San Jose, Costa Rica, from Above

(Trip courtesy of Marriott Costa Rica)

Ah, Latin American cities: what’s not to love? Wide boulevards, awe-inspiring palaces, gorgeous old-world-new-world architecture…packs of stray dogs, beggars, choking smog, bewildering transportation options… San José is better than most, but it can be difficult to maintain perspective while tired and footsore, your head all a-whirl from the noise and traffic and giant billboards.

Check out the view from here.

I was standing on the top of a hill overlooking San José, Costa Rica, a little travel-worn and stressed about a frank exchange of opinions (about Obama’s healthcare plan…how blasé) I’d had with another, wealthier American I had met there. It happened at Tiquicia, a nice, though tourist-focused restaurant serving traditional Costa Rican fare.

There’s a full bar, live music and dancing on weekends—but the real attraction is the view, which, as you’ve already seen, is breathtaking.

It was a foggy night that was beginning to clear as I shot the view. From there, from that distance, perspective was forced into my brain with a jolt, forcing me to recalibrate. San José had transformed from a manic whirlwind of cars and dogs to a sea of twinkling lights and orange-illuminated clouds far beneath me. And, the inevitable analogy: that even my most deeply held beliefs are, in the long run, silly preoccupations. I didn’t even care, as it turned out, about that asshole’s position on healthcare, and I can’t change his mind for him. Proselytizing is pointless. Just, focus on one point, breathe, and enjoy the view.


By: Ben Britz

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The Anti Tourist goes to Costa Rica 2k10!

What follows is a series of photographs by Ben Britz and Elizabeth Seward which, we’re confident, perfectly capture the bon vivant essence of this beautiful country. And if not perfectly, then acceptably. Anyway, here are some pictures of Costa Rica.

Carara National Park, Costa Rica

Carara National Park, Costa Rica

Carara National Park, Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

Elizabeth in our room, looking out…

at the view.

A restaurant. A Costa Rican restaurant…in Costa Rica.

Costa Rican Surf ‘n’ Turf in that restaurant.

On a mountaintop near the Pacific in Costa Rica.

Tropical storm’s a-brewin’.

Elizabeth Seward chillaxin’.

Outdoor massage huts, Los Sueños, Costa Rica.

Los Sueños Marina by night.

Costa Rica from above.

A Rainforest Resort: Costa Rica

(Scarlet Macaw at the resort).

Marriott’s Los Suenos Resort on the coast of the Pacific in Costa Rica isn’t something I’d normally think I’d write about. I mean, I’m trying to tell you all about things you wouldn’t know about already, right? Well, here’s something you might not know: this ocean-side resort is smack in the middle of the rainforest. And by rainforest, I mean, we had lunch outside one day (with some top-notch ceviche and maracuya drinks no less) and Scarlet Macaws were frolicking about in the trees by our side. Costa Ricans are used to this. Gringos are not. I was amazed. I felt like a child chasing them with my camera and when I finally wore myself out, I slumped down in a chair on the beach with my computer in hand—determined to document the experience.

The rainforest is all around Los Suenos and it’s no accident that I saw those macaws. I later found out that the hotel has actually planted a certain breed of tree specifically to attract macaws to the grounds. And the golf course there? It’s beautiful. And I don’t even play golf! But the 18th hole? Yeah. It’s right in the middle of the rainforest. I saw an eagle there. I’m definitely learning how to golf.

Of course in addition to the awesome landscape surrounding the hotel, there are other things worth seeing. Nuevo Latino is a restaurant on site with molecular cuisine. You would not believe what these people can do to a papaya, or a piece of coconut. It’s like Bill Nye the Science Guy meets Julia Child. Ridiculous, weird, and also delicious. The art throughout the place ain’t so bad, either. A ship ornamented with glass bottles, waterfall architecture, and the nearby Carara National Park make it all worth while.

We were sad to leave the resort but couldn’t really complain while kissing the country goodbye from the first class windows of our American Airlines flight home. Now that was a comfy ride back to NYC.

(Carara National Park)

By: Elizabeth Seward, Photos By: Elizabeth Seward and Ben Britz

Crocodiles in Costa Rica–Alive and Everything

The first time I went to Costa Rica was last summer. I was staying at an eco-lodge called Nicuesa in the middle of the rainforest close to the Panama border. For whatever reason, I preoccupied myself with Google searches before the trip, trying to figure out which creatures down there in the wilderness would kill me. I started having nightmares of crocodiles. I studied exactly how I should run away from a crocodile should it chase me (in a zig-zag), but was surprisingly disappointed when the local crocodile at Nicuesa didn’t show his face.

A recent second trip to Costa Rica left me more satisfied. On a winding, hilly, beautiful drive out to the Los Suenos Resort on the Pacific, my driver stopped off the newly built Caldera Pacific Highway for what I thought was a courtesy, a blessing from him to me, a way of saying, “go ahead, go buy handfuls of the $5 handmade earrings hanging from the roadside stand”. So I bought the earrings. I went to the restroom. I eyed some tapestries. And then I realized what everyone else at the stop had already realized: there were a shit-ton of crocodiles nearby.

Just a minute walk away from us was the Tarcoles River—better known to gringos (and maybe locals?) as Crocodile River. I approached the bridge over the river with caution, fully prepared to zig-zag back to my car. I peered over the bridge’s edge and gazed down onto mud-brown waters ornamented with the bulging eyes and thick skins of crocodiles—many of them. I mean, at least twenty of them. Maybe twenty thousand.

I’d bet any nearby locals were scoffing at my excitement over a creature they’ve grown up with, but you know what? Whatever. Seeing crocodiles in the wild is freaking awesome and viewing them from atop a little bridge like this is the best way to do it…and, you know, probably the safest way.

By: Elizabeth Seward, Photos By: Ben Britz