While providing cheap and accessable lodging to travelers, hostels are also an opportunity to build friendships with people from all over the world. Of course, every hostel is different— the Monteverde Hostel Lodge was basically a log cabin hotel with shared bedrooms, while Rocking J´s at Puerto Viejo was a large tin roof where we slept in hammocks—but all hostels I have visited have relaxed, friendly atmospheres.
My favorite thing about staying in hostels is exchanging advice with other travelers. When I meet people that are traveling through Central America on a different itenerary than I am, I ask them what cities, attractions, and restaurants they recommend. While I was staying at the Backpackers Hostel at Manuel Antonio beach, my roommate told told me her favorite trails to hike in the National Park, and suggested a hostel in Monte Verde to me. Since she was headed to San José, I was able to recommend bars and cafés that she should visit. Although we will likely never see each other again, I am grateful that our paths crossed so that we could share stories and advice from our individual journeys.
Many students are wary of hostels because one risk of sharing a room with strangers is theft. I was fortunate not to experience hostel theft during any of my travels, but my advice is to carry a lock. Most hostels have lockers where you can leave your luggage during the day. Another stereotype is that hostels are unclean. In my experience, hostels are cleaned daily and fresh linens are always provided. For a clean, safe place to stay and the chance to make new friends, ten to fifteen dollars a night is a pretty great deal.
Tico Viajero at Veritas offers many exciting excursions to various beaches, islands, and other attractions in Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua. The excursions often include activities like snorkeling or ziplining, and are a great way to experience more of Central America. However, if you have the chance, I highly encourage you to spend a weekend travelling independently of the University, because it´s necessary to leave the Veritas ¨bubble¨ to truly immerse yourself in the culture here. While building friendships in hostels, you will also build your own sense of independence, broaden your horizons, and make many wonderful memories of Costa Rica.