I knew I liked Costa Rica as soon as I stepped off the plane. The feel of the air was different – warm, soft, relaxed… I felt at ease. I’ve been here less than 48 hours, and nothing has changed my mind yet.

Here’s Ellen on the bus in San Jose on Tuesday morning.

Yesterday we took the bus from San Jose to Puerto Viejo, and I spent the journey gawking out the window at the greenery. Vancouver island is a rainforest, and we have pretty awesome trees, but Costa Rica is something else altogether. The jungle here blurs the definitions of shrubs and trees. Thousands of stalks of bamboo all in a huge clump – not really a tree, but so much more than a bush. Sugar cane and grasses, ten or twelve or even twenty feet tall – it’s amazing! And that’s just what I saw on the side of the highway from a moving bus. I can’t wait to get out and explore the jungle close up.

I couldn’t get a decent shot of the tall grasses, trees, and vines on the side of the road, but the view here was nice.

One thing that struck me was that everything here is for sale. Back home, you see homes and businesses for sale everywhere, and here in Costa Rica it’s no different. Half the houses and properties have “se vende” out front – it seems like the economy is hitting everyone hard all over the world. On a positive note, if you want to buy a beachfront lot here, opportunities abound!

There was an abandoned barge not far from town, where some vultures found a stingray washed up on the beach.

Puerto Viejo is a beautiful but very tourist-oriented town on the Caribbean coast. It’s probably a good place for my first stop in Costa Rica because I can ease into the Spanish – most businesses here cater to tourists. It’s also ridiculously expensive compared to what other towns would cost – Ellen and I are not really doing any of the activities because we’re sure they’re cheaper elsewhere. Right now we’re doing a whole lot of nothing – swimming, chatting with other travellers, wandering the town, and generally aligning ourselves with the pace of life in a Latin American town. Tomorrow I might get up early and paint a picture of the sun rising over the water. Unless I don’t, in which case there will be another sunrise for me to paint another day.

This is the beach I’ve been dreaming of – here at last!