Costa Rica Was Amazing

Sometimes you have an experience which is so amazing that you have to take a step back, wait, and let everything gel in your mind before you can talk about it.1

As I write this, I am in the process of uploading close to 1,000 photos and videos to a new
Flickr account. With any luck, the images and the text you are reading right now will be posted on the same day. With a lot of luck, that day will be today.

The Mrs and I took our first big vacation in almost half a decade last month. She had absolutely no idea where we were going.
2 I managed to keep our destination a secret right up to the point where the less than helpful individual at Spirit’s baggage check in area3 announced “San Jose, Costa Rica” loud enough for everyone in the concourse to hear, despite both of us asking her not to.

Side Note: It was actually quite a pain in the ass to keep this from her for as long as I did. I had things planned out for months in advance, but all that she knew was that we were going some place warm. She didn’t even know that we were taking a plane until we were half way to the airport. I told her to pack for warm weather and had her buy some new sandals. For the week before we left, her mantra was “If I find out you switched out my shorts for warm clothes and that we are actually going someplace cold I am going to cry all week.”

We stayed at
Villas de Oros, a beautiful collection of rooms on the Pacific side of Costa Rica which backed up to a nature preserve. We had a two and a half hour drive from San Jose, but it was definitely worth it. The area was lovely, we spent hours on our balcony taking pictures of the wildlife4, and the proprietress Vikki Gold was incredibly helpful. She directed us to some great locations, arranged tours and dinner reservations, and even pointed out the sloth in the trees.

Each day brought new experiences. Our first full day was spent at the beach, swimming in the ridiculously warm ocean,
5 taking photographs of the waves, and exploring caves that were only accessible during low tide. Part of the fun there was to see how far out into the ocean we were willing to go in the caves. We spent the afternoon hiking, then had a lovely sunset dinner on the beach.

Day Two was the only other day that I had planned anything, and it was the one thing I was most likely to back out of. We started off with some off roading6 to get us to a set of waterfalls. From there we went to a closed resort which was the staging area for our zip-line tour of the rainforest canopy. I am not a fan of heights. I figured my chances of chickening out were an even 50-50, right up to the point where they first hooked me up on the line. After that I was having way too much fun.

Our main guide, Yvves, took us on a private walking tour while we were waiting for the other participants. He showed us a cinnamon tree, told the legend behind a leaf shaped like an ear, explained how maracas were made, and generally went above and beyond what you would expect from an adventure guide. During the walk between zip-lines he spoke about the area, the flora and fauna, and told jokes.

On Day Three we took a boat tour of the mangrove swamp. It was just The Mrs and I and our guide. We putted along in a covered boat (which we later uncovered so we could take better photos), snapping pictures of birds, monkeys, and amphibians. Our guide (sorry, I can’t remember his name), had a remarkable eye for detail and an encyclopedic knowledge of the wildlife. He got us to within feet, sometimes within inches, of the various animals and allowed us to stay as long as we wanted. On a few occasions he even stepped out of the boat to take pictures for us.

We had a wonderful time on our trip. The area in which we stayed is slowly getting more tourists, so the roads were well maintained. People went out of their way to help us, despite the occasional language barrier. There is a small enclave of US, Canadian, and Dutch ex pats who own some of the businesses. All of them work with the local restaurant owners to create an inviting community for visitors.

1 Other times you are sick as Hell, behind on everything, and don’t have a chance to talk about it in your blog until almost a month later.

2 This is OK for her because she actually likes surprises. I would
not have enjoyed this, had the sandals been on the other feet.

3 More on them in another post.

4 See the previously mentioned Flickr account.

5 My formative years spent swimming in the frigid waters of Lake Superior did not prepare me for swimming in the bath water warm Pacific.

6 My knuckles are still white from driving.