Touristy Costa Rica with a Dark Side

Two stops in Costa Rica: Manuel Antonio national park and the capital city San José.

We stopped by in Costa Rica to make a commercial for a local hostel in exchange for food and lodging. You can watch the film here.

The hostel was in Manuel Antonio which is the second biggest tourist attraction in Costa Rica. Big groups of American and European tourists were herding everywhere. We knew that Costa Rica attracts a lot of Westerners but what we saw was beyond any of our expectations.

Naturally, the beach and the scenery in Manuel Antonio are great but the downside of the heavy presence of tourism industry is that all nice places are incredibly crowded and the prices in the area are very high, at American and European levels. Some people working in customer service are also totally fed up with foreigners, and they let you know it. In sum, it was not our cup of tea but we did enjoy the film-making and socialising with the hostel staff.

From Manuel Antonio we headed towards Nicaragua via San José. It was Easter week, Semana Santa, so the traffic was heavy because also the locals rushed to the beaches with their huge picnic and beach gears. As a result, the capital San José was almost empty. It was inhabited only by the homeless who obviously had no possibility to go on a beach holiday.

Downtown streets were like New York suburbs: people were sleeping side side under their blankets and cardboards. This dark side Costa Rica is something that tourists do not usually want to hear about let alone go and see it by themselves. The disempowered show, in an uncomfortable way, that the wealth tourism has brought into the country is very unevenly distributed. At the same time, everybody has to pay the high prices of food, accommodation, and health care partly resulting from the blooming tourism industry.


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