Papagayo, Costa Rica: Nothing I Expected.

The Road to Papagayo | Photo: Olivia Christine

I’ve grown attached to Costa Rica and cannot imagine going back to New York. I spent my last night in Santa Teresa on the beach, watching the warm sunset. The next morning Adaobi and I rode five hours to Papagayo. This time we sucked it up and paid money for a shuttle; 50 USD! We weren’t willing to risk being stranded again: relying on the only bus that supposedly goes to town, but not really.

And so two shuttles and a taxi ride later, we arrived in Bahía Panama, where I used every last bit of my Hilton Rewards points to book one night at their all-inclusive resort. The idea was: big beds, hot water, no mosquitoes, and unlimited food! I was beyond stoked.

The resort was everything I expected, but nothing at the same time. When I checked in, I spoke Spanish, and the front desk looked surprised. I then noticed all of the staff was speaking English and the guests were putting little effort in speaking Spanish.

My first English words were: “I feel like I’m in Florida”. We had our own private beach, yet no one was in the water. There was an abundance of American tourists and they were all crowded around the pool and bar.

I moved on to inspect the dining options. My excitement quickly faded when I noticed the guests filling their plates with burgers, french fries and pizza. Where was the comida tipica? How could we be in Costa Rica and not eat Costa Rican food? Perhaps I came at the wrong time. I’ll check back later.

Hilton Papagayo
Photos: Olivia Christine

The resort was so big that we had drivers to shuttle us around the grounds. I was stubborn and thought I could walk. And so I headed to my bungalow. And I walked. And walked. And walked some more. The hills were killer. But belabored breathing and all, I just wouldn’t be shuttled.

Yeah, that thought was short lived.

I definitely called the shuttle to pick me up when heading back to the restaurant that night. When my shuttle driver arrived, he knew my name. I guessed it was from my room. No, he said. He knew me from when I checked in. Adaobi and I were practically the only two guests (that we saw) speaking in Spanish to all the staff. They loved it. They loved that we were always requesting arroz con frijoles. They loved our adventure stories. They loved that we kept walking everywhere and getting lost.

Stoked to see fluffy beds.

She's more graceful than I.

Backseat treks.

I felt warmest when with the staff. And I think we were their favorite guests. Little did I know this relationship would be most crucial the next day, when a Northeast storm left us stranded in Costa Rica.