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Good and bad about 3 months in the jungle in Costa Rica

If you were following me, you know I spent 4 and a half months in Panama and Costa Rica, out of which maybe 3 months were on the beach close to the jungle in Costa Rica. To be precise, I enjoyed to maximum 6 weeks of volunteering at Blue Osa on the Pacific coast and then another 6 weeks in Puerto Viejo – Manzanillo area on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.
There’s million things I couldn’t stand when living in the jungle/beach, but for sure even more reasons why I LOVED it there …
Now, after spending 3 weeks in Slovakia, which means no beach, and no rainforest jungle (not counting some weird human habits as a sort of jungle right now!), I am slowly realizing all the differences between these 2 places that are both dear to my heart.
I consider myself a very adaptable person and usually just need a day or two to completely merge with the environment. However, when thinking of my 3 months in the jungle in Costa Rica there were still a few things I did not enjoy that much and could easily go without them.

How was it to live in the jungle in Costa Rica?

 

So here’ my take on it.

 

Bad things:

  • mosquitoes all around
  • having to carry a flash light each time I stepped out of the bed at night to go to the bathroom
  • getting dark around 6 pm which was very uncommon to me and we could never walk without a flashlight, not even leave our place without one/smartphone in the afternoon as on the way back we needed it
  • peeing with cockroaches in front of my face
  • never sleeping without a mosquito net around my bed
  • at least 5 different kinds of ants were living around us
  • bugs flying right into your face when close to light bulbs
  • howler monkeys waking me up at 4 or 5 am (Haven’t you noticed I am NOT a morning person?! How rude of you!)
  • humidity making everything simply worse. Your clothes never dry up, you feel like you need a shower straight after taking one. The best would be to stay in the shower 24/7 but who has time for that? Not even a travel blogger :D
  • sweating 24/7
  • smell of marijuana all around – you might find it surprising (or maybe not) but I’ve never been a fan of it, never smoked it in my life and just the strong smell makes me sick
  • having at least 10 different types of bites all around the body and as soon as some of them are finally gone, you scratch yourself just to find new bites. Thank you for your attention, bugs!

 

insect bites and scratches jungle in Costa Rica

insect bites and scratches

 

  • 3 to 10 cm big grasshoppers of different colours, the black and red ones hold pretty strong to your skin and clothes when they jump on you which is not  a pleasant feeling
  • always being covered with bites, sand, salt and sweat at the same time which made me feel a sort of dirty
  • having a messy hair – for some reasons it just never looked nice
  • doing yoga with gecko shit falling on my mat and then stepping into it or touching it with my hands, NOT fun!
  • chocolate massages at Samasati, Blue Osa Spa and Cariblue

 

chocolate massage Cariblue jungle in Costa Rica

chocolate massage Cariblue jungle in Costa Rica

 

  • falling asleep to geckos making a sort of laughing noise
  • never taking showers alone – thank you, geckos and spiders, for keeping me company!
  • Caribbean beaches of Costa Rica are stunning, don’t get me wrong, but I always had tons of sand in my hair no matter how many showers I took
  • not eating 100% raw vegan, but at least some 80% raw – I admit it’s way more than most people do but I could feel the difference when it came to energy levels, sleep, glowing skin, no belly fat etc. I blame all the organic chocolate, brownies, plantains and rice and beans.

Good things:

  • barefoot more than 80% – basically I only wore shoes at night time as you never know what you can step on, and also to enter the stores and restaurants and very deep parts of the jungle (such as when I went hiking to a waterfall from Samasati), otherwise always barefoot. Most of the time I even left the house/bungalow/hotel with no shoes. Walking barefoot is extremely healthy, it connects you to nature, grounds you and the negative ions of the Earth stabilize you and balance your body. And trust me, I could feel it.
  • enjoying stepping into the mud on the paths – no one cared in the jungle/beach if your feet were dirty

 

walking barefoot in the jungle in Costa Rica

walking barefoot in the jungle

 

  • bunch of different lizards always crossing the street/path in front of me which made me stop, breathe and admire them (I love lizards and don’t understand how some people can dislike them)
  • random beautiful butterflies flying around me always when I least expected it – the beauty is all around us, just open your eyes :)
  • eating organic chocolate every day – such as the one from Caribeans on Cocles beach, Puerto Viejo (no milk, no artificial flavors, no chemical sugar, basically nothing bad to your health)
  • fresh coconut water as much as I could – it is the best drink for me
  • organic meals – yes, you hear me, I am against GMO, and companies like Monsanto. I enjoyed the most visiting Puerto Pirata Deli in Puerto Viejo where the fresh organic meal combinations are based on Ayurveda :)

 

Puerto Pirata Deli Puerto Viejo jungle in Costa Rica

Puerto Pirata Deli in Puerto Viejo

 

  • a lot of Afro-Caribbean people – I truly enjoy their culture
  • surrounded by a lot of rasta men – I would not say I am the biggest fan of the rasta hair but all those guys are pretty chilled, thumbs up
  • Spanish and English language – could it get even better?
  • buying fruit and veggies from street sellers coming straight from their farms. My favorite one was Jorge on the Cocles beach :)

 

jungle in Costa Rica (3)

Jorge selling fruit on the Cocles beach

 

  • cold showers (in 4 months and 10 days I had only 5 hot showers, the rest were cold. In many places they didn’t even have hot water and where they did, I so got used to cold water already that in mostly warm weather, I didn’t need hot shower any more) – I guess it was good for boosting my immune system
  • unforgettable sunrises at Blue Osa and sunsets on the Caribbean beaches of Costa Rica
  • full moon above the palms on the beach

 

sunset in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

sunset in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

full moon in Puerto Viejo

full moon in Puerto Viejo

sunrise at Blue Osa jungle in Costa Rica

sunrise at Blue Osa

 

  • using a sarong for everything – from a towel, to a dress, a skirt and something to lie down on on the beach … so easy and useful. I didn’t have to spend much time thinking what to wear as I could almost always wear a sarong. It saved me a few minutes per day :D
  • not using a comb at all – I don’t travel with a comb and in the jungle it was completely unnecessary anyway as most of the time my hair was up
  • being able to recognize which bird was the one making the noise kept making me happy every day

 

Great Kiskadee bird in the jungle in Costa Rica

Great Kiskadee bird in the jungle in Costa Rica

 

 

  • waking up to jungle noises – the first few days it could get pretty annoying if I wanted to sleep in the morning but just because the wildlife was up, everyone had to wake up too. But then I learned to even love it.
  • always looking up at the trees – we tend to forget to look up at the sky, the trees, the animals living up there so I learned to stop and take a while to do so every day
  • spending time with Indigenous people was the most eye-opening experience ever, I visited for example Bribri in Talamanca

 

a Bribri girl in Talamanca

a Bribri girl in Talamanca

 

 

  • learning about plants and their medicinal use – no, we really do NOT need to go to pharmacy to heal ourselves; the nature has it all for us!
  • drinking home-made Ahau kombucha – great for digestion
  • not using make-up – I didn’t use make-up on my face at all for the entire 3 months, all natural.
  • no nail polish
  • using the same dress for all the occasions possible was such a liberating feeling.
  • incredibly huge leaves and many heart-shaped leaves always put a smile on my face

 

huge heart-shaped leaves in jungle in Costa Rica

huge heart-shaped leaves in jungle in Costa Rica

heart-shaped leaves in jungle in Costa Rica

heart-shaped leaves in jungle in Costa Rica

 

 

 

 

  • not using any perfume for more than 80% of the time (the rest I used just natural essential oils put on coconut oil on my skin/clothes)
  • using the same oil to repel the mosquitoes and attract men, isn’t that cool? :D
  • sleeping mostly naked or in very light clothes
  • using beach sand as the best body peeling – no need to go far …
  • using organic cosmetics made in the area of visiting
  • fresh coconut oil used for everything? hell yeah!
  • eating wild plants I had not even heard of until then. I could just go to the garden, pick some and make a green smoothie of them, cheap, healthy and yummy!
  • being the most grateful for having a blender at some accommodations
  • being crazy about organic home-made chocolate brownies – hm should I put this point under the bad things as I put on weight because of the brownies?!
  • singing loud all the time almost anywhere – jungle, beach – you won’t do that in a city
  • putting used toilet paper into the trash bin and not into the toilet bowl – seemed gross in the beginning but at least we were not clogging the nature with the toilet paper
  • not caring about the clothes, they could be dirty or not match at all and no one cared
  • shaving every 2 days was not necessary, even though more comfortable – I saw many women not shaving their legs/armpits in the jungle at all
  • I learn to take showers in the nature when standing in the dirt and letting mosquitoes suck my fresh blood when trying to get rid of the sand in my butt
  • going with the flow and not planning much was less stressful
  • allowing myself to be lazy, to relax, slow down – I needed it
  • reading in a hammock or just swinging
  • having no plans at all for the whole day was sometimes the best thing ever
  • living in the now, enjoying every single moment, every single detail, every breeze, every star, every animal, every plant, every smile …
  • getting energy from the nature and becoming part of it
living in the jungle in Costa Rica

living in the jungle in Costa Rica

Dealing with #jungleproblems was not always easy. In fact, sometimes I felt I couldn’t handle it any more, especially all the insects, bites, humidity and feeling kind of dirty, and far from sexy all the time.
But living in the jungle in Costa Rica taught me more than I could ever learn in a city.
It’s always the challenging moments that teach us the most, right?
I learned about myself, my habits, nature, animals, what matters and what is not important.
I learned that the most important thing is living in the moment and being grateful for everything. Even for every single bite covering your once beautiful skin.
Let me just tell you, going back to the civilization where I had to wear shoes, dress nicely and behave like a serious adult again instead of a child stopping everywhere to play with everything and admire everything, was a big shock to me…

13 Comments

  1. Wow! The more I read about Costa Rica the more I want to go, it’s incredibly beautiful and I love its wild animal life too.

  2. You summed it all up very well :) More pros than cons for sure in Costa Rica! Enjoy your stay ;)

  3. Haha I feel you about the hair and the humidity but cannot really do much about it :D There’s more positive things into it anyway ;)

  4. An oil that repels mosquitoes AND attracts men? I’m impressed! I seem to be extra delicious to bugs.. they bit me no matter what I do, but all of the oils I try my boyfriend doesn’t like at all! Such a shame.

    I would LOVE to spend some time in the jungle.. no makeup, lots of coconut oil, falling asleep to the geckos churping – other than all the insects sounds like heaven to me!
    Anna recently posted..Dreaming of Living in Auckland?

  5. I loved Costa Rica a few years ago and I’m heading that way again in a couple of months. I agree it can get a bit muggy and you have to get used to living with the basics, but nothing parallels the scenery, wildlife, adventure and latino men!
    Arianwen recently posted..Win a NOVICA Gift Card Worth $75

  6. Oooh! Love this post! I live in the tropics (although not in a jungle), so I can relate to most of the good and the bad things. My hair hasn’t looked good in 1.5 years! (damn you, humidity!) But the lifestyle and the beauty of the nature is so worth it! ;)
    Osha Key recently posted..How I Screwed Up Giving Advice On Weight Loss

  7. awesome journey…….. i always love to be in beach but had not got chance to be……how about having adventurous travel, please visit to Guest House in Nepal for unbeatable Nepalese hospitality service in Nepal “the country of 8 highest peak” .

  8. Comment@ Izy Berry – The Wrong Way Home:
    My hair does look like a nest too but who cares in the jungle? :D If you can, do visit Costa Rica, it’s so worth it :)

  9. This post was a great break down of the good and bad! We’ll be heading to Panama sometime towards the end of the year so would love to visit Costa Rica too – I’m glad I know what to expect now hahhaa.

    Also, if I didn’t comb or brush my hair it would turn into a bird’s nest. You are lucky!!
    Izy Berry – The Wrong Way Home recently posted..The Biggest Lesson Travel’s Taught Me

  10. Comment@ Michele Kohan:
    Michele, well, I can only imagine how different your experience was with the kids :) Puerto Viejo is incredibly awesome so I hope we both go back asap :)
    Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler recently posted..Puerto Jimenez Osa Peninsula sunrise from Blue Osa

  11. Stunning sunsets, and I hear you on the purple clouds of marijuana … just not into it so much, and people are dumbfounded as to why when I mention it…
    David recently posted..Holy Attractions in Vatican City

  12. Great blog! Your pro/con list on living in Puerto Viejo was so close to my own. I lived there for three months in 2005 but my experience was a little different as I had my two young kids with me then. I stilll dream of going back full-time once I am retired. There is nothing better than connecting with nature and I too lobed the eclectic mix of cultures in. Puerto Viejo.

  13. What a great experience. I really enjoyed reading both the pros and cons- I think Vid and I would really enjoy being in such an untamed environment as well.
    PS I never carry a comb while travelling too ;-)
    Savi of Bruised Passports recently posted..La Gruyere – The Perfect Day Trip from Geneva

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