Friday, June 19, 2009

Pura Vida! Our trip to Costa Rica

After a long year of full-time grad school and working 40+ hours/week, I needed a vacation! Gonzalo and I discovered a cheap flight to San Jose, Costa Rica and decided to go for 6 days, 5 nights. We stayed in San Jose the first two nights, near the Arenal Volcano the next two nights, and again in San Jose the last night.

We are very fortunate that we speak Spanish, because I think that made our trip a lot more smooth and we got a lot of great advice from local people. Our fitst night, we walked to the closest grocery store to our hostel and saw a few things we hadn't seen before, especially in the produce section. We asked a fellow customer what some things were and she showed us a bunch of yummy fruits. We also saw a pastry in the bakery with a filling we had never heard of, and the baker walked us over to the produce section and showed us what it was! Additionally, whenever we asked for directions, recommendations for restaurants or routes to take, we got more information than we were even asking for. Pura Vida indeed! (pura vida = pure life, or something like 'pure living')

We ended up renting a car for two days, which was totally worth it. It was a Daihatsu, a brand we'd never heard of, but after the trip and the crazy roads we sometimes found ourselves on, we were wondering how to buy stock in it! There was plenty of room for two and it was a manual transmission and 4-wheel drive, which was absolutely necessary more than once.

The highlights of our trip were ziplining, visiting the Arenal Volcano, and driving around Laguna Arenal. We didn't get a chance to visit either coast this trip, but we've already made up our minds to return to Costa Rica. The Caribbean/Gulf coast is supposed to be great for ecotourism, with the Tortuguero national park (tortuga=turtle). The Pacific coast is the more touristy coast with the nicest beaches and surfing. That's where my sister and her fiancee are staying on their honeymoon in September - we're so jealous!!

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