The Hippie Palace

Sometimes you just have to use your imagination to make a bad situation bearable.

Our weekend adventure in Puerto Viejo was interesting to say the least. We arrived in the town after a five hour bus ride tired and ready to collapse into the relative comfort of our Airbnb.

An Airbnb we found weeks prior. An Airbnb we were so excited to stay in because of one exciting feature—the treehouse.

From the pictures on the Airbnb website we could see it would be an adventure and an expierience we wouldn’t forget.

We definitely will never forget it.

The moment we walked up we were concerned. The entrance was overgrown and crawling with lizards.

See the small hole in the plants to the right? Next to the cart and the sign? Thats the entrance.

We walked through with growing levels of concern and were greeted by a shirtless and shoeless frenchman who introduced himself as Martin (MAR-teen).

Martin was really nice and showed us where we could store our bags. Normally in Costa Rica you’ll have a locker where you can store your stuff so it’s safe, but here we just threw our bags under a shelf in a hall.

I gulped down my discomfort and shoved my bag under the shelf. I chose to keep my most valuable things with me all the time in my backpack.

The whole place reeked of body odor and cigarette smoke. In fact, all of Puerto Viejo reeked of body and cigarette smoke. Martin showed us the bathroom and some of the girls in my group almost bolted.

It was disgusting. We found a mouse in the shower a couple nights later. Not to mention the door to the toilet had lattice work on it, which made it very easy to see into the bathroom.

Later, someone placed a beach blanket over the see-through part of the door.

Martin walked us over to the kitchen, which reeked of rotting fruit and showed us part of their cacoa farming business. He offered a cacoa nib to each of us and we eagerly bit into it.

I’ve had cocoa before so I was expecting the bitter nutty taste, but several of the girls in my group were expecting chocolate. They weren’t very happy.

He showed us their homemade water filtration system, the handmade paper, and extended the invitation to paint and do various workshops with us.

Then he explained how the electricity in half the hostel didn’t work and how the WIFI likely wouldn’t work either.

After our tour was finished we dropped off our stuff and headed to somewhere with air conditioning, smoothies and internet for a much needed break to digest what had just happened.

We were unwilling to lose the money we had already spent on our three night stay and spend additional money somewhere else, so we did what we had to. We sucked it up and made the best out of it.

We kept telling ourselves how similiar the whole experience was to camping and we were just panicking because we weren’t expecting it.

Once, we told ourselves, we came to terms with the situation it would get better.

The two inch pads on the floor that served as mattresses were awful and covered in bugs, but it was better than sleeping on the floor.

The bug nets were covered in holes, but we patched them with medical tape I found in my emergency kit (thanks mom).

The meals they made were always two hours late, but breakfast was freaking delicious and everything was vegan.

The bathrooms had all sorts of critters in them, but at least they had running water.

The people who lived there smoked cigarettes and weed until early in the morning below us, but they were some of the friendlist people I met the whole weekend.

The owners fought every day and swore at each other like no one was around, but the woman, Kat, always made sure we had “free love.” She had a little bowl of notes with happy sayings on them and made sure we all got one every day.

The cat slept on our beds, but it probably kept the mice and giant spiders away.

The floor of the tree house had gaps and bent when you walked on it, but it was so freaking cool. It was built by an indiginous family that lives in Puerto Viejo so you knew the expierience was authentic.

And the whole place made you feel dirty and uncomfortable, but it made you appreciate the cleanliness and comfort of home.

The bed me and my cousin had to share.

It was the perfect place for people very comfortable with nature. It was, as one of my friends so rightly called it, a hippie palace.

We ended up leaving a night early because one of my other friends picked a fight with the ocean and lost. She ended up with whiplash and a concussion, but she’s ok now.

We also took off because we were confident there were bed bugs. I still have little red bumps everywhere.

Plus the mosquitos would sneak into your bug net, suck your blood while you were sleeping, and then be trapped with you until you work up and squished them.

Beta Life Eco Proyecto is the perfect place for people wanting to escape the materialistic and meat eating world we live in.

There you can live off the land, not wear your shoes and forget about showering for months. You can smoke all the weed you want and enjoy the company of people who have traveled the world.

For me though, Beta Life Eco Proyecto was nothing short of educational. It strengthened my resolve to be positive in the worst of circumstances and reminded me just how priveliged I really am.

So thank you to Martin and Kat, the hostel isn’t for me, but it taught me something I’ll never forget.

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