Since we covered Iceland last week, I figured it would only be fair to switch over to somewhere tropical – especially if you’re on the east coast like me and it’s starting to get chilly. Costa Rica is a nearby getaway that’s full of sunshine and smiles. It’s also full of crazy, banana-wielding monkeys, wild horses and mountain lions.
Every year my family and I take a trip together – all 20+ of us. As you can imagine, we are a big ball of fun. We range in ages from 1 to 85, all have different tastes and preferences, and can really get the party started… we can also be overwhelming. Picking a hotel ends up feeling a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears – we need one that’s not too big but not too small, not too hot but not too cold. We made a good choice with Hotel Riu in Guanacaste.
So what makes Costa Rica different? The first thing I noticed was the landscape. The land is very mountainous, which provides for some fun activities. Outside of toured activities, try some local hiking. Full disclosure: we were warned against hiking the next day due to dangerous animals, including the mountain lion, unknown plant life and wild fires. However, it was one hell of a hike. Totally worth it.
Speaking of wild fires – one afternoon a wild fire was ripping through the mountain we hiked through two days earlier. Let me tell you – it was a scene right out of Silent Hill. Don’t know the movie? Neither did anyone else at the resort. So there I was, rambling about the movie, sipping on mojitos, and talking in a British accent. If you know me, that will make sense (sadly). Anyway, the fire wrecked havoc on the mountain in seconds. Here’s a look.
There are a lot of guided tours that are worth the time. Depending on your tastes, Costa Rica has horseback riding, zip lining (don’t do the superman… trust me on that one), rope bridges, waterfalls, wildlife walks and more. You can take a bath in volcanic mud – great for your skin, bad for your nose. However, the real ‘can’t miss’ attraction of the country is the white faced monkeys. Besides being ridiculously cute, they are extremely friendly and extremely mischievous. One of them literally opened my backpack and tried to sneak off with an entire banana. They also have no fear of you and will make their resting place right on top of your head. Oh, and then there was the crocodiles. Best. Day. Ever.
While you are off the resort, make sure to grab a meal at a local restaurant. I never knew chicken could taste so good. Add some Lizano sauce and prepare to be blown away. Spending time around the locals in general is fascinating – such wonderful people. Once you get back to the resort, make sure to try a shot of Costa Rican flag to relax and reflect on the day.
The title of this post is Pura Vida. Pura Vida is a Costa Rican saying that means “Pure Life” and can be used as a friendly good bye and hello. While the saying has many meanings, one of them is “this is living!”… fitting for such a lovely country.