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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Out of the Jungle and Back to the Beach

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

I’m shit at packing.

Regardless of how smart and experienced I tried to sound at the beginning of this trip, while I was attempting to look like some kind of organization professional, I am utter shit.

I hauled along so many things that, to this day, I haven’t bothered to even put on yet. Nor will I. I have already done two clothing dumps, discarding of unwanted weight. I refuse to be tied down with useless apparel. As I have mentioned, quite a few times before, I tend to wear the same outfit every day when I’m on vacation... and Costa Rica has been no exception to the rule. I have three tanks tops I adore, my knickers, 1 other pair of shorts... and 2 bathing suits. That would all fit nicely into a small pack with a bit of deodorant, my shampoo and my toothbrush. But nope... I insist on being accompanied by half my ridiculous wardrobe.


Cotton is key.

Another very important thing to remember - clothes are sold in other countries. I have never visited a country that didn't have one or two clothing shops. It's unreal. Seriously.

I’m over packing... literally, over-packing… and it's over now. No more will I fall prey to the lure of excessive and false fashion packing. Of course, whether or not I heed my own advice is another topic altogether.

After my treacherous journey from Samara, I finally reached my destination: Montezuma.

It was a charming little spot, even at night, with its bright colours and luminous decor. It seemed to be exactly as I had envisioned it, laid back with a really ‘bohemian meets surfer meets chic’ atmosphere.

I drove through the town, torn between trying to keep my eyes glued to my map app, and trying to take in the surroundings of this inviting, little community. It was the kind of place that makes you almost want to be a hippie. Almost. Maybe not a hippie... but one of those people that hasn't a care in the world. No bills owing, no mortgage, no work waiting... just a simple beach life.

Beach and tacos.

I'd probably want a shower and a comfortable bed, too. And unlimited funds.

I eventually found my accommodation. It was very conveniently located, and a mere 3 minutes walk into the centre. Casa Susen.

What can I say about Casa Susen?


Well… the house itself was very reminiscent of a plantation home, found in one of the Southern States. It had all the characteristics of Antebellum architecture ~ huge pillars, a balcony that runs along the outside edge of the house, large windows and grand entrance.

What should have been very majestic… was anything but.

It was dirty, disheveled and altogether uncared for. The gardens were overgrown and looked like they had never been tended to. The entire yard was littered with tools, old boats, tarps, dirt mounds, remnants of old fires and more. The was a definite lack of love.

The lady of the manor spent much of her day, seated on the front balcony, at a large desk, pouring over a bloody great ledger, without much clue to what was actually going on. I approached her on a couple of occasions, each conversation having a much different outcome about 5-10 minutes after our initial chat. At one point, i approached her to inquire about extending my stay one more night. She stared at me, quite blankly, and just nodded. Brilliant… off I went to resume adventure. Moments later, she appeared in my doorway to let me know they had a reservation for the evening and the place was full.

There was not much inviting about Casa Susen, unless you take into consideration the proximity to Montezuma and the beach. In the daylight, one could clearly see the place was oozing with potential.

The rooms were minimal to the point of bare bones. There were no complimentary soaps or drinking glass or face cloth. The love was missing. There were no personal touch. Either they didn’t much care or they didn’t have the slightest idea abut what they had in the palm of their hands. I fear the latter.

A young family seemed to have moved in below us, with zero regard for guests... and on my final day, they were all out feeding crisps to the wildlife! It seemed to veer more on the side of unethical pura vida...but what do I know?

This is where I met Ilona.

Ilona was a British lady, in her early 70's, who had been back and forth between Britain and Costa Rica for the past year and a half. She initially started by teaching English, in Samara, but had met a local man and fallen prey to the powers of holiday romance.

The gentleman in question, was in his 40's and had the very unfruitful, pura vida career of carving assorted driftwood items and making jewelry to see on the beach and in the tourist resorts. He had nothing to his name, and I fear he saw Ilona as his winning lottery ticket. His jackpot.

It’s a real thing down here, locals thinking all tourists are full of money. It’s surreal having to convince someone that you aren’t, in fact, filthy rich. It’s never a conversation you might engage in with someone at home, but here, there is zero regard as to your wretched financial state of affairs or horrendous debt. We are all walking and talking gold bars.

Holiday romances can be very special, because they are usually limited in time. Ilona, traveling solo and getting on in age, probably jumped in with both feet, disregarding their age difference, and more importantly, their vast cultural differences. What should have been a short-lived romance turned serious, and it became more and more difficult for Ilona to disregard their differing financial situations and relationship expectations. Ilona was in the middle of discovering that attraction is not always practical. Finally, having reached the end of her tether, she ended the relationship... and landed herself in the room next to mine, at Casa Susen. She had taken a big leap of faith, and it wasn’t panning out exactly as she had initially imagined. It was not an easy transition for her, as she was convinced she had once again, found love.

I remember laughing with Ilona about the abundance of pura vida in Costa Rica, and the utter lack of it in jolly, old England.

For the record, no beach patrolling jewelry makers have hit on me yet...

I don't think I look rich enough.

Need to up my game... and maybe my wardrobe!

My first day in Montezuma, I decided to go nowhere near my vehicle. I was still slightly traumatized by the activities of the previous day... and preferred to stay put, with both feet on the ground. I wandered around town, I walked the entire length of the local beach and I hung out in a number of little seaside cafes and pubs, allowing myself to try different cocktail creations and letting myself be hypnotized by the sounds of the crashing waves.

The second day, I was back in adventure mode and was determined to explore all that the beautiful area had to offer. Ilona agreed to accompany me.

We headed south, towards Cabo Blanco National Fee, but when we arrived, there was a fee affiliated with the hike, so we opted out. I had originally been looking forward to getting back into the tropical wilderness, on two feet, as there was a little too much time spent in the car for my liking, but Ilona didn't seem keen, so we turned around.

We stopped at Rio Lajas, which was probably the most incredibly beautiful rivers I've have ever seen. It was warm, turquoise clear water, with pools of varying depth... everything a tropical river should be.. and void of those ghastly crocodiles, which I enjoy most of all.

I could spend my entire vacation in this river, and be perfectly happy.

From there, we had to hit a local brewery. Right?

We got the full tour at La Selva Cerveza Artesanal... and although the tour was quite boring and not really worth the payment, the conversation that followed with one of the employees was top notch.


Not only was he knowledgable in the craft of brew making, he filled us in on the goings-on of the area, Costa Rica and its government, the people's stance on climate control, a little bit about agriculture, COVID cases and future requirements... everything. Definitely worth a visit, if anyone is down that way.

And the beer was quite tasty, too!

After our little beach-hopping jaunt, we popped into an incredible Mediterranean restaurant and I had the most delicious roasted eggplant & tomato dish and a glass of white wine, while watching the beach walkers wander by.

Then it was time to drop Ilona off...

I bid her farewell and look like in the labours of love...

... and I was off to Santa Teresa!

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