Costa Rica Adventures

     About a month ago, my family and I went on a wonderful vacation to Costa Rica.  We actually ended up driving three days from Oklahoma to Orlando, FL.  Why would we do such a crazy thing, you ask?  Well, my oldest daughter wants to be an astronaut when she grows up, but a few months ago she was convinced she'd have to be a boy in order to fulfill her dreams.  This obviously shook me up, so I researched astronaut meet and greets and lo and behold, the Kennedy Space Center would be hosting Wendy Lawrence for the week prior to our planned vacation.  It was settled, so I booked our tickets out of Orlando.  Here are some shots from our day there.  Beware, Orlando has this uncanny ability to steal all of your money and sanity...

 Here she is meeting "a real girl astronaut!"  Poor thing was so excited she could hardly speak...

Here she is meeting "a real girl astronaut!"  Poor thing was so excited she could hardly speak...

    We then realized we had made a very unfortunate decision months prior to our departure in that we thought a 6 AM takeoff was a wonderful idea.  That means we had to wake the girls up at 2:45 in the morning to make it to the airport in time.  Mind you, this was only a couple of days after the time change and we had crossed time zones as well, so we just kind of bumbled around through airports and airplanes in a sleep deprived stupor and somehow found ourselves in San Jose less than 12 hours later.

     San Jose roads and traffic quickly tested every last mental faculty in our possession combined and we managed to drive around in grid-like circles for three hours, alternating between tears and screaming.  It would've helped if the capital city felt like naming their roads, but apparently that doesn't go along with the "pura vida" mindset.  Finally, we passed a tourist bus and I said, "you know, I bet they have Wi-Fi on that bus.  Maybe we can get our GPS to work finally."  Bingo!  We were finally in business and made it to our first AirBnB stay only 5 hours late.

 That's a guy walking his goats on a leash across a busy interstate in San Jose.

That's a guy walking his goats on a leash across a busy interstate in San Jose.

     Our first and last nights in Costa Rica were spent at "el Barco" in Esterillos on the Pacific coast, just a few minutes south of bustling, tourist-ridden Jaco.  I've stayed in Esterillos twice before on previous visits to Costa Rica and it still remains one of my favorite places in the country.  It's just a tiny town on the coast with beautiful black sand beaches, tidal pools, and a delicious restaurant.  It was so fun to see the girls play in the same sand and water that I used to run across and surf in.

     After our first Esterillos stay, we continued down the coast to the Osa Peninsula.  As I mentioned before, I've visited Costa Rica a number of times before this trip and always frequented the Jaco and Tamarindo areas.  This was before Costa Rica became a big tourist destination, so the cities weren't built up and I hold fond memories of their raw beauty in my heart.  I couldn't stand the thought of returning to these towns and seeing them overrun by gawking tourists and innumerable "tourist trap tees" stores.  So I took my family down south.  Way down.  Down to where the country is still wild and relatively untouched.  I'm glad I did.

     Our first stop was Finca Kobo, a chocolate farm close to the Golfo Dulce coast.  I can't say enough about how sweet all of the staff, and chocolate, were at this farm!  They treated our children as if they were some of their own, greeted us with freshly picked star fruit upon our arrival, and had some amazing grounds to explore.  We saw tons of pineapple, scarlet macaws, and what most certainly must've been a tree of death (see picture below).  Our beds were in a bunk-style house that was screened in, so you could hear the sounds of the jungle at all times.

     We stayed only one night at Finca Kobo and after checking out the next morning, we ventured all the way around the southern tip of the peninsula and up to the edge of Corcovado National Park, dubbed as the most biologically intense place on the planet.  We stopped in Puerto Jimenez to pick up some lunch stuff before journeying deep into the rainforest, but did not pick up enough to last us long.  There are no restaurants where we went (with the exception of one that only serves at very specific times of the day and primarily to their own cabina guests).  Alas, hunger and thirst forced us to leave a bit earlier than we would have liked.  Don't be like us.  Buy enough food and water.

 I never saw anyone with this horse and his cart full of palm nuts...

I never saw anyone with this horse and his cart full of palm nuts...

 Sea turtles had recently hatched on Carate Beach.

Sea turtles had recently hatched on Carate Beach.

 We had to ford a number of rivers.  My husband underestimated one and let's just say we ended up with some water in the car.  Don't tell the rental agency ;-)

We had to ford a number of rivers.  My husband underestimated one and let's just say we ended up with some water in the car.  Don't tell the rental agency ;-)

 Yet another self-disciplined horse.

Yet another self-disciplined horse.

 This restaurant must make a killing considering it's the only one around.

This restaurant must make a killing considering it's the only one around.

 It came complete with friendly local dog.

It came complete with friendly local dog.

     After this day of adventure and starvation, we went to our next stop nestled in the crook of the peninsula.  This was to be our most authentic Costa Rican stay of our vacation.  We arrived at our brightly colored cabin, Finca de Nada, for a two night stay.  The grounds were just beautiful, tucked away on the edge of the gulf with a beautiful view.  We had plenty of coconuts at our disposal, and little did we know at the time that this would be our main source of food over the next 18 hours, along with half cooked black beans.  

     You see, when we arrived at our cabin, there was a mix-up with the booking so the place was locked.  After some broken Spanglish with the neighbors, we got someone over who was able to let us in.  Let's just say that I was a bit shocked by the place.  It was moreso a shack, complete with open rafters and cracks between each and every board and a tin roof.  Within minutes of checking in, a torrential downpour started and continued until almost midnight.  The girls were delighted and ran out to play in the rain, while my husband and I huddled together and tried to figure out what we would eat.

     After taking stock of all food options, we came up with a crushed granola bar, a sole coconut, half a bag of dried black beans, and a half cup of mosh (Costa Rican oatmeal).  We decided to save the mosh and coconut for a meager breakfast and then promptly threw the beans into water and placed it hopefully over the tiny flame of the tin stove.  We each got a quarter of the granola bar crumbs.  After three hours of boiling, the beans were still crunchy.  The storm had let up some and it was 8:30, and we remembered passing a single restaurant about a half mile up the road that served dinner supposedly.  We gathered up all the spare change we had (that amounted to only $12 because we hadn't found a bank yet...) and I sent my husband out into the dark, cold rain to search for food.  Our plans were that if he wasn't back in half an hour, I was to carry on without him.  Thankfully, he returned in 20 minutes but unfortunately, he was empty handed.  The restaurant had closed early due to the rain.  We all went to bed hungry that night.  Oh, and we were accompanied by bats that came in through the open rafters.

 At least we had mosquito nets to keep the bats out.

At least we had mosquito nets to keep the bats out.

 A serving of mosh served up in a coconut.

A serving of mosh served up in a coconut.

     Honestly, those two nights were the most memorable of the trip and I'm sure we'll laugh about them for years to come!  We had to move on eventually though and so found ourselves driving up an extremely steep and bumpy road into the dense rainforest of the southern half of the country.  I thought the girls would get a kick out of staying in a tree house for three nights, and they certainly seemed to have a wonderful time.  I selected one of the tree houses that was situated on a river, so the girls spent most of their days splashing in the refreshing water under the jungle canopy.  It was a relaxing three days filled with delicious food, fun explorations, and relaxing to the sounds of the rainforest.  My husband and oldest daughter even got to go zip lining, see a Fer de Lance snake, and red poison dart frogs!

 We all had to wear these giant boots because of snakes...

We all had to wear these giant boots because of snakes...

So there you have it!  We had quite a wonderful time and within 3 days of being home, my girls were asking to go on another road trip.  It seems that I have successfully imparted my wanderlust upon them...