We didn't do Costa Rica justice, there's no doubt about it. It isn't Costa Rica's fault, but a lot of travellers spend less time here than they'd originally planned, as it's an expensive place that stands out among its neighbours as a massive tourist hole. In the end, we were no exception.
It wasn't the expense that got to us, but the lack of value for money. We felt ripped off all the time in Costa Rica, because we've seen similar things in other countries, but without the high price tags and without the crowds of tourists. Costa Rica is a great destination if you're on a short holiday, but it isn't so great if you're travelling through the whole of Central America, and it had the astonishing effect of making us nostalgic for Nicaragua, which we'd left only a few days before with a sense of relief.
Our frustration lasted to the end. At the airport in San José, you have to pay a departure tax in cash, which we knew about, but we assumed we'd pay at the check-in desk. There were no signs anywhere telling us what to do, so we queued for the check-in, only to find that we had to pay the tax at the other end of the airport first, and then check in. So we dragged our bags to the snaking queue at the other end of the airport, where we had to pay US$29 each in cash, and dragged them back to the check-in, thinking all the time that this is Costa Rica in a nutshell: extra charges pop up everywhere that are inconvenient and not insignificant. By the time we finally got onto our flight, which was delayed because the airline 'had a lot of planes going today', we were itching to leave.
But it would be churlish to blame Costa Rica for all this. It is what it is, and in the end we just weren't in the mood for a long trip in an overpriced tourist destination. I'd originally planned a month here; instead we managed nine days, and we decided to leave after just five. That's the good thing about travelling; if you don't like where you are, you can always move on, and that's precisely what we did... and without an ounce of regret.