Travel: Costa Rica

Get yourself a glass of wine and some cheese and crackers. I’ll try not to get too wordy, but our trip in Costa Rica was amazing. It is such a beautiful country that’s a little rough around the edges. These pictures are from my camera phone and in no way does it do any justice.

If you haven’t already, be sure to get caught up here on The Peace Lodge, which was our first stop. The Peace Lodge is on the same grounds as the La Paz Waterfall and Gardens, so everything was in walking distance. There was so much to see, that unfortunately, we ran out of time to hike their trails to see all the waterfall. The one we got married at was the only one we saw and was the first time we saw it. We saw mostly the animal sanctuary, which for one reason or another cannot be released back into the wild.

Yes, that toucan is sitting on Jon’s arm. I had at first expected their claws to hurt and for them to have some weight to them, but they had been gentle and weighed-quite literally- like a feather. We were also able to offer some food. They seemed partial to the cheese. What’s funny though is that one of the caretakers called them chickens. He didn’t really elaborate on it.

Can you spot the humming bird? The humming bird garden was gorgeous and actually pretty busy. These guys were zooming all over the place, but never came close to hitting us. Most of them were also bigger than the ones we see here in the States. It was a joy to sit and watch them zip around. Feeding time is offered at a certain time. We missed it, but got an awesome opportunity for our wedding photos.

That’s a mountain lion- or rather a Puma. There were a quite a few of them in separate spaces.

The Jaguars were too cool and much bigger in person than I expected. They would definitely be taller than me if they were standing on their back legs. They’re very powerful looking, much like a tiger.

This is the orchid garden. Even though not much was in bloom, it was still beautiful.

Can you see the tree frog? I didn’t realize that they could hang on like that.

Yeah, they actually have two legs, keeping one propped up.

These guys look like moths at first, but if you see the wings of the one on the far left, they open up to a brilliant blue. I just wasn’t lucky enough to capture one with its wings completely spread out.

There was also a section for snakes. There are actually quite a lot of snakes in this country- both venomous and non-venomous, as well as frogs. Taz loves chasing after frogs, so I’m glad he doesn’t live here.

On our way to the second hotel, we stopped at a coffee plantation- the Doka Estate. I believe it’s one of the biggest working coffee plantation. It was actually a very fascinating tour. Jon enjoyed it much more than either of us expected as tours are not usually his sort of thing.

These are the coffee plants. I found it interesting that they plant other plants among the coffee plant to help shelter it and to help the soil and how much water it gets.

This was one of their process where they separate out the coffee bean qualities.

This is how they dry out the coffee beans outside and preferably in the sun. As unpredictable as the weather is, they do keep close taps on it. If it rains, they just bunch it up in a pile and I think they cover it up.

How cool is this sidewalk?

The final process where they roast the coffee beans. Here you can kind of see how they’re all different. If they’re making it decaffeinated, they ship it off somewhere in Europe-I want to say Germany- and this company will extract the caffeine to sell to soda companies and others who use caffeine.

The second hotel we stayed at was called the Arenal Springs Resort, which is near La Fortuna and obviously at the base of Arenal Volcano. It last erupted in 1968 but has been quietly dormant since 2010. It was a very fortunate moment that I took a picture of the volcano when I did. The upper half had been covered by clouds for the rest of our duration there.

The Peace Lodge was about 5,oo0 feet elevation. We came a long ways down when we got to Arenal. The weather stayed so cool at the Peace Lodge that there was no need for air conditioning. The opposite could be said for the Arenal area. But, this resort was known for being pretty green. The card that you usually needed as a hotel key was also the key used to turn on electricity and air conditioner. If you left, the room is not going to be cool when you got back. If you left, everything got turned off. I’ll give them points for doing what they can to be green, but at the risk of sounding spoiled, it was a little bit of a pain trying to cool off the room.

The shower reflected an outdoor shower, though it was still inside. I don’t know my roofing materials, but it let in a lot of light.

In the above photo, you can see that it’s a swim up bar. I thought it was cool, but we never did order anything. We didn’t want to bring the credit card and leave it laying around while we were in the water. In the photo below is the hot springs. We spent a good amount of time in there. It was also one of the parts of the trips that I had been looking forward to and I enjoyed it.

Another thing I had been looking forward to was doing the zipline. For the both of us, it was our first time. The Arenal Ecoglide Canopy Tour also had what they called the Tarzan swing, which is what you see Jon doing in the photo above. It’s a little bit of a drop, but you do some swinging pretty good. I cannot wait to do some more ziplining. The view was amazing! After all, how many people can say they ziplined off a volcano?

There was an older couple that was in our zipline group who came from California, I believe. The older gentleman had said something that was pretty well said. “Costa Ricans are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, but it does not translate into their driving.” I don’t believe speeding is enforced and driving out there is an adventure in itself. The roads usually are next to either deep ditches- like you’re calling AAA for a tow out of that ditch kind of deep- or it’s next to a cliff. Stop lights were non-existent. There might have been a couple in San Jose and in one other town, but otherwise it was the wide open road. They have a lot of one way bridges. There would be practically no warning. You’d go around a curve and all of a sudden there’s a one way bridge. One way bridges would be the death of Charleston. We can barely make do with what we have now. Good thing there’s no such thing as rush hour down in Costa Rica. There were a lot of cars passing each other and aggressive driving. The mountains in Costa Rica are not like our Blue Ridge Mountains. Our Blue Ridge Mountains gradually inclines or declines in slope. Occasionally it gets steep. The mountains in Costa Rica are more like giant hills. There’s quick up and down and way more curvy roads. Seriously, it was like being on a roller coaster. We’re from South Carolina. It’s flat, y’all. That’s barely in Costa Rican’s vocabulary. We got a little car sick. But, as we’re driving by, the views in Costa Rica are stunning

This was our view from our spot at lunch at one of the hotel’s restaurant. That’s the downside to hiring out drivers. You’re a little limited in where you can go. Our driver who brought us to Arenal Springs Resort lives in La Fortuna and was pointing out all the best places to eat at. I kind of wish we were able to try one of them, but maybe next time! Anyway, you can see in the photo that the volcano is covered in clouds.

This was another hotel restaurant where we ate dinner and breakfast.

You better believe we were enjoying our tropical drinks. I also took a bite out of that starfruit. Very sour. I think this particular drink was called Sex on the Volcano- a twist on the Sex on the Beach.

On our way to Manuel Antonio, our driver (each driver was a different person) surprised us with a stop at the Tarcoles River- a heavily infected river. Our driver told us there could be as many as 1,500 crocodiles in this river alone. Jon and I took a few minutes to walk on the bridge, which was pretty high up from the river, thankfully. I mean, look at those things. These pictures still don’t even show all the bodies that the naked eye could see in person. This is not a river you want to accidentally fall into.

That was the view from one side of the bridge. I thought it seemed fitting because, although I had never been to Africa, with the crocodiles there, I felt like it could have been Africa.

Our last hotel was Hotel San Bada. As you can see, it was not a bad set up. I loved the head boards and the tree frog art. The ceiling in the photo below was pretty cool, too. But…it did not have a good smell at all. We had to sleep with the balcony door open and that still did not air out the moldy smell. Otherwise, we liked this hotel. Perfect walking distance within the beach and it’s literally next to the Manuel Antonio Park entrance.

Yeah, I think swim up bars are a popular thing in Costa Rica.

Got pretty excited to see the iguanas. This guy was pretty big.

The pictures are a little blurry because these guys move pretty fast, but these monkeys played outside our room for about an hour. That was super cool to watch.

The next day we hiked about in the national park. In the photo above, a mother deer was licking her baby. I believe it was the normal white-tailed deer.

The raccoons that we are used to in the US can also be found in Costa Rica. Who knew?

Yet more monkeys. We saw sloths a couple of times, too, but when I went back through my photos, I couldn’t find it in the actual picture. Epic fail.

You can kind of see a little bit of a sand bar leading to the island from the left. They call it Moses’ Passing. At low tide, people could walk out to that island and it would look like they were walking on water when in fact they’re walking on that sand bar.

This is the public Manuel Antonio beach. It’s still beautiful!

This was our view at the Hawg and Bill restaurant where we had a late lunch. Basically beach front. Just a few minutes before I took this picture, a guy was running this stand selling water. I think he called it a day because he never came back.

The next day was our last in Costa Rica. I was ready to get back home to see Taz and get back to some familiar things, but at the same time, I didn’t want to come back. Nobody is in a rush in Costa Rica and coming from the US, that’s a nice change of pace.

This is not a sponsored post, but I wanted to share with you that we had planned this trip with Anywhere Costa Rica. I was overwhelmed by my choices in this little country, and with their help, I was able to plan the trip. I answered a few quizzes and they threw out a few suggestions and after quite a few back and forths, we got the itinerary planned out.

Before we even left the country, Jon and I have agreed to come back for another visit in the future. Like, for an anniversary or something of the sorts. Hopefully, they’ll greet us with a drink next time, like they did at every hotel on this trip.

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