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How to Make a Local Connection Traveling to Costa Rica

How to Make a Local Connection Traveling to Costa Rica

Many of our guests traveling to Costa Rica attribute their ‘highlights’ to the special people they meet along the way. From farmers to shop owners, local families, teachers and students, our expert guides and drivers,  all the 'Ticos' you meet will make your trip to Costa Rica an adventure to remember. In fact, many of them are my friends. As Wildland's Central America Program Specialist, I am a 'Tica' living in my native Costa Rica, so I'm always finding new people I want you to meet. Our local connections here allow me to handcraft one of a kind Costa Rica adventure vacations that give our travelers an authentic cultural experience and an especially unforgettable journey. 

Here are just some of the local connections I love sharing with our travelers in Costa Rica.

Rodrigo Rodrigues and I at the organic farmers market.

Rodrigo Rodrigues Oranganic Coffee Farm:

I first met Rodrigo at an organic farmers market and discovered that he owns a small organic coffee farm here in Costa Rica which he works on with just his wife and 2 kids. Spending an afternoon with Rodrigo is like going back in time to the old Costa Rica, when the whole coffee process was nutured by hand from planting, triming and picking, to roasting, grinding and packaging the coffee. Rodrigo is a nature lover and puts his heart into everything he does. We sat down for coffee together and I asked if he would like to share his craft and family life with our travelers, becuase I told him,  

"Drinking a cup of your coffee
is like sipping liquid love, priceless!"

An afternoon with Rodrigo is an opportunity to learn about truely sustainable, non-traditional agricultural methods of the Neotropics. Forget about commercial coffee tours! Now, on a guided visit with Rodrigo and his family you learn all about coffee, horticultural gardens, medicinal plants, tropical fruits, and taste a delicious meal prepared by his wife. Rodrigo tailors the tour for our guests according to their particular interests. They revel in sharing their way of life and love for Mother Earth. Plus, Rodrigo has a great sense of humor! I stop at Rodrigo’s stand every Saturday at my local farmer's market and we chat about what’s going on at the farm and what new products he is offering. He's so very creative! 

Visaí Mora and Vicky Ortiz:

Visaí Mora is our friend and local guide in Londres at Quepos near Manuel Antonio National Park, and Vicky operates a little ‘soda’ (mini restaurant) called Las Brisas del Nara at the entrance of Londres. Las Brisas has become a regular Wildland stop for coffee, an ‘empanada’, some tropical fruit before our 2 hour walk to Campesinos, a rural farm visit in the hills. Visaí welcomes us into their house to treat us with some sugar cane juice that he presses on the spot along with some fresh coffee. Personally, I head to  the backyard and munch on the delicious cashew fruits from the abundant cashew trees.


Guest quote: “Possibly the single best day of our trip at Manuel Antonio was hiking with Leo and Visai. We fell in love with both of them. Fortunately, we could speak Spanish well enough to talk to Visai. Even our daughter, Emma, got to practice the Spanish she is learning at school. Visai accommodated Emma with his horse so that she didn't have to hike at all (my spoiled child!), but she was so happy. We loved stopping at the little restaurant where Vicki treated us to fresh fruit and juice. Then the lunch spot with the banana pancakes and later the full lunch spread, it was so delicious! We felt honored to go to Visai's home. With his machete always in hand, he sliced off the top of the freshest coconut and we all shared the juice. Then he showed us how to get juice out of the sugarcane by using that rolling machine. We drank the sugarcane juice, which tasted like honey. Leo was so sweet throughout. Emma thought he was the best guide ever.” 
Jon and Jodi Monahan, traveling with their two children (ages 7 & 9) on our Costa Rica Family Vacation.


Doña Vera's cooking class:

Doña has lived with her husband in the rural Pacific coast community of Guacalillo for 20 years. She is a retired school teacher and currently is the regional director of the Central Pacific Farmer’s Markets. Originally, Vera and her family lived in the urban community of Escazú near the capital city of San José for 23 years. They moved near the coast for a better life where they have 400 mango trees which they sell the fruit in local markets and for export. Vera also raises lambs for the local market. 

Doña Vera recently hosted Lucy Waverman, a food columnist for Canada's Globe and Mail sharing some of her favorite tropical  recipes using local products including Bewitched picadillo, traditional starfruit liquor cake, cashew fruit preserve, mango cream, and cas fruit lollipops, If you visit Vera, she makes sure you will not leave disappointed or hungry!

Tracie Stice, The Bug Lady

Tracie is one of those characters that I just can’t get enough of. I've joined her nocturnal walk dozens of times and on every one I learn something new. Going on a night walk with Tracie and her partner Gianfranco Gomez is such a treat! Every night you never know what you will see and invariably you conclude in wonderment of all the magical stories and creatures that you find along the way. Tracie can easily spot brightly colored poison-arrow frogs (among the most toxic creatures on Earth), bullet ants, Jesus Christ basilisk lizards, peanut head bugs, and some others you wouldn’t be able to see due to their unbelievable camouflage; but they won’t go unnoticed by Tracie’s trained eye and knowledge of where to find them. While some parents may cringe at spiders of the night, Tracie is really good at turning on our young entomology enthusiasts who express a special interest in the creatures of the night. 

Their lively personalities, idiosyncrasies and love of nature is infectious. And their desire to amaze you turns these shared encounters in the rainforest into unforgettable, life changing memories. The nocturnal walk is a must do when visiting the Osa Peninsula.

Keeping it wild,

Grettel Calderon
Wildland Adventures Costa Rica Program Director

Got questions about travel to Costa Rica? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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