Costa Rica

Costa Rica was a rain forest paradise, everything you’ve ever wanted and more! I’ve always written off this place because growing up, I would hear about countless mission trips here. Like, isn’t everyone there culturally catholic already? Can’t we just leave them alone?

The plane ride to Costa Rica from JFK reinforced my fears. There were multiple groups of 5+ smiley braced-faced white people, names of their youth group adorned on their matching hoodies, boarding in groups. I braced myself for the worst. I grew up with a strict souththern evangelical background and knew exactly who these people were. AKA The worst. As the plane landed, I stomped in my Doc Martens past their confused currency exchange and oversized luggage fuckery and made my way outside to the perfect, sticky, island air.

We were able to shake off the missionaries. Turns out, you don’t run into that many people on the island. Everything is spread out and each region is as different from the neighboring region as can be.

My sisters made the itinerary. My family and I rented a car. I had three swim suits packed. We had a lot of nature and clean eating planned for the next six days. We spent time in San Jose, Quepos, Monteverde, and Jaco Beach.

Here are some highlights:

Manuel Antonio National Park – Paved trails that lead to about six different beaches. You can see sloths, crabs, and all sorts of exotic animals here. The Spanish word for sloth, “Oso perezoso” meand lazy bear. The guides say you need a tour to see all the animals, but you’re fine without them. But it’s always a good idea to support the local economy.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve – This region reminded me of Denver with it’s windy roads and vast differences in altitude. Hiking though here feels surreal. The hike is not bad too, only a few miles. You feel very, very alone here.

Paradise Hot Springs – There are about five different pools here, with hot sulfur spring water supplied by local volcanoes. One pool has a swim up bar. One pool has built-in lawn chairs. One pool has temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Oceano Boutique and Gallery – My favorite hotel. Ever. (Not just in Costa Rica, but ever). Seems more like a fancy art gallery rather than a hotel.

It was a beautiful place. It seems “underdeveloped” at first glace, but I think it is by choice. Everyone we encountered in Costa Rica is proud of their nature, culture, and how they take care of their surroundings. Natives frequently ask tourists if they have seen the Costa Rican animals. In an attempt to not sound like a privileged American traveler, which I completely am, it’s an ecosystem and way of life that the rest of the world should aspire to be.

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