Wednesday, February 12, 2014

La Pura Vida en Costa Rica

Michael and I just got back from our first trip together sans our beautiful baby!  We enjoyed 8 days in the unbelievably beautiful country, Costa Rica.  Michael has been wanting to go to Costa Rica for years.  I wanted somewhere tropical.  So Costa Rica it was.  We have had a few other friends visit and completely love it and now we can completely agree.  We booked our tickets in the summer.  We were excited to use our air points and hotel points.  We had hoped that we could book them more in March/April but with blackout dates, end of January it was!  So travel itinerary for us was Hawaii in December.  Costa Rica in January.  I doubt we will ever be able to beat that line up again! Rough life!
Leading up to our trip we both started getting nervous about not having our girl with us.  We knew she would be fine with Grandma Shields but we were anxious about what WE would do without HER!  Overall, we knew this trip was what we needed. It was terrific to just be a married couple for a week.

Another fun before-travel tid bit is the fact that at 9:45 PM the night before we were to fly out, Michael asks me if I know where my passport is.  I replied the spot that it's always in.  He replies no it's not there. He just looked.  Immediate panic and bewilderment occurs.  We literally ripped our house to shreds looking EVERYWHERE for that darn thing! Seriously my house was a disaster.  Definitely NOT the way I had planned on leaving it while my mother in law stayed there!  Around midnight, we gave up the search and decided the only thing we could do is hustle down to Tucson in the morning to get an emergency same day passport.  (There are very few of these sites around the whole country so the fact that one is only two hours from me was a huge blessing.)
After pretending to sleep, I got up at 5.  Continued the search based off of my dream that that my passport was just on my closet shelf. (It was not just on my closet shelf.)  Then my mother in law, Laila and I rolled out around 6:20 to be to Tucson when the business opened at 8:30.  Meanwhile praying that we are able to get back in time for my 1:20 flight.
We get there, they get all my paperwork rather quickly, get started on my 90 minute wait.  Then I find out that the passport pic I brought doesn't work because it was an extra from my last passport.  I speed to WalMart, run frantically through the store, take a picture that I'm pretty much crying in, and race back.  Then I watch the clock quickly betray me.  At 11, I have a hot passport and a get away car.  Miracle of miracles, I get to the airport at 12:45!  Luckily, Michael had been able to check in our luggage and get our boarding passes.  We RUN through the airport, SLOWLY get through security and get to our gate at 1:05 to find out that our flight was delayed because of airplane maintenance and we ended up switching planes. PHEW!!  I feel I NEEDED this vacation after that experience.  8 warm days to erase that insane 13 hours!

Miraculously, we made it to Costa Rica.  We stayed near the airport the first night, then drove out to the Pacific Ocean side of the country and checked into our beach side resort in Los Suenos.  We enjoyed a day trip out to Tortuga Island where we went paddle boarding, kayaking and snorkeling.  They also provided a phenomenal fajita lunch. YUM!

The next morning, we went on a "Crocodile Man" tour. It was unbelievable. We rode in a boat that was pretty low to the water.  Then when the driver saw a crocodile, he would get out and slap raw pieces of chicken against the water and we watched as these massive crocodiles would creep up closer and closer and then eat the chicken practically from the man's hands! UNBELIEVABLE!

 ^ We also got some souvenirs. Very fun morning! :)

Later that afternoon, we harnessed up and took a tractor to the top of the rainforest so that we could enjoy the beautiful canopy via 14 zip lines!

It was unbelievable  how high up we were and thrilling zipping through the rainforest like Tarzan! It took about 1.5 hours to reach the bottom!

We also spent a day relaxing around the pool, feeding Iguanas, and enjoying a round a golf. (Jenn translation: Riding in the cart and reading!)

 ^And let's not forget our room service dinner during the Super Bowl.

When I imagined what Costa Rica looked like, I imagined our next excursion.  We rode a jeep to the top of the mountain and into the jungle to hike, repel, jump off, and play in some waterfalls.  It was probably my favorite of all our activities. Our guide, Randall, was fun and very informational.  

 ^Randall selfie. awesome.

Quite the adventure!

That night we enjoyed a date at the hotel restaurant.  It was very delicious! I loved the architecture of the hotel.

The next day, we just hung out, took a walk on the beach, lived the pool life, then checked out.

We checked into a hotel closer to the airport because the next day we were going river rafting which was closer to the airport than the beach and the day after we were headed home. FYI River rafting the day before you fly home is the perfect way to distract you from how much you miss your baby.  
We were the first on the route to be picked up on our way up to the rainforest.  (we were about 30 mins from the Caribbean side of the country now.)  Therefore, we were up SUPER early.  We got to the river lodge and ate some Costa Rican rice and beans for breakfast (along with some fruit and omelets) and then we got on the river.  It was BEAUTIFUL!  There were some great rapids. The Pacuare River is where the International Rafting Competition was held a few years ago.  The lush rainforest surrounding the water was breathtaking.  We were on the river for about 5 hours.  It was a full day of fun!

 ^ I seriously thought we were going to flip on this one. INTENSE!

It was unbelievably beautiful!  I'm so glad we were able to go.  It was the perfect "marriage buoy" and an adventurous get away.   In Costa Rica, they use the term "Pura Vida" or pure life all the time. For example if someone asks "how's it going?" They respond "Pura Vida."  I love the expression.  We will see if I can make it happen in the US.  We are already plotting our return to Costa Rica.  Hopefully, one day, we will be able to go back.  Want to come?