I’m sitting here reminiscing about a recent trip I took to Costa Rica with my best friend of over 15 years. We hadn’t seen each other in almost a year and planned a bucket list worthy trip to celebrate his birthday and our reunion. We spent five incredible days in a country that I can only describe as breathtaking. We traveled back to our corresponding homes last Monday, and we couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of melancholy as we looked through hundreds of photos and snacked on yucca chips waiting to board our flight back to the states.
Have you ever been on a trip that changes you in one way or another? Perhaps it was the art, culture, food, nature, etc., but something touched you so much that you actually wanted to cry because you had to leave. Don’t get me wrong, I missed my boyfriend, my sweet William, and my cozy bed, but the adventures we encountered over the last five days were incredible. Between getting lost due to the lack of street signs, getting a flat tire on the first day, bitten by a bunch of mosquitoes, attacked by bats, and hoping we didn’t step on a venomous snake walking through the rainforest, we experienced a lot of fun.
Day 1: We arrived in San Jose, picked up our rental car, and drove North to Monteverde to visit the Cloud Forest. We drove up a very steep mountain, along a narrow unpaved road, all while trying to figure out where the heck we were. On this day, we found out how useless our Google Maps were. Thankfully we were given a local map, which gave us an idea of where we needed to go.
We arrived at our cute hostel, which was a small room that resembled a tree house. We had everything we needed (especially wine!) and we began our first journey of the day, not counting the trip there. Monteverde is about 4,662 feet above sea level and between 61-64° F, which meant that I was freezing! Not really, but it was nice to be out of the humidity for a couple of days. That evening, we walked around the town of Santa Elena and had dinner at Restaurant Tree House and indulged on yucca fries and red wine.
Day 2: Woke up to a flat tire. Eric changed it quickly and we were off! We drove up to the Cloud Forest to tour the hanging bridges at Selvatura Park. We spent a couple of hours there admiring the greenery and the chirping of the local birds. The only downfall was that the weather was super clear, meaning no clouds whatsoever in the Cloud Forest. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful experience and we also worked on our fear of heights each time we walked over a new bridge.
Departing Monteverde, we soaked in the cool mountain air and grabbed coffee at Beso Espresso before beginning our 7-hour drive to the Osa Peninsula. We were looking forward to spending a few days just outside of Puerto Jimenez in our bamboo beach house. Casa Tonka is an open air home on a ten-acre beachfront property with all the privacy in the world. We arrived in the evening and almost couldn’t find the house! We quickly became aware of how unaware we were to be surrounded by jungle noises in a house without windows or doors. We used flashlights to get around and quivered at the sound of bats flying around us. It was such a scary and amazing experience for us city folk!
Day 3: We woke up to the sound of howler monkeys in the distance and macaws singing above us. We made breakfast in the well equipped kitchen, ate fresh pineapple, and sipped on Costa Rica’s finest coffee. On the property are two guard dogs who watched over us during our stay. Tonka, the beautiful dog you can see below, quickly became my favorite animal there. We walked around the property and enjoyed the private beach before we made our way to our first hike.
The sun sets around 6:00 P.M. in Costa Rica, so we coordinated our hikes earlier in the morning to take advantage of the sunlight. We hiked through a small river to a nearby waterfall where we sat in isolation with only the sounds of birds, monkeys, and water. We swam in the natural pool and splashed around under the waterfall, snacked on fruit and nuts, and took a ton of photos before making our way back. I can’t begin to explain the beauty of this place! Pictures just cannot do it justice, but nonetheless I hope I can show a bit of what we experienced.
Right after our hike, we drove up to the lovely Lapa Rios eco lodge for drinks and bird watching. Here, we listened to the echos of howler monkeys in the rainforest, as toucans and macaws flew around us. We later enjoyed dinner at the only other bar in the Matapalo area, Martina’s, where Friday nights are the most popular among tourists and locals. It was a blast!
Day 4: We woke up very early to a pretty intense storm. Luckily, it subsided and we were able to go on our second hike to the Corcovado National Park. Our guide came to our place and we drove up together, but not before stopping by a small empanada cafe (if I can call it a cafe). We drove about 45 minutes before we parked to begin the hike. We spent the entire day hiking, searching for creatures, admiring the powerful waves of the Pacific, and we even endured our first rainstorm in the rainforest! It was pretty incredible. I took so many photos, that I only posted those that were most memorable for me. For example, I was about five feet away from several coati digging for food. They looked so loveable and cuddly, but I stopped my urge to hug one. I snapped photos and took video of them eating bananas and that was good enough for me. Our guide informed us that they resemble racoons, but are far less aggressive.
We later enjoyed Eric’s birthday dinner at Lapa Rios and went over to Martina’s bar for one more drink. We got to chatting with Martina, who is originally from Germany. She excitedly told us how she left Germany 18 years ago to buy a small farm, own her own bar, and surf everyday in Matapalo. It was nice to hear her story and how she ended up in this quiet and quaint town.
Day 5: Our last day in Costa Rica :( We woke up, enjoyed breakfast, played ball on the beach with Tonka using a coconut, collected seashells, said goodbye to the bats (eeek!), and really just tried to absorb all we could before departing. We made the drive up the coast once again and headed to Atenas for one more night. Along the way, we stopped at several fruit stands to pick up mangosteens and other local fruit. We stayed at a quaint and beautiful B&B called Eden Atenas. We were exhausted and hungry and settled for pizza and drinks before hitting the sack. The next morning, we woke up to coffee, bread pudding, and fresh fruit from their garden. It was a perfect send off back to the states.
If I haven’t convinced you yet of taking a trip to Costa Rica, I don’t know what else will! This was certainly a memorable trip and one I hope to take again soon. ¡Pura Vida!