Costa Rica Part I

September 5th, 2009

Juan and I arrived in San Jose on a Saturday night. Hungry and grouchy, I insisted we get something in the hotel restaurant before they closed. I ordered the avocado and palmitos (heart of palm) salad… Out came a sliced avocado and palmitos on a bed of lettuce… I LOVE THIS COUNTRY!!!!

We spent one day in San Jose. In the morning we visited a coffee plantation and in the afternoon we walked around the city square, ducking into a cafe for dinner just as the rain started. We were in Costa Rica during the rainy season, which never bothered us in the slightest. Instead, you learn how to plan your day so that when it starts raining you are not out hiking in the middle of rain forest. Of course, this is probably the first vacation I’ve ever been on where I purposely woke up at 6am but I was never really tired and as soon as I was out looking at monkeys, wild birds, tree cutter ants and other amazing wildlife, I did not care.

The second leg of our trip took us to the Arenal Volcano, where we stayed at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, off the beaten path with the best view of the Volcano (see top picture). While there we went to hot springs, took advantage of the hiking trails around the Lodge, saw lava (or as we learned really hot rocks) spilling out of the Volcano, and went Zip Lining.  It was beautiful!

We ate a lot of fresh fruit and fish. Overall, I felt very healthy after vacation. My next two posts will go into more detail about the food. Above is Guanabana… it took me all week to figure out how to say it properly (and Juan always made me order it!) but it is my new favorite fruit. They serve it as fruit juice with breakfast. Yummy!

Our final part of the trip took us to Guanacaste… the Flamingo Beach Resort on the Pacific Ocean… For some reason, I felt like James Bond every time I walked into the resort. This was a new experience for Juan and I but I must say we enjoyed being at a resort. We would play in the ocean and then go play in the pool and back to the ocean. It was a hard life!

We took a day off from our ocean-pool schedule to go back to the rain forest for a hike with a guide. We learned a great deal about the wildlife and plants of Costa Rica plus I was able to ask him more about Costa Rican culture. One issue with Costa Rica is because it is so touristy discovering what is truly Costa Rican is difficult. When we left the resort, we were always asked if we needed a car and looked at funny when we said we would walk. But we like walking and exploring. If we didn’t walk all the way to the top of the hill to go to the really good restaurant (post to come) then we would have never seen the little hermit crab going across the street or the beautiful yellow birds in the trees.

As I’ve already mentioned, the wildlife is amazing. This iguana was just chilling by the pool. We also saw a crow like bird steal a Splenda packet off the table.  We watched a tree cutter ant cut up a leaf.  We had to wait for a Coati to cross a swinging bridge before we could cross.  Every day, we saw some new interesting animal or plant.

We loved playing in the Pacific. The water was so clear that I could stand up to my waist and see my feet.  That does not happen in North Carolina.  One day, we saw little tropical fish swimming near us. It was gorgeous. I was really sad when the week finally came to an end. Yes, we got a lot accomplished in only a week. Coming back though, I felt relaxed and very focused, exactly what I needed before school started.