Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the most wildly exotic, beautiful lands I have ever visited.  It is, in a word, breathtaking.

We arrived at our hotel in San Jose just in time to catch the last quarter of the Superbowl.  I was so anxiety ridden by the close score, I could barely watch, but the Pack pulled it off.  Congratulations to the wonderful team from Green Bay and their amazing performance in the biggest game Aaron Rodgers has played in yet!  Unfortunately, we managed to annoy some Steeler fans in the hotel lobby, but they readily told us the Packers played better than the Steelers did.

When I say Costa Rica is breathtaking, I mean visually, but also the roads, the native drivers, the mountains, the beaches, the jungle, the rain forest and the local color.  One shares the road with every type of vehicle, including ox carts, and of course, the natives.  They all drive like they're insane, passing on double yellows, mountain curves, barely missing each other frequently.  To be honest, Costa Rica has a very high auto fatality rate, but it can't touch Afghanistan, Iran, some African nations, the United Arab Emirates, or the Cook Islands.  However, taking a journey to the middle east is not big on my list of destinations, so I am thankful that I survived Costa Rica uninjured in a car wreck.
I packed so many activities in the short time I was in the country, I need a vacation from my vacation; which is what I'm doing today.  Nothing!

The villa we rented, perched on a mountain, was beyond our dreams in terms of beauty and luxury.  The road to get to the villa was another story.  I can only say that I am glad someone else drove up and down that mountain everyday.  Even our 4 wheel drive SUV labored.  Once there, however, the place was serene and beautiful, from it's saline pool to its amazing architecture.  We were visited by toucans and howler monkeys, lizards, toads, butterflies and amazingly colorful birds, who liked to dip in the pool.  The insects grow big in the jungle.  Let's leave it at that.

Riding a horse into the jungle, down steep ravine cliffs and up steeper hills was a good reminder that I'm not twenty anymore, nor is my butt.  Even with the extra padding, I was still feeling saddle sore.  The ride was probably more ambitious than I had thought it would be, four hours on a horse is a little too much.  But halfway through, we stopped at amazing Nauyaca Falls and swam in the cool pool beneath.  That helped soothe my burning muscles.  The jungle canopy soared overhead, and was full of parrots, toucans, monkeys, snakes, and bugs so big they looked like small dogs.  Of course, a horse that knows its heading back to the barn is always a little frisky, so this old cowgirl had everything she could do to hold on while galloping up steep (and very narrow) trails.  I am glad I did this; I don't think many people will see this waterfall unless they're prepared for a bouncing ride on a horse or a very long walk through some very rugged country.  And it was worth seeing, believe me! 

I'm glad I spent some time in the very warm waters of the Pacific a few days later, snorkeling at Cano Island.  It helped heal me.  The Caribbean is a better place for visibility, but the water temperature and history of Cano Island made this trip very wonderful and utterly worthwhile.  Lots of fish to see, even some sharks and dolphins.  Amazing boat ride on the ocean to the island.  Amazing views of the Costa Rica southern coastline.

Snorkeling, deep sea fishing, a ride through treacherous mountain roads to reach a volcano (which ended up being shrouded in rain clouds) packed a lot into our short trip.  Seeing the coffee growing on the sides of the mountains was wonderful.  We had one day of solid rain up on the volcano, but since we were in the rain forest, you have to expect that.  What we missed in lava flow we made up for in birds and wildlife. 

The guys caught a couple of decent-sized sailfish on an all day fishing trip, and we're very happy with the experience, especially the pod of dolphins who showed up and entertained them with their aquatic skills.

In short, Costa Rica is beautiful.  Wild.  Exotic.  Breathtaking

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