What. A. Trip. Our visit to Costa Rica was wonderful. The travel there went as smoothly as possible, which was excellent since that was the source of quite a bit of anxiety for me. After arriving at the San Jose airport last Saturday afternoon we loaded our bags into a van and were driven to the house we’d rented for the week. One of my favorite things about this trip was having drivers/transport. All of our transport was booked with a company called Varso Travel. In addition to getting us to the house from the airport, they picked us up from the house each day and drove us to wherever we happened to be going, then brought us back in the evening. It took away SO MUCH STRESS that would have been driving in Costa Rica.
Why? From what I can tell, no driving laws are actually enforced in Costa Rica. People literally drive how and where they want. Motorcycles don’t bother with lanes; they just weave in and out of traffic. Cars pass on double yellows into oncoming traffic to get around anyone they wish. It’s crazy. So having a local person, who not only knows the routes but knows how to drive there, was such an incredible boon. If you’re ever traveling to Costa Rica, I highly recommend spending the extra money on having drivers.
My favorite activity actually ended up being the day we rode horses. We arrived early, mounted up, and then took a two hour horseback ride through the mangrove forest and out onto the ocean beach. As someone who has never ridden a horse, I was a bit nervous, but it was wonderful. You go pretty slowly, and really get to take in all the sights along the way. My kiddo even got her own horse and she did such a great job riding! I loved sauntering through the mangrove forest on horseback; looking at the beautiful environment and animals. Living in New Hampshire, the environment in Costa Rica could not be more different from home. Every plant, every tree – they were all things I’d never seen in person before. It was glorious to take it all in.
The day we visited La Paz waterfall and gardens made for my absolute favorite views of the trip. They have hikes to four different waterfalls (very short hikes; the waterfalls are nearly one after the other and the whole trip is only about a one mile hike) and you are literally IN THE RAINFOREST up on a mountain. The views were breathtaking. There was a scary moment when a thunderstorm rolled in while we were at the top of a mountain. We were under shelter – they have a full cafeteria area which is outdoors but with a roof over it – but it was still a bit spooky to be up a mountain with huge cracks of thunder and monsoon-like rain. But it passed quickly and we were able to still do the hikes! La Paz also has an animal sanctuary; they care for animals that can no longer live in the wild so we got to see some wonderfully exotic animals. My favorites were the jaguars and ocelots (#crazycatlady) but the snakes were amazing too!
Sadly we did not get to hike a volcano which was at the top of both my daughter’s and my own Costa Rica bucket list. But there was no choice – good ole Mother Nature had her own plans! Two days before we arrives, Poas Volcano blew. The two meter column of ash and smoke it launched was enough to evacuate the surrounding area! All the other volcanoes would have been over a three hour drive, which we just did not have time to fit in with the other plans we’d made. So clearly, no volcanoes for us. However, we did get to see the volcanoes in the distance as we drove up to La Paz waterfall so that was awesome!
Overall, the trip as an incredible experience. I definitely had a bit of culture shock upon first arriving. Not just the language (My Spanish is not great, and I learned I’m a lot better at understanding people talking to me than trying to speak to people) but the environment, the heat, the humidity, the conditions in which people lived – it was all so different from home. I have never felt more like a spoiled American white woman than I did while there. There are many things in America that I take for granted which I hadn’t really thought of before until faced with something so completely opposite. It was eye-opening in that manner. But the trip was filled with so much beauty, so many experiences I am so lucky to have had a chance to take part in. I highly recommend traveling to Costa Rica if you get the chance; it has so many wonders to offer!