get caught up on Part I…
Our second full day in Costa Rica started in the same lazy way as the others while we relaxed around the front porch listening to the birds and sipping on coffee. We had a great time getting to know the two iguanas that guarded our front gate. Matt affectionately named them Iggy and Iguina (pronounced Ig-wee-naa) and according to the guest book at our house they have been the gatekeepers for many years!
Eventually we made our way down the street to a local yoga retreat called Vida Asana. It was about a mile and a half from our house so we just walked there and enjoyed the sunshine. I managed to burn random spots on my right arm the day prior so I kept it covered up with my jacket.
The yoga retreat was incredible. This morning was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip. We weren’t sure what to expect (which was part of the fun) but instantly felt at home when they told us the class would be starting soon and we could hang out in the hammocks while we waited.
There were about 10 other people in the class and by the end of the two hours I was so zenned out I felt like I could float home. We practiced in an open air structure surrounded by a canopy of trees, chirping birds and monkeys.
We trekked home and tried to hold onto that peaceful feeling while we sweated buckets under the relentless Costa Rican sun. We hadn’t realized the class would be two hours long so we were pretty hungry by the time we got home. We packed our bags for the beach and headed into town for a quick bite to eat. We found a quaint cafe near Jaco beach called Side Street Bistro and filled up on smoothies and fresh sandwiches before we hit up Playa Hermosa for some relaxation.
We only stayed for an hour because we just couldn’t handle the direct sunlight for much longer. Neither of us had a base tan when we came since it was April in D.C. so we had to be very careful traveling so close to the equator – the sun is just so much hotter!
That evening we drove to the Hotel Villa Caletas to take advantage of their rooftop bar. We heard that this was a ‘must-see’ attraction and it did not disappoint. The drive to the hotel is straight up the side of the mountain and the bar sits on the edge of an open air amphitheater that overlooks the ocean from 1,150 feet above sea level. We ordered a couple drinks and settled in for the show!
Unfortunately clouds were moving in so it obscured the final sun setting a bit but it couldn’t put a damper on our moods!
We headed back down the mountain and snagged a quick bite to eat before heading home for the night.
We woke up early on our last full day excited to check out Manuel Antonio National Park which was about an hour drive from our house. We grabbed breakfast at a bakery in Quepos then headed up the mountain to find the park. After parking we wandered around for a bit before we finally found the entrance. National parks in Costa Rica are not the same as they are in the U.S. There are no designated parking lots, there is no huge sign stating where the trail to the entrance is and there will be many people posing as park rangers trying to sell you tickets or tours. Or who knows, maybe this was just our experience! After following a sketchy cardboard sign stating “ENTRANCE = 300 METERS” we found the ticket booth and the park entrance. We were immediately greeted with all sorts of wildlife and flourishing jungle.
One of the first animals we saw, besides the random deer, was a SLOTH! We could hardly contain our excitement. They are also the slowest animals I have ever seen. To put it in perspective, we were in the park for three hours and the sloth was still climbing this jungle vine when we left.
We headed toward one of the many beaches inside the park and were greeted with all sorts of monkeys and animals along the way.
When we broke out of the trees onto the beach it was like we had been transported to a different planet. Manuel Antonio beach is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen!
The monkeys are very bold and will steal anything they can get their hands on so we made sure that one of stayed with our bags at all times. Others were not so lucky! We watched a raccoon unzip a backpack and steal an entire bag of plantains out of it! It unzipped the backpack! We saw a few monkeys try and steal bags but the owners were quick to retrieve them.
We hung out on the beach for a couple hours before bidding farewell to the park and heading out to forage for food.
On our way back to the car we stopped and bought a fresh coconut. The man chopped the top of it off with a machete, stuck a straw in it and we sucked down the deliciously sweet liquid faster than you could snap your fingers. I will never be able to drink coconut water from a can again – this was so fresh!
As we drove home to pack and prepare for our flight back the next morning, we were reminded of the peaceful state of being that had swept over us the last few days. We truly had tapped into the ‘pura vida’ mindset and prayed that we could maintain it once we landed back in the States.
Now, when I’m stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-395 or the metro is delayed again, I close my eyes, take a deep breath and imagine I’m lying on the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen, sucking down some fresh coconut water and holding onto my bag so the monkeys don’t steal my sandals. Ahh – paradise…