Prior to getting on the plane on December 13th with my daughter Kim and my granddaughter Kendal (also known as the Adventure Girls) headed to Costa Rica I only knew the definition of the phrase Pura Vida (pronounced poo-rah vee-dah). Simply translated, it means “simple life” or “pure life”, but in Costa Rica, it is actually a way of life which I’m sure is the primary reason Costa Rica has been named one of the happiest countries in the world! Before we even landed I was amazed and very excited by some of the sights I could see from the plane!
As soon as we landed at Liberia Airport everyone began greeting us with the Pura Vida phase and I thought to myself “these folks are so nice”…. But it was so much more than that, as everyone seems to be really stress-free there too! Almost immediately I knew I was going to have an extraordinary vacation. Our first resort was called Rio Perdido in Guanacaste and it was the absolute PERFECT place to start our adventure! Our room was a very cozy bungalow, with an incredible double outside shower!! But it was the calmness of the property, the gorgeous open restaurant made primarily of wood, the walking trails and the thermal river that had three different water temperatures and was a mile in length. The coolest portion of the river was lukewarm and the hottest of the three springs was 117 degrees! It was impossible not to unwind and relax in that environment.
December 14th was Kendal’s birthday and we left the decision up to her what activity she wanted to do for the day. Surprisingly, she chose “no activity” and instead wanted us to stay all day on the thermal river and in the awesome resort pools which we happily did. She wanted quiet time too, so we all sat in our own spaces for more than an hour at the river and wrote and colored in our journals that Kim made for us prior to the trip. We had an awesome birthday celebration dinner that included a gorgeous cake that Kim ordered for Kendal in advance!
That time we spent at the thermal river was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. Us hiking that mile together crossing over small rocks and huge boulders to get to the hot springs, and helping and encouraging each other when necessary and finding puma stones to rub on our skin was a very bonding family experience.
One of the activities that was available at Rio Perdido was Ziplining, BUT even though the huge canyon that the zip lines ran through was soooo beautiful with rushing water and huge rocks it was also were incredibly intimidating and terrifying. Throughout our time there we went back and forth about whether or not we were going to do the ziplining. On the very last day we decided we’d conquer our fears and do it!! I screamed and yelled with joy and several friends we made at the resort recorded us just as we had recorded them as they ziplined! I was terrified all the way up until it was time to start but as soon as we strapped on the equipment I felt fine and ready to tackle the adventure! We did 6 ziplines, and climbed up ladders to the next one and walked over two suspension bridges that swayed back and forth! I was so proud of myself for not letting my fear overcome my faith! That little figure in the pic over the boulders and about to soar over water is me and I’m moving so fast the pic is fuzzy!
Kim also did the tubing adventure on the property which Kendal and I couldn’t do because we can’t swim. Thankfully Kim was wearing my GoPro camera so we got to experience the adventure even though we weren’t there! We also did my first ever night tour where Kendal spotted and photographed more animals and stars than our tour guide!!
Our next location was three hours away in Monteverde where we stayed in a cloud forest at a resort called Senda!
One of the first things we noticed when we got there was the 20 degree drop in temperature and the strong winds! I even brought a new windbreaker to stay warm! We were literally on the top of the mountain and above some of the clouds. We went into town for lunch and shopping but enjoyed the property as well, especially off the beaten path where there were hidden benches and chairs all through the property where you could sit or swing and reflect without being interrupted.
We went on an extraordinary coffee and chocolate tour where we smelled, helped create, and then tasted both the coffee and the candy we made!! We had an incredible guide and loved the entire tour, especially the tasting at the end!
We also did a tour of the rainforest which was very informative and very serene! It also took us across 6 suspension bridges including one of the longest ones in all of Costa Rica!
We also did MORE Ziplining, across lines even higher and much longer than the ones in Rio Perdido. We enjoyed the experience in spite of the cold and the fierce winds! Interestingly I had an experience that I’m guessing I’ll never forget! With the fierce wind and the length of one of the lines, I didn’t weigh enough to make it all the way to the end of the line. We were shown in the instructional session how to turn around and pull ourselves back to the end using a hand over fist technique if necessary. I got stuck probably 100 yards from the end and immediately began the process we were taught. It took me 3 minutes to get myself to the end and thankfully everyone was yelling encouragement to me which definitely helped get me back. I learned that my upper body is a lot stronger than I thought and that I’m capable of doing anything I put my mind to!! I was beyond proud myself and got huge hugs from everyone in the group when I was finished!! The end of the ziplining adventure required that we rappel down to the ground which was terrifying for most of us, but we conquered that too!
By far the most incredible experience of the ten days was a dining experience in a treetop!! It was called San Lucas and I knew it was going to be special when our waitress showed up at the hotel with the driver to pick us up! It’s almost hard to describe but the restaurant was separated into glass rooms with doors that are literally up in the trees!! It was fantastic and I would have thought it was incredible even if the food was bad, BUT the nine courses of food were simply incredible and looked like works of art as it arrived at the table!! Kendal even got to paint a cookie for her dessert before eating it! It was one of the best experiences of our lives with a bonus sunset!
Our last stop of the trip was back near Guanacaste where we stayed in a huge luxury resort called Andaz! When we arrived I felt like we were in an episode of the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous!! The lobby of the resort was literally outside covered by round spheres! The walking trails, pools and their private beach were all amazing!
It was definitely more luxury than I’m used to but we had a great time. We rented a car on December 20th to ride to a waterfall and hike in the volcano which was the activity I selected for the trip. The waterfall was awesome and though we never did actually hike through the National Park because we got lost it was the most fun and scenic lost journey we’d ever been on!! The rolling green mountains actually took our breath away in different places and Kim was a real trooper in keeping our vehicle on the road in spite of the sharp turns! At times it looked as if we were driving right through the clouds!
Kim’s birthday was on December 21st and we even got up early to enjoy the sunrise together on her special day!!
The staff left both a small cake in our room for Kim AND gave her a huge treat on December 22nd because we left the restaurant for a tour on the 21st before they could present it to her!! They really went all out at this resort! We went ATV riding to a waterfall on Kim’s birthday and met another group from Prince George’s County, Maryland! The ATV riding wasn’t our favorite activity and part of it required that we ride on roads with cars but we survived it!!
For our last full day of the trip we chose to stay and unwind at the resort beach and pools took a water taxi to another portion of the beach to enjoy some down time there too!! It was the absolute best way to end our extraordinary trip!
I didn’t see as many birds and animals as I had hoped, but the monkeys and the Costa Rica version of a raccoon were hysterically entertaining at the resorts and one even stole one of Kim’s croissants from my bag at the beach while Kim and Kendal were kayaking! Our ten day adventure was definitely a trip of a lifetime and I’ve made Pura Vida my mantra for 2023! The folks who live in Costa Rica have a very relaxed, simple way of looking at life. No worries, no fuss, no stress—Pura Vida to them means being thankful for what they have and not dwelling on the negative. I believe that living the Pura Vida life is the perfect compliment to my living with Joy!! With the loss of Mom and my Godson Bobby, 2022 was not a good year but I go into 2023 with great anticipation of a fabulous year with even more fun adventures! Very Thankful to Kim and Kendal for inviting me to tag along on their Costa Rice Adventure!
Many thanks to all of you who read my blog throughout 2022 and I hope you will stick around for what’s to come in 2023!! My friends I wish you all Pura Vida, Happy Kwanzaa and a very Happy and Healthy New Year! Much Love!