The Secrets to a 5 Bar Connection in Rural Costa Rica

A rotting log supports wildlife growth in the forest.You find yourself hiking at the Hacienda Baru Wildlife Rescue in Costa Rica. The protected forest is turning out to be quite a scene; only five minutes into the hike and you are entranced with the sounds that raw nature has in store.

You look up and spot a three-toed sloth hanging on a tree, and as you glance a second time, you notice that it’s a mama sloth. Her youngling is hugging tight onto her belly. Suddenly you feel something crawling on your feet. You look down and there are hundreds of huge Hormiga ants marching single file onto your foot.  You are experiencing so much and you want to share the essence of the moment with your closest thousand friends on social media.  To do that you take out your phone, but you realize that you have zero service. How can you obtain a strong 5 bar connection? Well, unfortunately I am no cellphone expert, but I know a thing or two about having a strong connection with nature and living in the moment.  The following is a small guide that will help you experience Costa Rica closer to the way the locals experience it. These tips helped me feel more connected with the pura vida lifestyle while I was in country.

Here are three things you can do to successfully have a strong 5 bar connection in Costa Rica.

  1. Turn Off Your Cell Phone

On my recent trip to Costa Rica this first step was the most crucial for me to take in everything that the beautiful country had to offer. This allowed my attention to be on the experience rather than on a small 3×5 screen. Try disconnecting from all the distractions that fill your busy life back home. This is your time to unwind and to open your mind to experience a different kind of HD.

Group conversing around candle-lit tables.
A snapshot of the group at our night in the jungle: a perfect example of letting yourself be a part of nature. There was no electricity, so our only source of light were candles and flashlights.


  1. Explore Beyond the Tourist Areas

As relaxing as it sounds to watch the sunset out of your five star hotel balcony, I challenge you to do something aside from the regular tourist stuff. Drive away from the high end restaurant/hotel radius and head toward a more adventurous route. For me some of these adventures consisted of:

The author dancing with a local gentleman.
Dancing the afternoon away at Plaza de los Mangos on our first day in Costa Rica. I was asked to dance with this gentlemen, and it turned out to be so fun!
  • Hiking down a hidden trail to a magnificent river
  • Partaking in a community pig roast
  • Practicing my dance moves with some very talented Ticos!
  • Reading books at the local library
  • Playing an improvised game of soccer at the local field.
  • Taking ecotours of various farms

With all these experiences, you’ll hardly have time to think about who liked your status or whether or not someone has responded to your email. For once these mundane factors will seems foolish because you will be experiencing a different form of living. The Ticos have a phrase that encapsulates this way of living… “pura vida”!


  1. Talk to locals: Ask Questions and Be Curious

The author with Brayan, Spanish teacher at the local High School.
A picture of me and Profesor Brayan, the local high school teacher.

Feel like talking to someone? Don’t be shy, talk to the locals! You’d be surprised at how friendly people can be. The Ticos have vivacious stories to tell, and you always learn something new from them. One of my favorite conversations was with the local high school teacher, Brayan. He had so much knowledge about his country, and the way he expressed himself through words really captured my attention. Our talks would range from silly customs to talking about fundamental issues within schooling. I learned not only more about Costa Rica, but I formulated an opinion about various topics that surround the area. You can learn so much from these conversations, and for me personally, these moments are the ones I keep closest to my heart.

Additional Tips:

Throughout your exploration take a moment each night to reflect on the day. Start by assessing what your highlights of the day were, progress to asking if you learned anything new, then formulate questions for the next day. Writing in a journal after reflections makes it easy for you to track your thoughts, experiences, and questions. Write as little or as much as you want, but more than anything, write about the details. The smallest things, like, what the night sounds like, or what you had for dinner can soon be forgotten, so make sure to jot it all down so you can remember later on.

Group meeting for reflection on the yoga deck.
Every night, the whole team would gather at the yoga lounge for reflection and to wrap up the day.

Lastly, you do not need to be in Costa Rica to take advantage of this amazing 5 bar experience. If you live near Irvine one of my favorite places to visit is Laguna Beach. I challenge you to go out there and explore the nature that surrounds your hometown.  Follow these three tips, and see what happens in the process. Good luck!


Cecilia Mora.