After a wearisome three hour-long fight with Nicaraguan customs officials, I drove over the border into my new temporary-home-country for the first time in late October 2007.

The sun was high, the fields were manicured, and pre-fab buildings had replaced the Nicaraguan tumble-down houses that lined the Interamericana highway before the border.

Immediately it was clear that Costa Rica sets itself apart from its neighbours. Its rather un-Central american level of development, abundance of Western comforts and lack of civil war has drawn package tourists, ex-patriates and beach bums galore over the decades – a lucky circumstance for me, as it gave me a job straight out of University in the English news media.

So San José has become my home – Curridabat to be more precise – where I live in a magical realist house, with bananas growing in the garden, plants potted in coconut shells, a room the colour of sunlight and travelling furniture salesmen plying their wares up and down the streets.

And as I have learnt more about the country, its contradictions, its problems that more often than not it tries to hide, its beauty and its people, I have found the desire to share it all with you, esteemed backpackers. I will attempt to enhance what little time you might have travelling through this country with a bit of knowledge of what makes the nation tick – politics, culture, current affairs and opinions as well as the best destinations and hostels – all the way down to the most delicious chocolate brownie that Costa Rica has to offer you (it’s in Puerto Viejo, in a café called Bread and Chocolate).

In places my knowledge is so far non-existent or menial, so please bear with the blog as it develops with me. Suggestions, comments, helpful hints and funny anecdotes always welcome.

A note on spelling – I reserve the right to spell as the motherland dictates. I shall not be ousting my u’s or replacing my s’s with those vulgar z’s. If I ever had occasion other than this to write the word aluminium, that is how it would be spelt. We invented the language, and let’s face it, it was better before the Americans got their grubby mitts on it. No offense.


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