I’ll admit, I was nervous booking a hostel and a shuttle service from the airport in another country via email for my first time traveling to another country alone.
Right after I arrived in Costa Rica and went through customs, I still had butterflies as I searched for my driver among the crowd of taxi drivers holding signs for different hotels, resorts and hostels. But as soon as my driver greeted me, “April, hi, nice to meet you,” in a slow, relaxed tone, my nerves slightly sunk away. He said, “First time here and you picked Solo Bueno Hostel? You picked a good place. Only the crazy people go there.” (Sidenote: Sometimes I see him in town. He remembers my name and always greets me with a hug and kiss on the cheek.) He led me to a different driver who drove me all the way to my hostel.
Once I got in the shuttle, Marvin, the driver, handed me a map of Nosara and said, “Your first present in Costa Rica.” As we passed sugar cane fields and mango trees throughout Nosara, Marvin kept saying how beautiful everything in Costa Rica was and especially how beautiful Guanacaste was. “Guanacaste es que lindas,” Marvin would say and bring his fingers to his mouth to blow a kiss in the air.
Guanacaste is a province (similar to a state) located in the northwestern part of Costa Rica. Nicoya is a canton (similar to a county) in Guanacaste. Nosara is a city in Nicoya. Guiones is a beach town that’s part of Nosara. So Playa Guiones is in Nosara, which is in Nicoya, which is in Guanacaste. And that’s where I started my Costa Rican journey.
About 22 miles from Playa Guiones (pronounced ge-oh-nays) we turned down an unpaved rocky road that led to the town. All the street signs were covered in dust and there were no street lines painted on the streets. There were no street lights either.
I arrived at the hostel minutes before sunset. I walked right into the common room of the hostel. There wasn’t a front desk or sign-in area. Kimberly, the the woman-in-charge of the hostel spoke to me from the kitchen,
“These are the rules: No smoking tobacco in the house. I don’t care about pot. And we’re having a feast tonight.”
I jumped on Kimberly’s golf cart, and she drove us to the beach where we watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. When I woke up in the morning, Kimberly handed me a cup of the best coffee I’ve ever had. It came from her friend’s farm in the mountains. Everything still felt like a dream.
I’ve been in Guiones for 12 days now. As I walked around town on my first full day here, excitement ran through me as I giggled like a schoolgirl with a new crush. I still feel this giddiness when I look around me and realize that I’m living in Paradise. It’s like being at a music festival or Burning Man; it’s like falling in love.
As ticos, (nickname for Costa Ricans) would say, it’s Pura Vida, which translates to pure life, and means any variety of: this is living, all is good, life is amazing. Ticos often greet each other with this saying or slip it into casual conversation.
In Guiones I wake up when I hear the birds chatting or when the sun comes up. I spend the majority of my days outside. I spend each moment doing what it is I want to do at that moment. I take yoga classes everyday. I explore. I ride my rented bicycle. I walk through the jungle. I swim in the ocean. I drink fresh coconuts from the beach stand. The only time I follow time is to make sure I make the yoga class on time. Other than that there’s no need to. I eat when I’m hungry and go to sleep when I’m tired.
I’ve had some really incredible days here. I’ve met people, been in certain situations and had certain conversations that I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t alone. I’ve met people on the street just by smiling and waving. I’ve done things I wouldn’t have time to do at home. Each day I’m learning to quiet the voice in my head that wants to constantly be busy, that feels compelled to always be in motion. With each moment that passes I’ve been falling into a tranquilo state of doing what comes naturally and not worrying too much about anything else.