Thursday, March 27, 2014

Costa Ricky

At the end of February, I finally parted ways with Transamerica. I won't miss the work or the politics, but the people were hard to say goodbye to. But onward and upward! I'm now officially on funemployment and amping up for the next stage of my professional life.

But before starting that, I took March 2014 off to relax; to detox. And for 9 days, Greg and I took our first trip abroad and visited Costa Rica!

On the first day we drove to Poàs Volcano and looked into it as it spewed smelly sulfuric gas. Then on the way to Arenal National Park, we witnessed how crazy the drivers are in Costa Rica. The SUV in front of us lost control and swerved left and right four times before driving off the road and into a ditch, hitting a tree. We pulled over to see if anyone was hurt. People from the house nearby ran down to help. Other cars pulled over and called for help. But no one spoke English so we weren't much help. As we left the scene, we were surprised to see a quick response from an ambulance. This happened in the middle of a long windy stretch of road in the middle of the mountains!

When we got to Arenal, it was a clear day and we were able to see the entire Arenal Volcano, peak and all. And after that, never again. Clouds came in to stay for the 3 days we were staying there.

We ended up staying in a neighboring town 30 minutes away called El Castillo. The only way to get there is by a bumpy unpaved road of jagged rocks. We had a Yaris that didn't seem equipped for this road, but since we got the full coverage on the rental, we vowed to drive the shit out of that car.. and we did.

While in Arenal, we ziplined in an ecopreserve with a company just out of La Fortuna called Arenal Mundo Adventura. It was amazing zipping over La Fortuna waterfall. Exhilarating!

That night we went to Los Lagos hot springs and resort for a little R&R after getting all greasy gross from ziplining in the rain/rainforest. It was nice just soaking in a warm natural spring pool.

The next day we went white water rafting in class II/III rapids with a company called Desafio. This company was outstanding. The excursion was so well put together. Everything about the adventure had a profound focus on comfort, safety, and fun. The rafting was so much fun and probably my favorite thing we did on the trip.

The next day we drove to Manuel Antonio for the relaxation portion of the trip. But before that, we crossed through San Ramon and stopped at an old abandoned bridge (Old Colorado River bridge) so that I could bungee jump! After seeing photos online, I told myself that if I ever did it it would have to be off this bridge over the river surrounded by rainforest. After the adventures we had leading up to this, I felt fearless and ready. I actually did it! I took the plunge, swan dive style, 265 feet drop! I think skydiving is still scarier, but this was frightening because you're all alone. And my ankle got a little injured, but I would totally do it again.

Then on to our beach portion. In Manuel Antonio, we hung out and ate a lot at Cafe Milagro. Our hotel (Villas el Parque) was perfectly located. We were able to walk to a lot of eateries. We drove a short distance to the national park and hung out on two beaches that were back-to-back from each other. And the water was so warm and nice. We were invaded by monkeys and a raccoon!

The other thing we did in Manuel Antonio was a half day catamaran excursion. It was a nice relaxing boating tour with snorkeling, dolphin watching, water slide, jumping off the top of the catamaran, delicious fish kabob dinner, and sunset viewing. It was amazing. We had seen the sunset the night before from a nice restaurant at La Mariposa hotel. Two stunning sunsets in two nights. Pura vida!

Then we drove through Tarcoles to see some crocodiles to, what Greg called, hell.. aka San Jose. It wasn't that it was that bad, but it was city life with lots of traffic and not paradise. We stayed in a very bad neighborhood in a resort that felt like a locked down prison with security gate and high walls. But it was actually rather nice inside. For our one day stay, we took a day tour to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean Sea side. It included a horribly long drive on rough unpaved road through a banana plantation. Once we got to the national park, we took a speedy boat along the river to view animals and visit a small town within the park. It felt very much like the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland. We saw a lot of monkeys and a lot of birds. The exciting thing for us was we got to dip our feet in the Caribbean Sea. The drive back to San Jose was horrendous. I don't think I'll be doing this tour again.

Then it was beers back at the hotel and we woke up super early for our early flight home. I had such an amazing adventure with my boyfriend and can't wait till our next trip. I'm ready for Europe!