I soared through the canopy at the base of a volcano. I hiked to a waterfall. I wandered through rainforests filled with monkeys springing from branch to branch in little leaps of faith. My objectives for my PARALLAXploration were to explore, connect with locals, learn, and relax, and I can say without hesitation that my trip was a success.
At our first destination, Rancho Cerro Azul, we were welcomed with perfect hospitality by Tatiana and her family who own the small hotel. The group of individual cabins is located within walking distance to La Fortuna town, and a hearty walk in the opposite direction, up a hill that leads to the La Fortuna waterfall. What we noticed right away was the calm and peaceful energy of the place. Our cabin was modest but clean and decorated with fresh flowers clipped from the garden.
It was at the owners’ house that we were introduced to the “typical plate,” which we proceeded to eat wherever we went. The typical plate costs $7 US (or 3776.50 Costa Rican colones) and includes rice, beans, fried plantains, a tortilla or bread, salad or fruit, and a protein (eggs/chicken/fish/steak).
Our next stop, Tabacon Hot Springs, was over-the-top luxury and perfect for a honeymoon. Some of my favorite things about this place were that it smelled like fresh powder and that the springs were designed with maze-like paths to explore. We were only there for one night, but somehow managed to visit the hot springs three times during our stay!
Our final destination was Arenas Del Mar Rainforest and Beachfront resort in Manuel Antonio. This resort is luxurious without feeling pretentious – perhaps due in part to the resort’s commitment to sustainability. The golf carts used to navigate the hilly resort are electric so they cut down on pollution and they are very quiet. The sounds of the jungle (howler monkeys, birds, frogs) are all you hear.
What really made our stay special was our time spent with Ersel – a naturalist guide who helped me to meet my goals of learning and connecting to the culture of Costa Rica. With Ersel, we took an introductory Spanish lesson and practiced Costa Rican slang. We were taught how to make Costa Rica-style tortillas by hand. We can now speak to the differences between the two-toed sloth and the three-toed sloth. Ersel led us on a nighttime nature hike, pointing out the classic green tree frog with red eyes that graces the cover of all the travel magazines. We witnessed a giant sea turtle burying her eggs and making her slow crawl back to the sea. Ersel’s enthusiasm for his work and passion for the native wildlife was inspiring and infectious.
I wasn’t prepared for how magical Costa Rica would be: its calm and peaceful energy, how many moments would be so perfect that I’d hear myself expressing my gratitude out loud. Mucho thanks to Guusje and Jonathan for making this trip possible. Thank you also to the people of Costa Rica who were generous with their time and energy and made me want to be more generous with my own energy.
One of the tico (Costa Rican local) phrases that we learned during our Spanish lesson was “solo bueno,” meaning “nothing but good.” How was my PARALLAXploration, you ask? Solo bueno!
If you want to see me take my own leap of faith like the capuchin monkeys of Costa Rica, check out this video!