Costa Rica Recap: Arenal
As most of you probably know already, last week we headed to Costa Rica last week to celebrate our second anniversary.
In July, I got the traveling itch. You know, the I-have-to-get-out-of-here-now bug. It was a little bit related to the miscarriage – I needed something new to look forward to – and a little bit related to the realization that Jason had a week of vacation and I’m not currently working. Might as well take advantage of the time off while we have it, because once I start working in January, I won’t be able to get away until school is out in June.
After searching for plane tickets to a few different places that we’ve had our eye on traveling to, we decided that Costa Rica was our best option – tickets were super reasonable (read: $250 each!) for October & November. We eventually discovered that most of our hotel stays would be discounted, too, since October is the “rainy season”. And I put those words in quotes because the weather was really beautiful during the week we were there. I mean, it rained, but usually the rain was only for 30 min or so, or at night, so we were able to enjoy sun & warm temps all week.
We spent the first three days of our vacation near the Arenal volcano, flying into San Jose and then renting a car from there. I had read reports suggesting that the roads were horrible, but we had no problems navigating them. Sure, there’s some potholes, and a lot of one-way-only bridges where you hope the folks on the other side will yield to you, and, heck, we drove on quite a few pothole-filled dirt roads… but, we didn’t find them to be too terrible.
For the first three nights, we stayed at the Treehouses Hotel – which is a series of treehouses in the jungle. They were remarkably clean (being actual treehouses in an actual jungle, I was expecting at least a few spiders & bugs, but the only ones I found were the ones JT and I let in as we entered/exited the treehouse – which made yours truly super-happy!).
It was really cool to unwind on the deck of our treehouse at the end of a long day, and even cooler to awaken to the sounds of howler monkeys and a gazillion birds chirping just outside our window. There was a family of fruit bats living on the roof of the treehouse, and we also saw lizards & frogs on the deck. One morning, as we were eating breakfast (which was amazing, BTW), one of the gardeners came over to tell us that he had seen monkeys & sloths, and brought us over to show us where they were. So. cool.
We arrived at the Treehouses around 3pm, and decided to take a short hike on the property since we’d been sitting in planes & cars for the previous 12 hours. The hike was pretty nice, and led to a waterfall with 3 pools for swimming. Which would have been amazing, had we changed into swimsuits first. Oops.
That first night, we headed to an Italian restaurant nearby (Bella Verona). Because 1) it was nearby, 2) we were both in need of a large meal, and 3) JT wanted pizza. The restaurant was run by a family who moved to CR from Italy, and it was honestly the best Italian food I’ve ever had. Like better than when I was in Italy. Seriously. I had a pasta with a spicy red sauce, bacon, olives, and capers, and JT had a delish woodfired pizza. And we both had entertainment in the form of a 4-year old speaking Spanish or Italian to us for almost 2 hours straight. Even after we told him we didn’t understand him, and that we spoke only English. But as long as we kept smiling and nodding, this cute little guy kept talking and riding his bike in circles around our table. Hilarious.
On day 2, we decided to go zip lining. It was way less scary than I thought it would be. Jason and I were the only ones on the zip line tour, so that was pretty rad. They let us hang upside down (terrifying) and also allowed us to go superman-style (a little bit terrifying, also: take flying off of the list of superpowers I wish I had).
As part of our ziplining package, we were allowed to spend the rest of the afternoon at Los Lagos, which is a big resort at the base of the volcano. We grabbed lunch in La Fortuna at Gecko Gourmet (delish), then headed back to the resort to enjoy the pools (hot & cold!). JT also tried the waterslides. And we explored the gardens & animal exhibits at the resort, seeing poison dart frogs, butterflies, leafcutter ants (they’re so cool, I’m kind of obsessed), alligators, and turtles.
Day 3 we decided to hike again, so we headed to the Arenal hanging bridges. We hiked slowly & quietly because we were hoping to see a whole slew of animals. JT was on the lookout for snakes, especially venomous snakes, which we never saw (thank goodness, because I would have freaked out if we had seen them). We did see howler monkeys, more leafcutter ants, lizards, a frog, and piccaries (wild pigs). The piccaries were especially cool – we heard something rustle in the jungle near us as we approached, so we stood still for a second to see what was going on. And then a family of 8 or so piccaries crossed the path where we had just walked. I was pretty thrilled.
For lunch, we headed to this totally off the beaten path pizza joint (literally, 10 miles down a dirt road, behind some houses). The owner, John, is an ex-Californian who hangs out and makes pizza & ice cream (also? sells great locally grown coffee), and he sat down and chatted with us while we ate. Pizza John is a character and a half, and we still talk about our lunch with him. (Related: Jason now wants to move to CR to be like Pizza John, but with homebrew instead of pizza. So I guess we’d have to call him Beer Jason.)
After lunch, we headed back to La Fortuna (a town at the base of the Arenal volcano) to walk around for a bit. We grabbed dinner & a few drinks at the Lava Lounge (have I mentioned how awesome the fresh fruity drinks were in CR?), and used their wireless internet to let my very worried mom know that we were still alive. And to blog, of course. 🙂
On Day 4, we headed to the Pacific coast… but I’ve written enough for today, so you’ll have to stay tuned for the rest of our adventures…