Currently, the temperature is barely above freezing where I live. Believe it or not, that’s WARM. Last week it was literally -20 degrees. #notcool (I swear, if I didn’t love my job I’d absolutely move to a warmer climate.)
So, in an effort to get away from the cold (at least, mentally escape it) I’m hitting y’all with a recap of my trip to Costa Rica last year! My job is awesome because on your five-year anniversary, you are awarded a sabbatical: four weeks (paid) to take a trip to anywhere in the world you haven’t been before–with a companion! I chose to use half of my sabbatical to take this vacation to Costa Rica with the woman I love above all others, my wonderful mother! It really was the trip of a lifetime–Mom and I had a spectacular time experiencing the “pura vida” (pure life) spirit of Costa Rica and its people. My mother is the most spectacular person I know–I owe EVERY OUNCE of success I’ve had in life to her–and I wanted to show her my appreciation with an international adventure.
This post is the first in a series, so look for additional updates over the next couple of weeks. But, for now, let’s start at the beginning…
Day 1: Arrival day in San Jose!
Mom and I met up in Atlanta to take the flight to Costa Rica. Airports are usually pretty boring, but for some reason we had a few funny interactions while we were there.
First, Mom got a complement from an airport worker on her smile. After she said “thank you” (as a good Southern woman does) the airport worker asks loudly, “Who yo dentist is?!?” This tickled her because she was not expecting to be asked for a dental referral (since usually dudes ask for a lady’s phone number instead).
Second, we discovered we were wearing the same pants–yoga pants with mesh cutouts. #likemotherlikedaughter #goodstylerunsinthefamily
When we landed in San Jose, we did so under gray skies, but that didn’t make us any less excited to be there! As we made our way to customs, I got to bust out my high school Spanish with “Donde esta el bano?” or “Where is the bathroom?” Throughout the trip, many friendly Costa Ricans let me practice my terrible Spanish on them (and I really appreciated that they didn’t laugh at me).
Our travel agent arranged a shuttle from the airport to our hotel, which was about 30 minutes away. Our driver, a young guy with skinny sweatpants and braces, welcomed us and gave us our itinerary for the week. We definitely over-tipped him because not only was he friendly, he safely got us to our hotel.
The hotel was fantastic! The lobby and room were so nice, and the staff were very accommodating. After getting checked in, we settled down in the room with some Chinese takeout. We couldn’t get too comfortable though, as the next day we headed to the first town on our tour…
Day 2: Journey to Tortuguero!
After a good night’s sleep, we woke up early to pack up and head to our next destination, Tortuguero. The hotel had a delicious continental breakfast, which included the best fresh pineapple I’ve ever put in my mouth and gallopinto, a tasty rice and bean dish. I later learned that gallopinto is a traditional Costa Rican breakfast food–it was served at every single location we went to for breakfast! (After the trip, I attempted to make gallopinto myself–my version was nowhere near as good as the real stuff.) We also had a few cups of the BEST FREAKIN’ COFFEE I’VE EVER TASTED. Seriously–I don’t even drink coffee and I was gulping that stuff down like water.
It was a good thing we caffeinated with all that delicious coffee too, because the bus ride to Tortuguero was longggggg. We actually had to take a longer route because the main road was washed out (due to the rainy season). But the lengthy trip wasn’t terrible, because we got to see lots of tiny towns in the countryside.
The lengthy trip wasn’t over with the bus ride either–after we got off the boat, we grabbed our luggage and traveled by boat to get to our hotel.
Once we got off the boat and got our luggage unpacked, we went on a hike (which was really more of a nature walk) . The hike couldn’t have taken more than an hour, but during that time we saw:
- Howler monkeys
- Spider monkeys
- Land crabs
- Bullet ants
- Baby lizards
- Tons of cool plants
- Golden spiders
When I tell y’all we were in the jungle, WE WERE IN THE JUNGLE. Our hotel was actually built inside a national park! There was no internet in the room, no TV in the room, and NO AIR CONDITIONING in the room, but it was so neat to be right there in the middle of the jungle. Mom and I were sweating our faces off, but were so thrilled with all the animals we got to see. After dinner and a shower, we headed to bed to prepare for our first full day in Tortuguero.
Day 3: Tortuguero!
Weirdest wake up call ever–monkeys! Yes, Mom and I were woken up by howler monkeys, well, howling. It was strange but cool at the same time–who can say they used live howler monkeys as an alarm clock? Apparently those monkeys wanted an early breakfast, because they woke us up veryyyyyyy early. Not a problem though–we got up, had breakfast (and more delicious coffee) and took a boat tour through the canals of Tortuguero.
The boat tour was just as cool as the hike we took the previous day. On the boat tour, we saw:
- More monkeys
- More lizards (including a Jesus Christ lizard!)
- Tons of cool birds
- A crocodile (which was so close it could have jumped into the damn boat)
Our tour guide was so awesome, and the boat driver was too–they made sure to point out all the interesting animals and plants so we could take lots of pictures.
After our boat tour, the adventure continued with…zip lining! Zip lining was hot (heat rises, and we were up in the treetops), scary (at least for me, because I’m afraid of heights), and FUN! Mom was really good at it too! She made it through the course like it was nothing!
After zip lining, we headed into the village to do some shopping. We bought some ice cream and snacks, and I picked up a few postcards for folks back home. We also saw vendors selling fresh coconut water, jewelry, and souvenirs. Also, there were so many adorable dogs everywhere (off leash).
The final activity of the day was an hour-long massage in the spa. Now, earlier I mentioned our room did not have air conditioning. And after all the adventuring we did, we were super hot. The humidity was out of control too, which made the heat feel even hotter! Mom and I thought, surely the spa will have air conditioning–we can get a massage *and* beat the heat for a little while!
Come to find out, the spa did NOT have air conditioning. In fact, it was COMPLETELY OUTDOORS. #weweresowrong The spa did have some high-powered ceiling fans, so we were still able to beat the heat and enjoy our massages even without air conditioning. 🙂
Relaxed after our massages, we enjoyed dinner with the other folks in our tour group. We dined with two gentlemen from the Netherlands (in Costa Rica for the surfing!) and a couple from the Caribbean too. A dog also joined us for dinner–I think he belonged to the front desk manager–and he patiently sat next to us (hoping for snacks I guess).
After the meal, as we were walking back to our bungalow, we saw an armadillo! It was hanging out near the bushes outside the bungalow, and ran away before we could snap a picture. I’ve never seen an armadillo in real life–that sucker was big and fast! Even with the excitement of running into an armadillo, we fell asleep quickly after our action-packed day.
Day 4: Journey to La Fortuna!
Our time in Tortuguero drew to a close, so we packed our bags and began the next leg of our tour. Next stop, La Fortuna!