Where is Costa Rica ?


People of Jaco Beach, Costa rican lifestyle


Yes, I admit, this question can appear weird for some people who actually know where Costa Rica is but if I count how many times this question has come back to my ears, especially from my European compatriots and my American friends, it just turns allowable to write few words about it.

To give a proper answer and do honor to my country of heart, let me explain quickly my situation. May 23, 2017, I became a volunteer in Jaco Inn hostel, located in Jaco beach on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Since this date, I just forgot the idea of going back home, in Europe. Love at first sight. However, for short periods, I traveled a little through Asia and Europe and who says trip, says meeting new people and reciprocal explanation of the personal situation. Then comes the interest of my question, "Where is Costa Rica?” Indeed, when I explain where I live, generally, my interlocutor’s eyes load with doubts and drifted questions are asked to me to know where is Costa Rica.


Coffee plantation in Tarrazu


“Costa Rica… It’s close to Thailand, right? “

“Hum… Not really !” It’s true though that a lot of European confound Costa Rica and Sri Lanka. Both are countries in compound names with the same last syllable and share this exotic connotation that lets us imagine a wildlife and postcard landscapes with white sand beaches, falling palms and translucent water. Honeymoon destinations globally. Nevertheless, what differentiates them remains their geographical situation. Costa Rica is found on the American continent and Sri Lanka in Asia.

 “Costa Rica… Isn’t an island lost in the depths of the Pacific?”

“Still no !” However, the name Costa Rica translated "rich coast" in English, easily pushes us to the error. If "coast" is a name’s compound of the country, then there must be many! We can think. And who says a lot of shores, says "island" generally. To that, you add "rich" and then comes the image of the little piece of paradise all pretty and all lost very far. On the other hand, it’s true for the Pacific! The latter borders Costa Rica on the west and the Caribbean Sea borders on the east. The reason why Costa Rica is not an island but a real country in Central America, is due to her great neighbors, Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south.

Sunset from Calle Bohio, Jaco beach


“Costa Rica, Puerto Rico… I never know which one is where?”

The common amalgam of my American friends. As seen previously, one is a country of Central America, the other is a Caribbean island. The two countries are more or less close geographically since they are at 2000 km as the crow flies. Culturally also, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico come together through their Spanish origins. So, in both places, they speak Spanish and enjoy gourmet dishes made from rice, red beans and plantains. Many similarities that legitimize the confusion between those two countries but with, so far, their distinct identities that are worth discovering not to confound them anymore.

To be honest, I do like to be asked this question, "Where is Costa Rica?" This gives me the feeling (I insist on the word feeling) of being a traveler off the beaten track who goes where everyone does not go, and I deeply appreciate this idea. Costa Rica resonates then like an exclusive adventure, a no man’s island, lost somewhere, with just palms, wild jungle and white sand beaches.

By Laurene

Photography by Nickolas Saraceni

Instagram: @charizard22

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