Summer Travels: Costa Rica

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Ah, Costa Rica...1 week was just not enough! Nonetheless, I think we did about as much as we could in the minimal amount of time that we had! I traveled to Costa Rica this summer with my boyfriend's twin sister, Tyne. We went to visit him while he was there doing field work for grad school, but we made a whole trip of it! 

After going through customs, we picked up our rental car from Vamos (they were awesome and I suggest renting with them if you're going to Costa Rica!) and set out to find Edward! A detail about driving in Costa Rica...there aren't really addresses that you can plug into a GPS and have it take you there! You basically have to type in the general area of where you're headed, then find your destination by driving around once you get there. Sometimes the "addess" your given will say the street name, then "30 meters to the left of the yellow house." So you can imagine how challenging it was to locate our Airbnb late that first night in a somewhat big city. But more of that story later... We ended up finding Edward pretty easily in a local coffee shop (called Franco, it's a great spot in Barrio Escalante, San Jose if you ever get the chance to stop by!), had a wonderful "hello," grabbed a quick bite to eat, then sadly said "goodbye" again just for the weekend. Edward had a lot of work to do with his team that weekend, so Tyne and I had a fun weekend in another part of Costa Rica! 

Now back to that story...we left Franco, and started the 3 hour drive to Liberia where our first Airbnb was. Now, we knew we had a long drive ahead of us so we didn't plan to visit Edward too long because we didn't want to be driving too late into the night. The sun starts to set in Costa Rica around 5:30pm, and it's completely dark by 6:30pm. As the light began to really fade, we noticed that our headlights were either incredibly dim or didn't work at all! There also happened to be absolutely no street lighting on parts of our route, so we quickly realized we were in a bit of trouble. It was literally pitch black if there were no other cars around, so our plan of action was to "trail" other cars and utilize the light from their headlights to be able to see the winding road. If there was a car behind us, that was even better! And sometimes we were the only car on the road, in which case we used our brights, thankfully. Of course, that's not the most considerate idea when there's others coming the opposite way, but we had to see where we were going!! Eventually, after an extremely alert and heart-pounding car ride, and an intensive search up and down the one way streets of Liberia, we arrived at our home for the next two nights! It was a cute place, much more spacious than what the two of us needed. 

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After a restful night, Tyne and I headed to the beach! We didn't have much of a plan (for most of the trip, actually), but we found the BEST coffee shop called Ticoffia at Playas del Coco, stopped in for some time to be productive (Tyne had some grad school work, and I just read), then walked over to the beach! It was pretty crowded, but we took a nice long (and very hot) walk down to the end and back, I jumped in the water briefly, then we decided to find another, more secluded beach.

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The next beach we found what exactly what we were hoping for! Fewer people, and much more "picturesque." It was behind a resort, but there was still public access. It's name was very fitting: Playa Bonita.

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Now, we still had our headlight problem. And although we didn't plan on driving any more after dark, we still wanted to get them checked out, just in case. We passed a Vamos on our way to the beach, so we called them up and asked if they could take a look at the car, and they ended up giving us a new one! Problem solved! 

We planned to move on from Liberia the next day, but before we did, we needed to make one stop. Tyne had stayed in Liberia a couple years ago for about 6 weeks with a host family. She remembered exactly where they lived, but hadn't been able to get in contact with them so she wasn't sure if they still lived in the same house. We drove by the house and there was a different car in the driveway than Tyne remembered, but she decided she would regret it if she didn't at least ring the doorbell to see if it was them. And...IT WAS! Her host mom cracked open the door, and it took just a split second for her to recognize Tyne, and she had the happiest expression on her face! She ran to get her husband, and they warmly welcomed us into their home, and we got to chat for a little while. They even welcomed us back to stay in their home any time we wanted! It was the sweetest encounter! 

So we were off to our next stop, La Fortuna to see Arenal Volcano. On the way, we hiked to Rio Celeste, which was stunning! The beautiful color of the waterfall comes from the mixing of certain chemicals up the river. If you continue to hike past the waterfall, you can actually see where these chemicals mix. It's like two different colors of water meeting. We didn't make it to this point, but where we did go was beautiful! As we continued passed the waterfall, it began to pour! We truly experienced the RAINforest. We trudged through mud, got completely soaked, and loved every second. 

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Completely drenched, we drove the rest of the way to La Fortuna. After dropping off our stuff at our Airbnb, all we wanted for dinner were some that's what we set out to find, and we did! The next day was full of driving through the mountains. Unfortunately, we couldn't really see the volcano because it was so cloudy. But we did spot a monkey crossing the road! Apart from the monkey and a couple snakes, we didn't see any other wildlife, which was kind of a bummer.

One of our adventures here was hiking the La Fortuna Waterfall. It was about 500 steps to the waterfall where you could swim at the bottom. There were a ton of visitors at the time we went, but it was still worth it! 

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After La Fortuna, we were finally getting to go back to San Jose to see Edward until we left! On our way down, we booked a coffee farm tour at Cafe Britt. This was probably our favorite thing we did the whole trip! Tyne is a huge coffee fan, and after being a barista, I really enjoy learning the process of coffee before it gets to the shop. Our tour was so informative and super hands on! We learned everything from the planting to drink making process.

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The next few days with Edward were spent exploring San Jose, going to coffee shops and on hikes, and enjoying delicious food! It was a relaxing end to our trip, and we were so sad to leave. I would definitely love to go back to Costa Rica for a couple more weeks in order to really experience all that it has to offer! If anyone is planning a trip there, let me know and I just might tag along!