Our latest Victorinox JetSetter is Joe Baur, an author, writer and filmmaker currently living in Costa Rica. Joe is all about sharing authentic experiences, and we’re lucky enough he’s agreed to share some with us! Read on for Joe’s travel tales from Costa Rica to Switzerland.
How long have you been living in Costa Rica? Can you tell us more about what you’re doing there?
I’ve been in Costa Rica since August 14, 2014—although with all of our travels outside of the country to El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, and back home for the holidays, we have probably lost a month in Costa Rica somewhere in the mix. However long it adds up to, our little apartment in Ciudad Colón feels like home now.
Costa Rica came about for a variety of reasons. My wife and I were looking to live abroad. Our first choice was Switzerland, but my brother recommended Costa Rica after having spent a semester living in Heredia during his college years. Improving our Spanish also struck us as a little more valuable. That’s no knock on German or French, though. I’m currently butchering my way through German with plans to decimate French in the future.
Another motivator to moving abroad was to expand my travel coverage. We wanted to be someplace where everything around us was new and I could create editorial and video travel content. Central America has been a perfect location to make this happen. We have worked our way through El Salvador, Guatemala, northern Panama, across Costa Rica, and I just hopped down to Panama City. I am also hoping to squeeze in a quick jaunt up to Nicaragua before I leave Costa Rica in June. The result has been a ton of new video and editorial content as well as the workings of a travel memoir that, if published, will hopefully give readers a better insight into this incredible region, with a few laughs at our expense along the way.
Now that you’re practically a local, what are some of your top travel stops in Costa Rica?
We still have northwestern Guanacaste, the Osa Peninsula, Braulio Carrillo, Monteverde and Tortuguero to explore over the next couple of months, but this list could very easily change in that time. Two days ago we returned from the La Fortuna, Arenal area, which was just fantastic. It’s probably the corner of Costa Rica I most want to return to, specifically for road cycling and for a drier day to take on hiking Cerro Chato. We were also pleasantly surprised by the Orosi Valley, which had similar adventure opportunities as Arenal, but without the tourism. A hotel manager took us on a great hike that he helped create to an incredible waterfall that was unlike anything we’ve done in Costa Rica. We didn’t see a single tourist the entire day. It was fantastic.
What is your most memorable travel experience; good and/or bad?
Switzerland and El Salvador. Switzerland was great because of how easily you could get around the entire country without a car. Everything was accessible from nature to the cities and small towns in between. It was the first time I thoroughly enjoyed the act of traveling within a country. It left quite an impression on me and I’m currently studying German in hopes of being welcomed there one day. Bitte!
El Salvador ranks up there because of how many people encouraged us not to go. Of course none of the people who told us not to go or strongly warned us against it had actually ever been. Our goal was to find a different side of the country, one that doesn’t come across in international news coverage. Yes, they have their problems, but we felt perfectly safe traveling throughout the country for a week. We met people eager to share their story about life in El Salvador. I can’t wait to go back and I hope others consider checking it out for themselves.
Do you have any documentaries in the works?
I’m constantly working on new travelogues that serve as short travel documentaries. We’re about to release El Salvador and Lake Atitlán. In the meantime, I’ll be working on Antigua, Lake Arenal, another from Switzerland, and inevitably a few more from our upcoming travels across Costa Rica. I’ll also be in Germany in early June covering the Berlin Wall bike trail, so that means another travelogue.
Once you wrap up in Costa Rica, where are you off to next?
I’ll be heading up to Minnesota to write a couple of books: Best Adventures Near Minneapolis and St. Paul and Best Hikes Near Minneapolis and St. Paul — both for Falcon Guides, whom I published Best Hikes Near Cleveland with. And yes, that was a shameless plug.
I’m particularly excited about Best Adventures. It’ll be the first in a new series of guidebooks, combining various adventures such as mountain and road cycling, paddling and hiking, with many destinations accessible by bike or public transit. The goal is to keep you out of a car as much as possible.
That should take place from August to September, after which I’ll have some assignments in North America to tend to, and—I hope I’m not jinxing it—another possible book opportunity that will take me back to my beloved Switzerland. I love Switzerland, if that wasn’t clear already.
Stay tuned for the second installment of Joe Baur’s JetSetter post same time next week where he shares his top 3 travel must-haves and his cycling journeys through Cleveland and Switzerland!
To learn more and connect with Joe, visit joebaur.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @BaurJoe