Viva La Fiesta! – Costa Rica

Long live the party!!! Here is the first of a series based on my party travel experiences…

I landed at the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica the night before Envision Festival started. First stop? AIRPORT DUTY FREE SHOP! I’m a boozehound and picky about my libations. Plus, the only thing better than drinking tequila is sharing it! I got a bottle of Milagro Tequila for 22$, El Jimador Tequila for 14$, and a bottle of strong Costa Rican Coffee Liquor for 11$. If you fly into Costa Rica and know that you will be drinking, buy your booze at the Duty-Free shop. It will be MUCH cheaper than in stores, since the country has very high retail taxes.

I caught a cab to a hostel that I’d pre-arranged due to its close proximity to the airport: Alejeula Backpackers Hostel. Alejeula is the name of the town that the airport is actually in – San Jose is a farther drive. This hostel has a free shuttle to/from the airport, however I think I arrived too late to catch the free ride. The cab I took was cheap since the hostel was close. The place has a bar, restaurant, free wifi, and good accommodations. If I’m just crashing somewhere to leave the next day, I want to get there and don’t need swimming pools or luxury. The following morning, my ride picked me up for Envision; Raja and Clifford from Laser-guided Visions, along with Sarah from a Denver-based fire troupe. We were on our way… Passing a Pollo Campero a few hours later and in need of directions, we stopped and grabbed a bite. Pollo Campero is a Central American fastfood chicken chain that I like – it’s so tender and juicy. Seriously though, if you deal with fastfood at all, then this is a good place to eat when you’re on the run.

Not sure if it was a planned stop or not, but we went to Manuel Antonio, a beautiful beach village adjacent to a National Park. The water was perfect, and you could sit under an umbrella on lounge chairs and order cocktails from waiters who walked down the beach. We, however, had places to go and music to see, so we jumped in the ocean right away.

We reached the town of Dominical – small and cutesy with good surf breaks. This is where the first Envision Festival was held last year. A stop at the hardware store for firehoop fuel (there were also tents for sale in lots of places, in case you need one once you’re down there), and then into the gates of the festival. I camped as close as possible to the music, since I like easy access to the liquor cabinet in my tent as well as my sparkly weirdo wardrobe. I don’t like cold beverages, I effing love them. When I go to festivals via plane, train, or bus, I travel with this soft backpack cooler that is just large enough for a bag of ice and a handful of beers. It packs down really small and is ultra-portable if I want to bring it around to different stages. I got it for 12$ at a discount camping store in Salt Lake City and although it leaks a little, it has served me so well during times when I can’t lug my regular cooler to an event.

One morning, I went to a mansion after-soiree with a hot tub, view of the ocean, and an infinity pool. An infinity pool, I learned, is a pool that has no visible edge, so when you are in it, the end of the pool actually just fades into the horizon. I met some fabulous fun people at this joint, got really smashed from no sleep, sun, and copious amounts of the sauce. That night, Saturday, I missed a lot of the music because I simply had to sleep. In recent years, I go really hard, but need to recharge my batteries. I must! Even if it’s the best artists of the lineup – I do not care. Sleep is invaluable to me when I need it. Although I didn’t use them for my rest that night, earplugs are also invaluable. Spending a few dollars at a pharmacy for 10 sets of foam earplugs is a must for travel. A couple other neccesities in my survival party bag are: Exedrin, or it’s store-brand equivalent (because it contains caffeine and is the only good fix for the hangover headaches that plague me), Pepto Bismol chewable tablets (which are great to carry on-hand in case anyone around me has an upset stomach), duct tape (since it fixes anything and you can wrap a bunch of it around a pen and unroll it again just like if you’re unrolling it off of the heavy, big roll it originally comes on), Burt’s Bees Rescue ointment (good for cuts, burns, stings, and the painful dryness that might happen to your nose or body after being in the desert… perfect for when I pick my nose too much on the Playa at Burning Man), bug repellent and a tiny flashlight in case I lose my very necessary headlamp.

Something I really noticed in Costa Rica were the prices in the grocery store; they were expensive. Food, even vegetables, costs the same or more than in the States, and bottled water cost the same as it does in New York. Having travelled to most of the continents, I figured taxes made it this way. I inquired with a few locals about their quality of life. During a festival after-party at an estate in the middle of Dominical (a night-time pool party where some of the main acts from the festival played), the locals hustling beer confirmed that for the people of Costa Rica, education and healthcare are of very good quality and accessible to all. During a bonfire on the beach later that night/morning, I chilled with an awesome Costa Rican nicknamed Rolex 420, and he shared the sentiment. From what I gather, Costa Rica’s approach to tax/social programs is similar to Switzerland, where things cost much more than they are worth in order to provide a better quality of life for its citizens. So on those occasions in Costa Rica when you feel the pocketbook strain, at least be happy that your tax money is going to positive social programs (as opposed to where other nation’s tax dollars go…). And if you’re trip is long, you need not stay in Costa Rica the whole time. Check out some cheaper, beautiful places to makeup the difference for the fabulous time you had in Costa Rica.

I missed some of the after-parties of Envision Fest because I was immobile; I stepped on a wasp, or some other fucker with wings and a stinger. This has happened a few times over the years when I am partying and it’s confirmed – I am allergic to it. I couldn’t walk at all during the last day and night of the festival, and had various men carrying me around when I wasn’t using a cane that my new friend Clifford had made for me. From now on, I will carry not only Benedryl in my supply bag, but an Epi-pen as well. And as fancy as I felt having shirtless hotties carrying me around that last day, if you have an allergy, even if it’s slight or a new one, make sure you have the remedy you need with you.

Some other things I like to do while traveling out of the country too… If my trip is more than a week or two, I get a little bit of money in American travellers checks. Record the # that are on each check (maybe you can email yourself them) and if they are lost or stolen, you can still retrieve the money while travelling. This is good if your stuff gets stolen. Travellers checks also came in handy 5 years ago in Guatemala when the ATM’s didn’t have money for a few weeks (whacko, but it happened). You just go into the bank with your passport and the check, and you leave with cash. Saving some US 20-dollar bills for emergencies is good too. Crisp and new is best, since in certain countries and certain places, physically old foreign money is circumspect. Don’t put all your valuables in the same pocket or backpack section. Call your bank, and tell them when you’ll be out of the country. Photocopy your passport, and don’t carry around the original unless you’re carrying all of your belongings while in transit. Passports are stolen because they can sell for thousands of dollars; screw your camera, screw your i-whatever… Keep that passport safe! If you want to travel with a computer, do it. Backup everything and insure it internationally with, which covers theft, repairs, and even spills. The insurance includes your laptop and the electronics connected to the laptop, such as cameras and hardware. If you are the victim of computer theft, file a police report if you want to make an insurance claim. But don’t worry – it’s gonna’ be all good.

So… Enjoy your time in paradise, be open to change whether it’s in your travel plans or within yourself, and, as we say here at LostinSound, RAGE RESPONSIBLY!

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