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Category Archives: Costa Rica

Hostel Pangea in San Jose, Costa Rica

ImageImageAs the taxi stopped and I looked up at what seemed to be a pile of tin marked “Hostel Pangea” I thought, “Oh, God, what have I got myself into?!”  My opinion changed, however, as soon as I opened the door.  I was immediately welcomed by bright colorful paintings covering every wall and a friendly staff greeting me excitingly.  “Hello, Ms. Pack,” they said, “How are you?  How was your trip?”   A nice, smiling man quickly and efficiently worked to find my reservation, give my keys, and answer any questions I had.  “If you need anything else,”  he said, “please let us know.”

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I continued to be impressed as I discovered my room and the rest of the facilities.  The rooms were very secure with key-card access only, and the beds and bath areas were very nice and clean.  Hostel Pangea at first seems small, but it didn’t take me long to find the many rooms and areas including a swimming pool, large bar, and many computers.  Not to mention, they had a great area for charging devices and a theater room as well!

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Possibly the best thing about Hostel Pangea is how secure it is.  My first night there, a friend from San Jose stayed with me, so we spent most of the night hanging out at the bar and exploring San Jose.  When we went out, we experienced no problems catching taxis or having taxis take us back.  ALL taxi drivers know about the hostel.  Additionally, when you come into the hostel, you’re immediately greeted by a friendly guard who checks your wrist band to make sure no strangers are coming into the facilities.  The staff takes many precautions to make sure guests feel safe, and the entire time I was there, I never felt that I or my belongings were ever in jeopardy.  Being a single traveler, this is of utmost importance.

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ImageI highly recommend Hostel Pangea to any traveler making a stop in San Jose.  The staff is great, the accommodations are exceptional, and, very importantly, it’s safe.  Hostel Pangea is definitely worth a night’s stay!

Prices:

Dorm Price – $13 ($1 + $5 for key and locker deposits)

Services:

Lockers for valuables

Free Wi-Fi and computer access

Free Tourist/Local Information Available

Bar/Restaurant- meals for about $6 US (the food is GREAT!)

Airport Shuttle – $11 (shared)

GETTING THERE/GETTING AROUND:

If you’re coming from the TicaBus station, take a taxi.  It should cost about 4,000 Colones ($8 US).

If you’re coming from the Juan Santamaría International Airport, take the TUASSA bus (450 colones or $1 US) and then a taxi (about 3,000 colones or $6 US for taxi to hostel).

If you decide to go out, you have many options available to you.  There are a variety of clubs and bars nearby depending on your taste/style.  No trip should cost you more than 3,000 colones ($6 US) or so.  To get a taxi, just go out to one of the main streets and hail one.  It’s cheaper than calling and super easy.

CONTACT INFO:

http://hostelpangea.com/

ONE LAST NOTE:

I really do have say this about the staff, they are amazing.  Sometimes (as I am sure you avid backpackers know) hostel workers may try to coerce you to get bigger rooms, or take more expensive taxis, or basically just spend more money at their hostel.  At Hostel Pangea, I never felt like the staff was trying to “just make a buck” off of me.  I really felt like that staff genuinely cared about people and they even offered me information on how to save money!  So awesome!

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We end where we began?

The beginning

Summing up La Aventura Project in one post has left us here staring at a blank page for weeks now.  The same questions run through our heads: “What did we do?” and, “What did we accomplish?”  The jump back into life in the USA was quick, and we were immediately left with little time outside of work, back to normal US life.  The world we came from was stuck in the backs of our minds, left to dwell in occasional yearnings and stories misunderstood by their listeners.  When I have a street food craving at 11pm there is no friendly woman selling tortillas across the street.  Saddening, but it’s also nice to have a kitchen.

Here is a quick list of answers to some of the more popular questions we have been getting from friends and family:
Yes, they did in fact have electricity in Latin America.
Yes, we got sick a few times from the food.  But it was all delicious and we don’t regret trying everything!
No, we did not notice any drug cartel activity.
No, we don’t plan on settling down now or buying a house or anything like that.

Trying to make a list of our accomplishments sounded corny but I did it anyways to brag a little bit:
Learned Spanish to an intermediate level in which we could have decent conversations.
Traveled to 10 countries without flying.
Got engaged!
Learned much more about Latin American history than we did at school, more than most North Americans know.
Hiked the Inca Trail.
Built our blog into a resource for other travelers.

Regrets:  I wish we could have done more volunteering, but maybe you could say that we were more like scouts, examining the playing field.  We did have two stays at WWOOF farms, one in Colombia and another in Ecuador.  It would be fun to check out some more WWOOF farms in Central America someday.

The travel at first was much easier than I expected.  The roads were paved and the buses as nice as the Megabus that we took in the United States.  But as we entered Bolivia our luck was about the change.  It was there that we experienced transportation strikes and washed out highways.  Bolivia was by far the most “out there” country we visited.

La Aventura Project started as a film project and a longing to escape from it all.  Along the way we wrote more and more and eventually were able to use the website to make the adventure last longer.  We passed through phases of preferring writing over filming and vis-a-versa.  Near the end we really dreaded the thought of returning to the grind of working class society.  Here everyone makes little problems seem like the end of the world.  There there were real problems.

The future: We will continue adding to the website and will be posting hostel reviews by guest writes.  (More info if you are interested.)  Our goal is for the website to grow and continue as we start posting our travel tales from the States.  We’ll be beginning the US section of the website in September when we take a road trip across the northwest in the process of moving to California!  We’re also working hard to edit the documentary and we’ll post updates on that front as it gets done.

Ending where we began: So now we find ourselves in much the same place we were in when the seed of the idea for La Aventura Project began.  Making the most of the US and working hard to save money for future adventures.  Dreaming and trying to decide which continent to conquer next.  Asia?  Africa?  Europe?  South again to finally make it all the way to Patagonia?  We have no idea where we should go, but luckily we have awhile to decide as we work to replenish our bank accounts.  The only sure thing is that we can’t stay here for too long, so una nueva aventura is unquestionably on the horizon.

“There is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” -Christopher McCandless

Chau chicos.

The Final Superlatives

We’re still working on a big, cleverly and intelligently written sum-up of the whole darn adventure.  It’s hard though!  It is coming soon, but for now enjoy the final edition of our La Aventura Project superlatives!

Days in South and Central America: 217

Dollars Spent: $10,586.14

Average Dollars per day: $70.45

Countries Visited: 10

Books Read: 22 (Carrie), lost track (Zach)

Doctor visits: 1 (Zach), 0 (Carrie)

Things We Lost: More random stuff than we remember

Favorite Food: ceviche (Zach), pupusas (Carrie)

Favorite Beverage: Colombian coffee, Campos de Solana vino tinto from Tarija, Bolivia, and Flor de Caña rum from Nicaragua

Best Wildlife Sighting: dolphins on the cruise from Panamá to Colombia

Nicest People: Colombians and Salvadorans

Most Touristy Countries: Perú and Guatemala

Most American Retirees: Panamá

Scariest/Coolest Experience: the eruption of Tungurahua Volcano

Most Liver Damage: Loki Hostel

Biggest Personal Changes: dreadlocks and eating meat (Carrie), actually speaking a second language (Zach)

Longest Bus Marathon: 3 days almost-straight, Trinidad, Bolivia to Arequipa, Perú

Best Hostel: Hostal Las Olas in Copacabana, Bolivia

Best Place to Open Our Bar Someday: Canoa, Ecuador

Most Sobering Site: civil war museum in Perquín, El Salvador

Most Life-Changing Moment: getting engaged

Sweatiest We’ve Ever Been in Our Lives: Nicaragua

Most Expensive Country/Most Fast Food Places: Costa Rica

Most Breeds of Potatoes: Perú

Best Shopping: Panajachel, Nicaragua

Creepiest Hotel: the Auto Hotel in Sonsonate, El Salvador

Favorite Country in Central America: El Salvador

Favorite Country Overall: Ecuador!!!!!!!!!!!!

Write for La Aventura Project/Stay in hostels for free

A big announcement today, everyone!  Since we are back in the US now, working real jobs again (boo) and editing the documentary, we don’t have as much to post here!  Thus, we are looking for current travelers in South or Central America to write hostel reviews for us and keep our directory growing!  If you are a good writer (in English), good photographer, and would like to stay in hostels and hotels for FREE, please contact us about an opportunity to write for our website.  We will also gladly feature a link to your own personal blog or website on all of your hostel reviews.  Again, we are only looking for travelers currently in South or Central America to review hostels in those regions.  Leave a comment or email us at laaventuraproject AT gmail DOT com if you are interested in more information about this awesome project!

A Fresh Perspective

Today’s been a long day of travel from capital to capital- San José, Costa Rica to Managua, Nicaragua.  But we have an exciting reason for not being in bed yet!  Zach’s old friend Steve is on a plane as we speak, flying in to join us for 10 days in Nicaragua!  Steve has never traveled outside the US or Canada, but he’s always up for adventures so we know it’s going to be a good time.  We’re excited to “show him the ropes” per se, and to have someone else to hang out with!  Mostly, I think it’s going to be really cool to have a friend with us as we near the end of our trip.  I’m hoping that we can show Steve a really amazing time and that traveling with a “newbie” will help us see things through fresh eyes again.  But enough from me, I’ll let Steve introduce himself:

“I’m Steve and I’m and joining Zach and Carrie on part of their journey through Central America. I’m very excited to experience someplace very different from what I’m used too. I’m looking forward to a good culture shock in Nicaragua with new language and lifestyle. My Spanish isn’t the best but I love a challenge and learning/experiencing new things. In all I’m just very excited about the experience I’ll have there, and everything I’ll be able to learn from being in a vastly different culture. Of course, when I tell people about traveling to Nicaragua they all have their comments (good and bad), questions, and concerns. My main concern for the journey is the SUN! So hopefully I don’t get too sunburned, otherwise I know this trip is going to be remarkable journey!”

Casa Yoses in San José, Costa Rica

Casa Yoses is THE place for backpackers in San José, Costa Rica, with all the services you need for a price you can afford.  The whole cool, colonial building is very spacious with large rooms and a lot of common space for socializing.

All staff members speak perfect English and Spanish and are super friendly and helpful.  The location is great as well- within walking distance to downtown but away from the noise and hustle.  With a well-equipped shared kitchen and a large grocery store only two blocks away (this place is like Safeway!) you can cook all your meals onsite.  You won’t need to cook breakfast though because a tasty one is included in the price of your room!

Beautiful murals throughout the hostel

Casa Yoses showcases some great art, including some cool murals and groovy lamps.  Outside you will find hammocks and a spot to barbeque.  Inside hosts a large TV room, computer room with four machines connected to the internet, and a game room with a nice pool and foosball tables.

Casa Yoses has a great vibe and we don’t come across many backpacking hangouts as nice as this one.  You will not feel like you are “roughing it”, that’s for sure, and you will probably end up staying even longer than planned!

Services:

Free computers with internet

WiFi throughout hostel

TV room

Book exchange

Game room with pool and foosball tables

Security lockers

24-hour reception

Shared kitchen

Parking lot

Luggage storage

Tour information

Connections with local Spanish schools

Volunteer opportunities available

Address: Avenida 8, Calle 41, San José, Costa Rica

Phone: (00506) 2234 54 86

Email: hostel@casayoses.com

Website:  www.casayoses.com

Prices:

Dormitory: $13

Single private: $19

Double private: $32

Double private suite: $38

Triple private: $48

Triple private suite: $57

Quadruple private: $64

Quadruple private suite: $76

 

This post was sponsored by Casa Yoses.

Brigitte Cabinas in Cahuita, Costa Rica

Brigitte Cabinas is a quiet and relaxing spot on the shores of the Caribbean in Cahuita, Costa Rica.  With surfing lessons, horseback riding, jungle tours, and other activities, the friendly owner Brigitte will be sure to find something that fits your fancy.  The cabins are colorful and cozy with ocean-life murals and a sea breeze flowing through the windows.  Each room has a fan and mosquito netting.  The speedy WiFi covers the entire grounds.  An on-site restaurant serves a full spread of classic breakfast options along with local favorites.

Restaurant serving breakfast

The beautiful, not-very-crowded Playa Negra is right across the street, and the town center is only a 15-minute walk away.  Nearby restaurants and tour agencies mean you don’t have to wander far for anything.  If you arrive by bus, call and Brigitte will send a free taxi to pick you up at the terminal.  The hotel takes all major credit cards along with US dollars and Costa Rican Colones.

The best part about Brigitte Cabinas are the stables at the back of the facility with a small herd of friendly horses ready to show you around the area.  On offer are a variety of horseback adventures, ranging in duration from an hour to all day.  On horseback is a great way to check out the amazing jungle and nearby beaches.

Services:

WiFi

Laundry

Parking

Tourist information

Restaurant serving breakfast

Book exchange

Library

Horseback riding

Surfboards for rent and surfing lessons

Bicycles for rent

Address:  Playa Negra, 300 m. West from the plaza, 50 m. South

Phone:  (+506) 2755 00 53

Email:  info@brigittecahuita.com

Website:  www.brigittecahuita.com

Prices (without breakfast/with breakfast):

Single room with shared bathroom ($15/$20)

1-person cabin ($35/$40)

2-person cabin ($40/$50)

3-person cabin with kitchen ($50/$60)

This post was sponsored by Brigitte Cabinas.