General note: Don’t bring cheaply made stuff, it will break and you’ll be stuck dealing with it. In particular, the jungle will easily dispose of low quality shit that relies on cheap adhesive.
- Download offline versions of everything before: The Internet will be way too slow to stream and load data. Here are some recommended apps:
- Download audiobooks: They are kickass for long car/bus/train rides, as well as when you’re just walking around or doing menial work.
- Bring rechargeable batteries (AA, AAA): Don’t expect non-rechargeable alkaline batteries to last in your headlamp. The heat will make the batteries deplete faster and you’ll find yourself using your headlamp more than you think. Don’t expect to buy rechargeables here, they’ll be a pain in the ass to find and will be more expensive.
- Bring your favorite condoms, a lot of them. They will almost certainly not have them in Costa Rica, and, astonishingly, they won’t have them in the jungle either. My favorites are Trojan Ecstasy and I’ve never seen them here. Fun fact for super young folks: condoms are not something you want to cheap out or compromise on. Also, keep them out of the sun and heat. I ruined my first pack by leaving them in my tent--find a dry room. Weakened condoms can equal babies, which, by most accounts, are more expensive than condoms.
- Bring antibiotic ointment – It has saved my ass when I’ve sliced myself up. There are all varieties of nasty parasites and gnarly shit that will infect you, so bring plenty of it.
- Bring all of the electronics that you’ll want. If you even manage to find what you want here, it’ll be 25-50% more expensive.
- Bring floss. Lot’s of people don’t for some reason.
- Bring an e-reader. If you don’t have one and plan on reading, get one. Physical books are heavy and take up space. I was lucky with Verde and they had a lot of quality stuff in their library, but I imagine most places would not. I love being able to update my Kindle and get my New Yorker copy.
- Bring at least one large hard drive, two if you care about saving the stuff on it permanently. I work professionally in media production so I’m pretty OCD about that kind of thing. If you plan on taking pictures or video and don’t want to risk losing your stuff, back it up. Remember, with hard drives, it’s only a question of when they’ll fail, not if. Get a nice size one (1 TB+), as you will need enough space for large movie files because you will not be able to steam movies here.
- Runners: bring high quality, durable trail running shoes. Heat and humidity will tear apart poorly made stuff (see my Pearl Izumi's below).
Stores ~1 jillion books.
Forget the cloud.
Root canal anyone?
Cheaper than babies.
Nuke those parasites.
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- Run or jog past large animals. Stop and walk. On a recent run, I had an encounter with a cow where it first just started running away from me, then I caught up to it on a steep grade and it got pissed, turned around, and charged me back down the hill. I got out of the way, but not before slicing up my body pretty nicely on a rocky, gravel road. Be especially careful if there are young animals with their mothers, they are not to be fucked with. Just stop and walk and they’ll be chill.
- Leave food in your tent. None. Don’t do it. The ants will find a way in. I assure you. They ate three nice holes in the bottom of my tent. So no, keeping it zipped up will not keep insects out if you have food in it (they might get in anyway, but don’t give them an incentive).
- Stay in the sun for any longer than you have to, even if you’re not sensitive to the sun. My skin doesn’t burn (I somehow got Mediterranean genes from a Russian and a Brit, go figure), but it will get really irritated and itchy after a few days of extended sunlight.
- Bring a lot of warm clothes if you just plan on staying in the jungle area. Anything more than a light flannel will be overkill. I brought Merino wool stuff and it’s basically been useless.
- Bring a lot of extra shit. Only bring stuff you really think you’ll use. Part of the fun and learning experience of living out here is figuring out how little you really need.