Costa RicaCosta Rica

The Trip Home

After one last look at Flamingo's perfect crescent of white sand beach, I was ready to head home. I drove inland, towards the Tempisque Bridge and stopped briefly in El Llano to gas up my car. The cheerful attendant checked my oil and brake fluid without being asked, and wished me a safe and pleasant journey.

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I noted that in every part of this trip, as in all of my travels through Costa Rica, I was continually amazed at the charm and genuine hospitality of Ticos. As a female traveling solo, I have never felt safer in another country. I knew that if my car broke down or I suddenly found myself lost, a complete stranger would lend a helping hand, and do so with a smile.

Driving past large swathes of open plains, I spotted a couple of sabaneros rounding up their cattle. I pulled over to snap a few photographs of the Costa Rican cowboys in action. I walked closer to the approaching herd, trying to get that perfect shot, when a couple of ill-tempered bulls veered away from the pack. Lowering my camera, I could have sworn I saw a glint in their eyes as they ran in my general direction.

I hightailed it back to the safety of my car, no doubt an entertaining sight for the men on horseback. While being gored by a Guanacaste bull makes for an interesting story and no doubt an impressive scar, I had no desire to end a perfectly good trip with bodily harm.

Heart racing, I laughed out loud as the sabaneros disappeared with their cattle in a cloud of dust. I wondered what they thought, if anything, of this crazy Gringa and her oversized camera. Most likely nothing.

Not much seemed to faze the Guanacaste cowboy -- not tourists, condos or surf shops. I drove away hoping that, at least, would never change.

The Trip Home in Pictures

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