When we travel we prefer to scope out our next location online or in the Lonely Planet for possible hostels. Accommodations are typically located in the same area so where there is one, there are more; sometimes we’ve been lucky to find something better by showing up to see what’s there. Plan A is to show up and look around, Plan B is to take the room that the guide book recommends and so far, we’ve never slept under a bridge because there is NO place to stay.
However, I got the feeling from speaking to a few tourists along the way here who had been through Costa Rica that many travelers reserve their entire Costa Rica trip before they leave home. This was validated when I went online to check out Cahuita on the Caribbean Coast; there wasn’t anything available. Each country is a little different and this was our first morning in Costa Rica and I wasn’t feeling very confident about being able to show up and find a hostel in Cahuita so I ‘reserved’ one online… the hostel I chose had their own booking form so I filled it in and sent it; then we headed for it. We took a chance on whether or not they got my message. I wasn’t thrilled about paying double the price of a room in Nicaragua anyway and sure enough, when we arrived they had no rooms. They didn’t turn us away but offered an overflow dorm room instead. It was a tiny room with bunkbeds,– it was hot and horrid but we were overtired from being on buses for two days and forgot our usual Plan A/B routine and just took it. After checking in we put our bags on the bottom bed then, because there was no space left to sit, we went for a walk to the beach. What a big mistake that was!
Town was mostly empty, not filled to capacity like the internet indicated and not two blocks away was a sweet little family run hotel called “Cabinas Palmer”. It advertised free access to the kitchen, cable TV, wifi, plus fruit and toast for breakfast. It was even closer to the National Park too! We went to the front desk and called out ‘hello’ to see if we could view a room before booking it. No answer. We ventured into the dining area and called out ‘hello’. No answer. We checked out a room; the door was open anyway! Just as we were leaving I heard someone through an outside door and so I poked my head in. Inside was a round woman with burgundy hair, sitting behind a sewing machine. ‘Yes, I has rooms!’ we talked a little more and the price was only $20. We moved first thing the next morning.
We actually settled in… This is one of the blessings of not having an itinerary. Once in a while you come across a place that just feels right and if you’ve preplanned your entire stay you may not be able to extend your stay.