When it comes to ways to mess up vacations, thinking too much is high on the list.
During visits to Costa Rica, my wife’s homeland, that‘s especially true for me. Now that we’ve returned from what we hope becomes an annual trip, there has been time to reflect on thoughts that threaten my enjoyment of paradise.
Most vacation spots are more enjoyable with a bit of knowledge about their history and culture, but that’s a mixed bag for me in Central America.
American geographic illiteracy has one upside for my family: it probably keeps a few more tourists away from beautiful Costa Rica.
That’s my wife’s homeland and a place we’ll try to make an annual destination, both as my in-laws age and for the sake of our kids learning Spanish. Frequently, I encounter friends and acquaintances who confuse the country with Puerto Rico.
While I’ve heard lots of great things about the latter, I think I’ll keep taking my opportunities to visit Costa Rica, which is just north of Panama on the isthmus joining Central America to South America.
It’s tough to beat the combination of natural beauty and friendly, happy people – Ticos, as they are called, are generally ranked among the top five happiest cultures in the world, and have often been ranked No. 1 in that category.
If you’re one of those rare souls who aren’t connected all the time but have yearned for a good electronic atlas, MAPS.ME may be the next best thing.
MAPS.ME gives wonderful detail and has a useful search function. (Sorry for the dark image — used another new app, Mobizen, for capturing the screen image but haven’t quite mastered the details.)
I’m one of the few who have yet to adopt a smartphone, but I do rely on my Nexus 10 tablet for a few things during travel. The offline atlas that I’ve wished for may be here in its closest form with this Android app.
MAPS.ME is available for free in the Google Play store. I also found it in Amazon’s Andoid App Store, but not the iTunes Store.
I’ve always been a hard-copy map guy. The size and detail of an atlas or a laminated foldup map appeal to me far more than the miniature, highly focused capsules of the world given to us in a standard GPS screen, and I’ve seen too many folks who are slaves to their GPS while being completely unaware of their surroundings. Continue reading