Wednesday, May 22, 2013

adventure, aventura, avontuur!

Buenas, chicos! It's been a little while since I've updated you on my escapades around Costa Rica!

Since April, I have been traveling around with a group of crazy kids about my age, figuring out what this place has to offer. We are all expats living in/around San Jose, working or doing internships.
Most of the people in the group are leaving in June so they've been trying to get as much traveling done as they can before they go. 

It started out as just a few cool kids who worked & lived together and now the group just keeps getting bigger! In one weekend, the dinner table is likely to be filled with as many as 6 languages (English, Spanish, Dutch, German, French, Swedish). Whoever we meet one weekend is free to join us the next. Really, the more the merrier. 

The next few blog posts will my experiences and tips about the places we've visited! 

1. La Fortuna

I almost missed out on this adventure- it was Friday afternoon and I had a 10 page essay due on Saturday. Fortunately, Suzanne convinced me to take my computer along and finish this essay on the 5 hour bus ride to La Fortuna and just submit it when I arrived. I was a little more than hesitant to do this but I'm definitely glad I did! Here's why:

Even though I had already been to La Fortuna, I still had a perfect weekend filled with new people and new memories.

We stayed at the nicest hostel that I've visited yet: Arenal Backpackers 5 Star Hostel.

The only down side was that there was no kitchen- usually at hostels I like to make dinner to save a little bit of $$$.

We visited (and swam in) the La Fortuna Waterfall.

This was an easy-medium hike. You follow steep steps down the mountain until you reach the waterfall! The hardest part are the steps on the way back up!
It's a frequently traveled/high tourist attraction.

We got to enjoy a cloudless view of the Arenal Volcano.

Even though Arenal hasn't erupted in quite a few years, it's still just as beautiful as ever! 

Suus just getting a better view of Arenal!

We had a magical evening in the hot springs at Tabacon Hot Springs.

We chose these hot springs because they were natural hot springs (rather than the man made pools at many other resorts). It still had a resort feel but I could tell the difference between these rivers & the other man-made hot springs that I had visited previously. 

We had such nice, fun, & relaxing time!

Plus, the trip was really not too difficult. To get to La Fortuna, I would suggest taking a bus from San Jose to Ciudad Quesada. Then, catch a bus to La Fortuna from there.

On the way back, I actually took a different route (thanks to a suggestion from a nice Tica lady). I took a bus from La Fortuna to San Ramon. Then, I connected with a bus to San Jose from there.

Both ways were pretty simple. The only problems on the way home were: 1. I just had to ask the bus driver on the first (La Fortuna-San Ramon) bus how to get to the San Jose bus station in San Ramon (a 1 min walk) & 2. The San Ramon-San Jose bus didn't drop us off at the San Jose Coca Cola Station so I really wished that I had gotten off a few stops before at La Sabana Park.

The girl that I sat next to on the bus from San Ramon-San Jose
gave me this card as a present!
(The lizard is made out of real butterfly wings-super cool.)

2. Montezuma 

This was another favorite weekend that I've had since I've been in Costa Rica. Montezuma is pretty much a one street town on the Nicoya Peninsula that has a cozy friendly feel. During the day, you can explore the nearby waterfall, enjoy the beaches, and take many different exciting tours. At night, there is one bar right on the beach that gets packed out. They have the works: music, street fire shows, dancing, etc.

These crabs were everywhere.
Our group was so big this weekend that we had to stay at two hostels. My half of the group stayed at Luz en Cielo

This was one of the smaller hostels that I've been to but it included breakfast so I was pleased, nonetheless.

First, we risked our lives climbing in and around the Montezuma Waterfalls

Warning: if you are not someone who is readily up for adventure- this may not be for you. 

The Montezuma Waterfalls encompass three different levels of waterfalls that pour into one another. We had the frightening privilege of starting at the bottom and climbing our way around to the top. 

We didn't have per-say a "guide" the whole time, but we sort of followed the locals ahead of us. This may have been a bad idea since they were the ones who were crazy enough to jump off the waterfalls from seriously ridiculous heights. Nonetheless, we survived- barely- by carefully watching our step as we climbed up steep rock faces without as much as a harness. 

Since I LOVE rock climbing, I had a blast! But if you decide to go, don't wear flip flops. 

yep, that's me!

The next day, we relaxed a little and took a boat tour to Tortuga Island.

The boat tour included lunch, drinks, snorkeling, & a complimentary dolphin sighting! We laughed the day away on this gorgeous beach- splashing in the water and playing beach volleyball in the sand! I think I still have sand in my things from this day.

We saw dolphins!

I still can't believe it. Way too cool.

There were so many!

That night, we danced the night away at Chico's Bar- located right on the beach!

Fire dancing in the street!

This trip required a little bit more effort. On this particular weekend, the majority of us had Friday off because President Obama was coming into San Jose  and all the roads would be blocked. Crazy that one person can have that much effect- I know- but we chose to make the most of it! 

First, we took a bus from San Jose to Puntarenas. Once we were in Puntarenas, we took a taxi to the ferry port and hopped onto a ferry (after buying a ticket of course) that took us to Paquera. There we were supposed to take a bus from Paquera to Cobano and another bus from Cobano to Montezuma...but somehow we ended up opting for the easier and quicker options: a taxi. Split between all of us, the taxi was only just a few dollars more.

On the way home, I took the less economic but much faster route because I had a bad stomach ache and needed to get home. I took a taxi boat from Montezuma to Jaco and a bus from Jaco to San Jose (but they let me out early in Santa Ana!). This trip took about the half of the time or less than the alternate route.  

While we're on the boat theme, I'll leave you with a quote that I painted a while back...

"A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for." 

Next up, Manuel Antonio & The Crocodile Man Tour in Tarcoles! Check back tomorrow for more pictures and good old Costa Rica lovin'.

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