The end of most of my trip reports ends with a summary of our travel day back and our thoughts about whatever place we happened to be coming back from.
This trip was a little different because it had more of a purpose to it. We were really interested in seeing if Costa Rica could be a possibility for a place for us to someday retire.
Hence the question "Could this be THE place?"
The answer is not as clear cut as one may think. During our trip we visited many different areas since I had read how diverse CR is and that a visit to one area would not adequately give a full idea of everything that this little country has to offer. And boy, is this true.
From this one vacation I feel like we have traveled to at least 4 different places, each with its own pluses and minuses that could tip the scales in either answering "yes" or "no" to the question before us.
Our first stop to the Caribbean side of the country was funky and laid back but as Dave said, it had a little "rougher"feel to it mostly referring to overall security. It was not that we felt unsafe at any time but of all the places that we stayed it almost felt like they were hiding any issues - not entirely sure how to say it and it would not keep us from visiting again but it was just a sense that we got.
Lake Arenal, particularly Nuevo Arenal is a mixture of lake, farm and small towns on one side and a more touristy atmosphere on the other. I envisioned NH lake areas when I thought of how this place may be but it was quite opposite because they do not allow building right on the lake's front. Things seemed a little more spread out here but maybe that was just because of the things we did in this area.
Monteverde is a beautiful cloud forest with so many friendly people and so peaceful too. If it weren't for the terrible non-paved roads to get to this area it could almost be a consideration for a great place to live. But honestly, the condition of the road is not something that we would want to deal with on a regular basis but we would easily visit this area again.
The Pacific Coast - first of all I"ll start by saying that the Pacific Coast is huge and we only visited a small area of it so there certainly could be other areas here to explore as well. But, for the area we visited which was Samara, we were very pleased with it. This was a really great beach town. There was an even mix of locals and ex-pats and the ex-pats that are here did not seem to want to make this area a "little America" by bringing their ideas and politics and such along. They truly came here to be in Costa Rica and I really liked that about this area. We felt very safe here even though there were many signs and reminders to watch your things, don't leave things in your car, etc. Maybe that was the difference between this area and the Caribbean - here they were honest and forthcoming about it but on the other side it felt hush-hush...maybe just me but...
The one thing that was lacking on either coast was the snorkeling - there were not many areas to snorkel and on the pacific side it was a bit too choppy and murky for us.
Overall within the country we found areas in which things were not overpriced if you stayed away from the tourists and we feel that we could live here cheaper than in the states although more homework would be required to make sure that we utilize the local methods to save money.
So, can I answer the question definitively.....No, I can't.
I have always assumed that there is a place out there that Dave and I will discover that we will just immediately know that is where we are meant to be, our little "Ahhh, this is it" moment. We didn't get that in the areas we visited in Costa Rica but we do agree that possibly Samara or another area on the Pacific coast could fit the bill if necessary so we will keep our notes and continue on to search other areas.
Now, where to try next???