It’s been just about three weeks since Ellen and I got to Costa Rica, and I’d like to amend my opinion of Puerto Viejo, as described here and countered by Ellen here. I’ve come to the conclusion that although I wasn’t convinced at the time, Puerto Viejo was the right place to start our trip.

Ellen and I knew before we began our trip that we wanted to volunteer on farms in Costa Rica. We had agreed from the start that we’d get a feel for the country and make our money last longer by staying with farming families rather than living as tourists. Now that we’re doing exactly that, I’m grateful that we took two weeks at the start of the trip to relax and see friends rather than jumping straight into it.

Whenever I go to a country in which the main language isn’t English, I find myself exhausted at first, trying to understand. Even though I want to live life to the fullest, I need to sleep in late and head to bed early until I adapt to the effort of operating in a foreign country. I really appreciate Ellen’s suggestion to spend a week in Puerto Viejo doing exactly that – napping in hammocks, waking up late, crashing by 9pm… It helped me throw off the frustration I was dealing with in Canada and get accustomed to life in Costa Rica. The volunteer work we’re doing isn’t that strenuous, but it might have been a lot to deal with on day one.


Ellen learns how to make drinking glasses from old bottles.

Another reason I’m glad we started in Puerto Viejo is the climate here. If we had gone directly to the farm rather than the beach, Ellen and I would have struggled to adapt to the heat of the jungle. I’m not doing anything particularly physical because of my wrist, but adjusting to the hot sun and humidity while being more actively occupied all day would have been an unpleasant struggle.


Ellen cutting sugarcane to make agua dulce

I still don’t feel any need to go back to Puerto Viejo, but I acknowledge it was the right place to go at the time and I’d be willing to spend a few days there if our journey takes us there again. I won’t necessarily recommend it to anyone, but I won’t automatically bad-mouth it when people ask me about it. If you’re looking for surfing, organized adventure tours, and an English-language bar scene, head on over to Puerto Viejo and check it out. You might find you like it after all.


Pretty much anywhere you go in Costa Rica gets you sunsets like this one.