Costa Rica Recap

Gardens at the guesthouse

I just reread the post below and realized that I never even commented on the trip.

Needless to say everything I expected was thrown out the window once I got there, as usual. No matter how much you prepare and read, the reality always strikes you when you get off the plane.
I was immediately able to use my Spanish which thrilled me throughout the trip. Waiting in line at passport control was even interesting. I happened to be behind several sailors or the non-military variety. In front of this group of 3, there was a kid (all Americans), who happened to be of the same trade, heard them talking and then struck up conversation. It was a fascinating conversation that I was trying desperately to appear that I wasn't listening to. It was an elaborate story of how their boat was apprehended by law enforcement by a near by country because they had a weapon on board that they hadn't claimed. It was quite the entrance to the country.

The taxi ride to my guesthouse was just as interesting. I was extremely late, but my taxi driver was thankfully there holding a sign with my name on it. I was so thankful that I speak Spanish, as he did not speak any English. We chatted and I asked a lot of questions. We went through what must have been the automotive section of San Jose because everywhere you looked on both sides of the street for miles, had something to do with cars or motorcycles. It was pretty rough looking. We continued on this way for a while, and then we were driving what felt like all over the place. Twisting and turning and speeding through the streets. Eventually we pulled over and stopped, he asked me to wait in the car, and said he had to pick something up, what could I do, I sat there. The less than ten minutes that I was sitting there felt like an hour. There were people walking by everywhere, and there I was windows down twiddling my thumbs trying to think of how much cash I had on me in case anything happened. It was one of those moments where my gut reaction was, this is not ok. It turned out to be fine but it was one of those situations that could have been really bad. I arrived safely at the guest house, and settled in for the night.

 The following morning I got picked up by some of the people in the yoga group I would be with for the week including the instructor. We took a long drive down to the Caribbean Coast, through the cloud forest and some harrowing roads. I have never seen such large leaves in my life. The plant life on the side of the road in the cloud forest was massive. For a couple of miles I felt like I was in Jurassic Park. We arrived at our destination, Samasati Retreat Center at dusk. We were greeted with a glorious vegetarian meal. It was the first of what would become one of the best eating weeks of my life thus far. 

After dinner we were shown to our huts. I had assumed that since I was solo and didn't pay extra they would bunk me with someone but they did not. I arrived at my hut and was totally surprised. Besides the fact that they were very cute and basically out of some rustic magazine, there was a huge bed and it had a second floor. I couldn't believe I was going to be the only one staying in this hut. The nearest hut was about 30 paces away. It all seemed great until I got in my head. I started to think about the deadly snakes in Costa Rica and all of the bugs that were sure to show up in said hut. I had some lights on at this point and promptly turned them off because they were attracting all sorts of bugs to the screens (thankfully there were screens). I didn't really unpack because I figured I want to keep everything non-buggy and in my bag. I tried to settle in and think about bed after the long travel day, but just as I did a massive unidentifiable bug runs/flies across the room. Sad to say that I didn't not adhere to my ahimsa (non-harming) intentions and I smashed it forcefully. It was disgusting. From then on my night was pretty much a comical running commentary on the situation. My brain was in overdrive. I kept checking my bed for bugs and snakes. When I shut the light off it was so dark I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. It was a unique level of darkness. Rain forest dark. And then there was the rain forest soundtrack which literally sounds like a CD but turned up really high. It was a lot to get used to. Needless to say I did not get a lot of sleep that night or any of the first three.

view from Samasati Nature Retreat
 The next morning I rolled out of my hut, exhausted, and headed down some unknown path in the rain forest to the yoga studio for our morning class. My body refused to cooperate given the lack of sleep. We were scheduled for a morning yoga class, midday workshop and an evening yoga class as a part of our program. This meant that there was a lot of free time during the day. For some reason this was an issue for me. This was my first trip since my 2007 backpacking trip and I was having trouble just hanging around doing nothing and reading. Normally I love to read, but I think my constant lookout for insects and animals had me distracted. It was about this time that the ants started marching. They were marching in a line across the lounge/lunch/seating area. No one seemed to be concerned about this even though they bite. I never realized how skittish I was about insects until this trip. Apparently every day the arts go marching. They march uphill and through whatever is in their way and there is nothing to be done. It was fascinating but also horrifying because of the sheer number of them. The staff said don't worry they'll be gone in an hour or two, and sure enough they were right, but in the meantime I ate lunch with a line of ants running across the table. It was a new experience to say the least.

Hammock at my hut.

Yoga Studio
For all my big and small freak outs over the first three days I did eventually settle in and enjoy the beauty around me. I was also able to go on some excursions which was great for my peace of mind. I like to relax but I can only do it for so long before I want to go do something. I took three main excursions from the rain forest, the cocoa trail through Cahuita National Park, a visit to the town of Puerto Viejo, zip lining trip deeper into the rain forest and a trip to Punta Uva Beach. Each had its own charm and it was nice to dedicate a day to each. Cahuita however was the best in my opinion, we saw iguanas, sloths, monkeys (several varieties), birds and gators. Our guide was amazing and I played a sort of translator for his Spanglish. He was straight out of the rain forest. He didn't wear shoes our entire tour, put far too many of us in a canoe and could spot a camouflaged animal from the middle of the river. He was amazing. I could not have asked for a better guide and any tour that ends on a beach with crashing waves is ok with me.


Cahuita Beach


Zip lining was pretty awesome. It is so interesting to see the rain forest from in the canopy instead of on the ground. It is a totally different perspective. We were also able to see a number species up in the trees, massive ants and other insects, more sloths and of course there was the ever present howl of the howler monkeys. They are said to mostly be active in the morning and night but I could hear them all through this day. It was a nice half day excursion, I recommend it wherever it is available. Public service announcement, don't wear flip flops!

Zip Lining