A few years ago a friend launched a website called Slow Traveller. It featured many vacation rentals and articles on enjoying and appreciating where you are by truly slowing down. I didn’t realize how vacation rentals fit into what she was calling slow travel as vacation rentals meant to me a villa in a destination such as Cabo San Lucas or a luxury Paris apartment rental. There was a sense that a vacation rental does slow down your trip, or in my view even inconvenience it, as the option of buying groceries, eating meals at the home and not being surrounded by crowds of people at the pool seemed to take away from the type of vacation that I enjoyed.
Last year, after some dramatic changes in my life, I needed to get away from work and the city and go to a place that was “out of the way” where things were calmer, the ocean was close by and that I could afford for a few months. Costa Rica had always been a dream destination of mine. I was intrigued by the beauty of the country and that it has been named the happiest place on earth.
The combination of natural beauty and friendly people were all the reasons I need to make a decision. It took me 20 minutes of searching the web for a long term vacation rental in Costa Rica. I had no concern for location aside from wanting it to be in Costa Rica and preferably by a beach, though the mountains would have done too.
The apartment I found was in a small town called Playa Grande. I had never heard of it. The photos of the house, a duplex, looked pretty and Playa Grande itself simply gorgeous.
A week later I found myself on a plane heading towards Costa Rica. A few hours later I was in what seemed to be a jungle, with sounds of howler monkeys around me, waves from the ocean rumbling the ground and more butterflies and birds than I have ever seen. There were few cars and I learned quickly that there were few people too, partly because Playa Grande is off the beaten path and because it was the rainy season. Both facts I didn’t know until I arrived. I really needed a rest.
The next month I stayed in the apartment, bought food from the local store, walked on the beach, spoke to a few of the locals. I didn’t do much else. There were no distractions aside from being with myself, my busy mind and the sounds of nature. The time passed extremely slowly.
I met a man on a bike one day. He and his wife had moved there after winning a trip and had decided to stay. He told me how his kids loved it, went surfing after school each day and when they did go back the States felt completely out of place because of all the stores and the material items that we clutch to. The conversation resonated as I realized I hadn’t picked up a phone, used a computer, gone into any store aside from the grocery store … a shack … for a month. During the conversation a male howler monkey walked right by us.
I stayed there for 2 more months. Each day swimming in the ocean, walking on the beach, talking to a few of the locals, never venturing further than Playa Grande, despite the beauty that I knew existed in the rest of the country.
Playa Tamarindo itself, the most famous of the towns in the Northwest Region of Costa Rica, was only a short water taxi ride. I didn’t go there. I surfed. I swam. I took long walks on the beach. I rested. There was no wild night life. No drinking. Nothing but slowing down to feel nature. And I did.
For the first time since my childhood I could hear the rhythm of nature. From the intense thunderstorms — that happened for a few hours every day, to the monkeys, crickets, birds and my own footsteps walking on a road that barely a car would go on. Nights were pitch black. So black that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.
One starts to notice things when you slow down. Things that were always there. It was during this time that I figured out what my friend had meant by slow travel. It wasn’t simply about the vacation rental lifestyle of being in a house with all the amenities. It was much, much more.
To discover more about Slow Travel in the NW part of Costa Rica here are some vacation rentals for you to choose from vacationdiggs.com