Alex and Olivia Explore Puerto Viejo

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I can't believe it finally happened! Alex has joined me on the road to nowhere after moving on from his job to pursue his dream of travel. 

I remember the first night we met like it was yesterday. Over a year ago, Alex and I connected after a brief encounter at a George School happy hour. The group was ready to go to the next bar that night, and I had way too many layers of sweaters to put back on, so I encouraged them to go ahead. Once done, I went downstairs and bumped into Alex; we decided to walk to the next bar together.

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(Note: he later confessed it was all a part of his plan to stay behind and wait for me...)

Alex spent the entire walk enthusiastically listening to me blab on about my experience recently being stranded in Costa Rica and having to find relief in Nicaragua. He eyes lit up at the mere mention of Latin American travel and I later learned that he'd recently toured Eastern Europe for six weeks and was disappointed he never had the chance to see Latin America. Little did I know, that conversation would not only spark a genuine love interest, but a shared desired for international exploration.

Now, here we are. One year later and setting off in pursuit of bucket list dreams. Our first stop: Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.

This Caribbean twist of Tico life I've become so fond of was the perfect location to start our adventure. We are both familiar with the immigration/customs process and I know the bus system out of San Jose like the back of my hand by now -- at least I thought.

We arrived at the San Jose airport and boarded the bus into the city. I remembered that part well. But upon arrival at the Tuasa station in Coca Cola, I felt a moment of uneasiness. Why did I become nervous? I have no idea. I've done the walk. I've done the transfer to the next station. But all of a sudden I had this guy with me whose family would like him to come home safe and sound. I suddenly felt as if the world was on my shoulders and if - God, forbid - anything happened to him, I would be blamed! Well, I wouldn't actually be blamed. But I felt responsible for his well being.

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I've become this independent traveler, partially reliant on my brown skin, last name, and accent to get me what I need and where I need to go in Latin America. Now I am with the US American poster child whose best Spanish sentence is "Hola, yo soy una hombre". So cute. But a completely new experience. Alex, on the other hand, is ready and eager to experience it all. Good or bad! He's always the trooper.

Lost in San Jose.

Lost in San Jose.

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So I followed his lead and allowed a few cops to direct us to the "correct" station, instead of listening to my gut. They insisted their directions to the bus station were correct. Okay, I guess since they are the locals I should listen. Bad idea. We ended up walking 30-40 minutes to the wrong bus stop, only to arrive at the boletería and have the women direct us back to where we started and beyond. So frustrating!

We didn't have time to walk back. The last bus to Puerto Viejo was at 2:30 pm and it was almost 2 pm. So we took a taxi to the correct station (I was right!) and ran to the ticket booth, hoping the bus wasn't sold out. We made it safely with 15 minutes to spare before departure, and a five-hour bus ride awaiting us.

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The bus ride was bumpy yet relaxing. Translation: I was knocked out the whole way and awoke when the florescent interior lights turned on and beamed directly over my eyelids. The hotel client I booked was only a few blocks away from our arrival point so we walked through our new neighborhood that night, eventually greeted by the beautiful Casa Verde Lodge and our own cabina and hamaca!

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For 5 days we ate, slept, drank, tanned, explored, ate, slept, drank, tanned, and explored over and over again. Here were some of our favorites - mostly foods:

Hot Rocks was an outdoor bar that played reggae music videos from a projector and featured adult-sized swing sets.

Hot Rocks was an outdoor bar that played reggae music videos from a projector and featured adult-sized swing sets.

Our first meal included caribe seasoned fries and the juiciest ribs I've ever had.

Our first meal included caribe seasoned fries and the juiciest ribs I've ever had.

The Casa Verde Lodge has the most beautiful pool in Puerto Viejo.

The Casa Verde Lodge has the most beautiful pool in Puerto Viejo.

The Casa Verde Lodge has a sloth family!

The Casa Verde Lodge has a sloth family!

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Night walk in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Night walk in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Our friend Gioia bought us a camel pack! Jesus Christmas, what a lifesaver.

Our friend Gioia bought us a camel pack! Jesus Christmas, what a lifesaver.

Nema was our favorite day-time restaurant in Puerto Viejo, BY FAR. Pictured right to left: patacones y guacamole, ceviche, pollo caribe casada.

Nema was our favorite day-time restaurant in Puerto Viejo, BY FAR.
Pictured right to left: patacones y guacamole, ceviche, pollo caribe casada.

This restaurant is called Chili Rojo. It had an awesome balcony on the second floor, and a special burrito happy hour for 4mil CRC ($8)! The owner was the sweetest.

This restaurant is called Chili Rojo. It had an awesome balcony on the second floor, and a special burrito happy hour for 4mil CRC ($8)! The owner was the sweetest.

Drool worthy tacos from Madre Tierra. Best restaurant for dinner. The owner gave us shots, twice! And we stayed an hour after getting our check, just discussing human connection and life. Real rasta vibes! Jah was all up in that room.

Drool worthy tacos from Madre Tierra. Best restaurant for dinner. The owner gave us shots, twice! And we stayed an hour after getting our check, just discussing human connection and life. Real rasta vibes! Jah was all up in that room.

More eating. Pita Bonita was the heartiest meal we had there. 

More eating. Pita Bonita was the heartiest meal we had there. 

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So, apparently all we did was eat. Sue me.

The fun has just begun!