When you think of Costa Rica what comes to mind? Go ahead, take a moment to think about it. I'll wait.
My initial thoughts about Costa Rica were as follows - rain forests with lush greenery, beautiful tropical flowers, bright colorful birds and critters of all sorts. Shows how much I didn't know.
A little backstory on how our trip to this small Country
came about. A couple of years ago, my friend, Nancy, mentioned that her brother knew someone who had a beautiful house in Costa Rica that we could rent. We said we wanted to go even before we saw the house which was aMAZing! You can see it here,
We decided that we would visit in 2016. When we began to discuss the trip in earnest we went online and booked the first available week which was the third week of April. OK - timing decided, house booked, airline tickets purchased. We also secured a rental car because we were told it was difficult to get large 4 wheel drive (which you definitely need) and we needed a six seater. And that was it in the way of planning. (As an aside, this is very aberrant behavior for me as I am very much a planner.)
We arrived in country armed with tons of bug spray, long pants, hiking shoes and rain gear for hiking in the rain forest. We were in for quite a surprise!
Our beautiful house was in the NW part if the country on the Pacific coast. It was 100 degrees every day. We found out that we were in the "dry region" of the country at the end of the "dry season." Additionally, that part of the country is in the midst of a terrible drought - this is the third year. They are praying for rain. So, no need for bug spray, it's too dry for the bugs to hatch. As for the rain forest and the hiking,we were in the wrong part of the country - you'll find the lush greenery, flowers and tropical birds on the Eastern Caribbean side. Who knew?
So what did we see, you might be wondering about now? We saw what I think Africa must look like - brown scrubby terrain with a green treetop here or there.
The landscaping around our house was lush, green and jungle-like but there were gardeners who came every other day to tend it.
Our house (Casa Nibbana) was located inside Hacienda Pinilla which is a 4,500 hundred acre working cattle ranch. We saw lots of horses, cows, bulls, iguanas and monkeys! And sunsets, glorious sunsets.
The horses were not only out grazing in grassless pastures; they were out and about being used as a means of transportation and for tourist fun. We went horseback riding through the woods and ended up riding on the beach into the surf. Awesome!
The cows and bulls were mainly in pastures but we did have a near-miss head-on collision with a herd that decided to cross a road in the dark just as we were attempting to drive on that same road. It was crazy! The photo that follows isn't very good, but you can definitely see our dilemma with the cows.
Iguanas were also quite plentiful. They were out and about everywhere we went, in the woods, on the beach and even at restaurants - begging for scraps. They are definitely prehistoric looking and all in all, kind of cool.
There were lots and lots of howler monkeys. I was the last person in our group to see a monkey and was very concerned about it. And then it seemed, they were everywhere. They entertained all of us, but I was particularly captivated. I learned quickly that when you take photos of them they look like black blobs. So I started taking videos of them, quite a few videos. My phone storage was completely sucked up by monkey videos.
About that darkness - Costa Rica is located pretty close to the equator so the sun rises between 5:30 and 6:00 AM every day and sets between 5:30 and 6:00 PM every day. And when the sun sets, it gets dark, dark, dark! There were no street lights and no ambient light because we were in the middle of nowhere. It was super dark.
Now, lest you think it was not beautiful where we were - stop! It was! There were so many beaches - over 300 throughout the entire country. Every beach we visited was more beautiful than the last. Some were calm and placid while others were great surfing beaches. The water was clear and oh, so warm, Just gorgeous.
The people of Costa Rica, the Ticos, were so gracious and welcoming. We did not come across anyone who was not friendly, kind and smiling. Pura Vida (pronounced poora veeda) is the Costa Rican catch phrase. It means pure life but more than just a saying, it is a way of life, a good vibe that you feel when you are there.
So the point of this longer than intended story is that sometimes the unexpected can be a very pleasant surprise. I believe we will definitely go back, more than likely to see the rest of the country. But who knows, depending on the outcome of Election 2016 maybe we will go there to live! One can dream.