Oh so much to tell, oh so quickly the time passes. As winter is approaching let’s rewind to sweet and sweaty summertime. We explored many areas of Costa Rica, from being high in the cloud forests all the way to the Caribbean coast. Now that the moments have passed and the memories are digested we can share some more tales.
From all of the biodiversity in the world, biologists say that 5.5% is to be found in just this one area. Unfortunately, the national park of Corcovado charges outrageous prices to enter and you must go with a
tour guide, starting at $90 for only a 2-hour tour! This doesn’t fit in our budget so we decided to enjoy all the nature at the edge of the park. As it’s a rainforest you can imagine that sunshine is rare, it’s even one of the wettest places of the whole planet. Quite secluded, there are only two ways to access Corcovado. A small and long bumpy road – like many in Costa Rica – or by boat, through mangroves and through the wild breaking of ocean and river. We chose to go by boat and the experience is one every passenger will remember. Speeding and jumping the crashing waves everybody had to hold tight. Somebody made the joke ‘will we survive this?’ as rain hit our faces and trash bags tried to cover all the luggage. Isolated in Bahia Drake, our cheap cabin room had a small porch looking over the coast and we could see the ‘lapas’ (macaws) and iguanas in the trees. There’s so much life, in every corner of the jungle! In between the rain showers we walked along the idyllic beaches.
La Fincita Organica
Our group of six reunited for a last few days before Nico and Renee headed back to Belgium. We used our time together relaxing by some jungle rivers and during our walks we would discover waterfalls not marked on any map. At the farm we planted trees and enjoyed the pura vida lifestyle. Close to the farm in the valley runs a river, hiking through the primary jungle and cow fields we reached yet another waterfall. Never in our lives we have seen so many! Our time at the farm was unique, we are lucky to have experienced Costa Rica the way we did. Not many foreigners get to see the ‘tico’ lifestyle first-hand. Most tourists will never leave the routes which are set-up by the very big tourism industry. We will cherish the moments at Juan’s bar watching the sunset and having exquisite family dinners every night. With only a few weeks left we decided to get out and explore more the north of Costa Rica. Also, there were a couple friends coming!
Known for its chill ‘hippie’ vibe we headed to the Nicoya peninsula and the small village of Montezuma. A village filled with interesting people and a lot of handcrafters. Like always in Costa Rica, it took us an entire day of traveling to get there. After three buses and a ferry we arrived, meeting our friend Gabby for two short days. The area is most known for its giant waterfalls so of course we couldn’t miss it. Our hike along the river fulfilled Gabby’s wish to see monkeys. A big group lingered right above our heads and over the river. Some were only a few steps away from us! After the first and biggest waterfall we decided to hike further up the mountain towards two more. Once arrived at the highest point, a small gate closed the trail and we had to pay $2 entry… Smart! They don’t say or write anything about it up front, but when being at the top, sweaty and exhausted, you suddenly have to pay. If you travel to Costa Rica you should be prepared, almost every little piece of beautiful nature they make you pay for… Who can actually own nature and make you pay for it? This a very sad thing! We’re sure that you can always get in free and although the trail will be harder, but you at least saw a different path than the hundreds of other travelers.
A special visitor
One of Patricia’s best friends from college was yearning for a getaway and wanted nature to lift her up. The offer stood in front of her to come feel the pura vida, so Paige booked a ticket and came to hang out for 2 weeks. We decided to split the costs of a rental car, giving us freedom to move wherever and whenever we wanted to! As we had already spent quite some time in Costa Rica at the farm or dealing with long days of bus travel, we were excited to have the freedom to move around. Our list of places to see was bound to get smaller, with Monteverde as our first stop.
A mistycal cloud forest (pun totally intended), seemed so grand to visit but once arriving we realized there wasn’t much free land to explore. Again, all the nice trails inquired a fee. We had a steep and slippery hike but considering it’s a cloud forest, arriving to the top we found ourselves inside the cloud.
There is a specific type of ficus tree, which wraps and suffocates other trees. These parasites end up as a hollow tree after, perfect to climb! Many times we have seen these ficus trees swallowing another tree but this was the first time we had seen a hollow one so big. Climbing all the way we felt like monkeys hanging in the tree tops looking out over the land. We reached all the way to the heights where sloths spend their whole lives.
The volcano of Arenal has several hot springs, most of them claimed by big resorts and hotels. We heard that Tabacon has a piece of the stream which is accessible for free, so we were bound to go for a dip! Arriving there we were surprised how the hot springs were not simply a pool but a strong stream of water. Different stone circles broke the stream and made it able to relax for hours. After bathing during the day we came up with the idea to get some candles and before we knew it we were enjoying the hot springs in the dark by candle light! What a dream! Rain fell softly as the three of us shared stories and laughs.
The peninsula of Nicoya intrigued us, so Paige definitely had to see this part of Costa Rica. We chose to stay in Casa Zen, right next to the well-known beach of Santa Teresa. The girls joined some yoga classes provided in the hostel and in between we would be enjoying the beach. One day we headed to Montezuma, bumpy roads which would lead us to discover more waterfalls, this time with Paige by our side.
From the Atlantic to the Caribbean, we crossed the whole country in one day. The distance isn’t so far but with a 4-hour traffic jam and central American roads, driving towards Cahuita took extra-long. The next day we immediately went for a walk in the national park right at the coast. This is a different Costa Rica! There’s no way to compare the Caribbean coast with the other side. The people, the Spanish accent, the vibe, the music, it’s all different. Further towards Panama we drove to Puerto Viejo and Manzanilla. The national park of Manzanilla was maybe a bit busy but definitely worth seeing.
Like mentioned before, the tourism industry is big in Costa Rica. Zip-lines and many other activities require trees to be cut down, which is not something you want to see happening in a beautiful country like this. Often, we felt like “pura vida” didn’t really apply. Although the image of Costa Rica is a green and ecologic one, still there’s a lot of primary jungle that’s sadly being cut down. Everything has two sides to it in life. Creating green energy is not simply done without having an influence on nature either, unlike many people think. Building a dam destroys big areas of the jungle, forcing tribes to move. It keeps water collected and prevents the rivers to flow how the jungle needs them to flow. And “eco tours” which meant driving with big buggies through the jungle, simply isn’t eco. Even solar panels take a huge amount of energy to make, plus a battery to charge! The ecologic movement won’t prevent or solve that we, human beings, are having an incredible impact on the world. We don’t say this to discourage a green movement, not at all. It’s simply the truth to say we have a long way to go if we want to live in balance with nature, or should we say a long way to go back…?
Our last day together with Paige on the Caribbean coast was stunning. After cloudy days the sun came out to greet us. We played in the waves, all three wishing the trip wasn’t coming to an end. Having Paige with us for 2 weeks was uplifting, our energies brought balance and joy to one another. It had been 2 years since her and Patricia had seen each other but even with distance and very little communication the bond was still there and grew even stronger. Sieger and Paige became great buddies and much knowledge was exchanged between the three of us. Not only was this the end of Paige’s trip, but Patricia was also flying back to the US a few days later. Sieger stayed a month longer, so his three months in the states would be overlapping Thanksgiving.
As we write this now, we are back in the states making a roadtrip with Roxy the Roadtrek, our 2000 dodge camper van, which definitely deserves a post in the future.
We’re happy that our words reach your eyes once again!
From our hearts to yours,
Patricia & Sieger