Hitchhiking in Uvita, Costa Rica
Updated: Jul 11, 2020
It was hard to leave San Gerardo de Rivas and the beautifully fresh mountain air, but finally I made my way down to the infamous little town of Uvita.
Unfortunately I completely missed the bus stop for Uvita, and realized my error about 4km down the highway. It was dark, but I'd felt pretty safe in Costa Rica thus far, and I really didn't have much of an option - so I got my sweaty, backpacked ass walking back down the highway, cursing my daydreaming tendency on buses. Finally I came to the top of the road that leads to Uvita, and by my guess it was at least another mile walking... luckily, on my first attempt at flagging down a vehicle, a van with a local family stopped to pick me up and took me most of the way. Then, I was offered a ride by a tourist couple for the last 500 meters. Winning! I arrived to the beautiful Futterbly Hostel ready to chill hard, so when I discovered that my dorm "room" was really an open-air treehouse, and I'd have to literally climb a ladder with my heavy backpacks to get to it, I didn't blink an eye.
After ripping a couple stanky farts upon waking the next morning, the choking cloud seemed to get trapped in my mosquito net and I finally chose getting up over suffocating. Cooked up some oatmeal for breakfast with almonds, coconut, maple syrup (I'm learning how to make this healthy shit taste good), and some fried bananas with rice for lunch... Half of which was stuff I'd gotten from the free box at hostels. Sweet! Knowing it would just be another beach, and then kicking myself for being such a burned out snob, I walked down to Playa Uvita before it was time to catch my bus. It really was just another beach, pretty of course but nothing special compared to the other beaches I'd seen in Costa Rica, and I felt both disappointed, weary and validated. There was a nice peeling wave that caught my attention, but I wasn't about to rent a $20 board, on principle. So I caught the 11:40 bus to Quepos.
After about 6km I realised I'd left my phone at the hostel and jumped off the bus. Feckkkkk. I tried to hitchhike back for about 30 minutes, and was feeling pretty unsuccessful, silly, and very sweaty with my thumb stuck out awkwardly (I'm not much of a hitchhiker, really)... when finally an old hippie named Glen picked me up in his beautiful green vintage VW van "Bambu". Glen was an absolute gem. He was an early 50's U.S. expat, just one of those people you know are pure-hearted and sincere, and probably not made for this world. He not only picked me up on his way south to Panama (to renew his visa, as he's done every three months for the past 15 years!), he even went out of his way to take me all the way back to my hostel, waited for me while I ran to grab the dang iphone from where I'd left it charging, and then drove me to my bus stop so I wouldn't miss the next bus at 1pm.
During this time he told me about his passion for neurolinguistic programming, and we shared our beliefs on life - a lot of his views matched my own, things like how disillusioned we are with our home country and how the media is largely to blame; that the path to personal growth is actually littered with practical things like consistently rewording things in your mind to re-create your own narrative, etc. He was so earnest and inspiring, and just restored my faith in humanity. We need more Glen's! I got his info in case he ever writes a book or motivational tape.
Caught my bus to Quepos, jumped off quick as lightning and ran to a nearby ATM and jumped back on in record time (I'd run out of cash) to catch the second segment to San Jose. From San Jose I caught the third segment to La Fortuna, but my luck had run out this time and there was about a 2hr hold-up on the highway - I'd have to spend the night in La Fortuna before making my way to Lake Arenal the following day. In Fortuna I did the old walk-off-the-bus-and-pick-the-first-hostel-I-saw (Hostel Backpackers La Fortuna), and it turned out to be great - hot water, a free towel and a smoking area so I wouldn't have to smoke on the street like an awkward outcast. I'm an easy girl to please!
I was pretty tired at this point... confusingly, bus travel does seem to exhaust a body sometimes. Plus in Jaco I'd stupidly bought my two weeks' worth of groceries for my Workaway stay at Lake Arenal - instead of buying them in a closer city like Fortuna. So it's no exaggeration to say my backpack was fucking heavy! When I handed it to the bus driver to stow, I told him it was pesado (heavy) but he didn't believe me and staggered back when I passed it over (I won't lie, seeing that was very validating). So by the time I got checked in, I was more than ready to drink my two glasses of wine (thereby reducing my weight carried!), read my book and pass out.
What lessons did I take away from this?
1. Hitchhiking in Costa Rica isn't so bad/hard
2. I should get my head out of the clouds, so I won't have to hitch in the first place