surf > Work > Sunset > Sleep –  (repeat)

I don’t remember looking at the time all week… In my mind, there were 3 times of day – surf o’clock, work o’clock, and sunset o’clock.

Life was blissful, eating local fruit, and spending quality time with an incredible amigo!

… one story worth elaborating on was the night Kaleb and I went to the local casino…

It was our first night in Jaco, and Kaleb really wanted to check out the scene. So off we went checking out bar after bar, until we found the local casino – 2 innocent happy-go-lucky amigos and a casino, what can go wrong.

.. or maybe what could go right – (as Kaleb would put it >> “I’mma right!?!”)

So I start to watch Kaleb gamble (I don’t gamble).

$30 on the table – blackjack >>> Hit.. hit… stay. $$

Hit… Stay. $$$

Stay. $$$$$

Hit… Hit. Stay. $$$$$$

It just didn’t stop $$$$$$$

Seriously, it didn’t stop. Within 20 minutes Kaleb was nearly bouncing off the walls as the casino staff strongly urged him to calm down – before the owner got involved.. meanwhile the dealers switched several times, and the winnings continue.

After about an hour, Kaleb had turned $30 into $300. Thrilled and high on adrenaline Kaleb and I left the casino to avoid any additional attention. The rest of our night was spent in high spirits.

It was until the next day, when I was chatting with Carl (a mutual friend and boss of ours), that the story turned from lucky… to EXTREMELY LUCKY.

Here’s why:

Years ago, Carl was at that same casino with a group of friends… One friend was winning a lot (like Kaleb)

As the group left the bar, a taxi insisted they catch a ride to another hot bar in Jaco. While this lively chatter happened beside the taxi, a local man lightly suggested that Carl’s friend should return to the hotel for the night.

…Later that night, Carl witnessed that local man getting brutally beaten, nealy to death.. The local had tipped off Carl’s friends to avoid the gangster’s cab, and suffered the consequences instead.

That could have been us, that’s why we’re extremely lucky!

Part 3: Manual Antonio, Costa Rica.

The minor group conflict started when another two friends had joined us for on journey – Connor and Dumiso.

I wanted to chicken-bus down from Jaco to Manual Antonio for $1/each. They wanted to Uber for $10/each.

We “Uber’ed” our way to another posh Selina hostel right on the gringo trail. It wasn’t my vibe, but I went with the group flow and enjoy the time we had together.

One day, we headed off to Manual Antonio National Park. This is where I saw a monkey for the first time in wild. The monkeys were playing, grooming, and just being…

This inevitably had me thinking… how similar they are to us – how much connection you feel when stare into their eyes – how magical it feels to share a moment with these distant cousins. My experience was primatively profound.

The day after observing the monkeys and wandering the maticulous beaches, the 4 of us rented surf boards at sunset. This was the only time all of us surfed together – it was definitely amateur hour, but regardless we had a blast.

Beyond this, everynight we spent time watching the sunset, chatting about work, connecting on life and the adventures that awaited.

Lessons Learnt:

  • Surf. Stay in flow.
  • Watch Sunsets. Appreciate spending time.
  • Repeat > Pura Vida.

Costa Rica, Hillside Village via bus

Manual Antonio Monkeys

Manual Antonio, Sunset

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