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Costa Rica: The first week

Costa Rica: The first week

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Do you know the way to San Jose?  Sorry, couldn't resist it.

After a mercifully uneventful flight I land in the hustling, bustling capital of Costa Rica, albeit three hours behind schedule.  But I don't mind - I'M ALIVE!!!!

I'm picked up by Diego who takes me to Hostel Urbano.  Having never stayed in a hostel before and having read horror stories on the internet I am, quite frankly, delighted by what I find: a spotlessly clean room and the friendliest, most helpful staff you could wish for.

The following day I take a bus (I like me some public transport - makes me feel like a local!) over to a town called Heredia where I am to meet Rolando and his gorgeous little pup Paco.  I got in touch with Rolando via couchsurfing.org, a website which unites travellers from all over the world. Basically you offer your spare room or couch to like-minded travellers, a kind of language/cultural interchange if you will. May sound a big dodgy but it's perfectly safe and it's like ebay in the sense that you leave feedback for the people that host you so that subsequent travellers can be assured that they're not lodging with a knife wielding maniac.  In any case, Rolando and his pooch were the perfect hosts and we went for a beautiful hike into the hills, explored a colourful market where I drank some yummy coconut water straight from the source.

From Heredia I caught the bus to La Fortuna, a very busy tourist hub where I spent three nights.  During the bus journey I sat next to a mother and daughter, Eli and Celeste, and we were soon chatting as though we had been friends for years!  They were kind enough to spend the afternoon showing me around La Fortuna and as a thank you I took them out to dinner that evening.

My lodgings for the next few nights was the Arenal Hostel Resort; spacious rooms, pool, an abundance of hammocks, friendly staff (Jose the barman made a mean virgin cocktail!) and a deeelicious buffet style breakfast.  I had booked myself into an all-female dorm and inhabiting the bunk opposite me was Anat from Israel; red-headed and freckly, surely my sister from another mister!  Above me and and above Anat were, respectively, Hemmie and Adriana, two fabulous chicks from Cal-i-forn-ia.  You know when you meet someone and right from the word go it's like BAM - we are destined to be friends?  Well that's how it was with those two gorgeous gals and I continue to keep in touch with all three ladies and am convinced we will meet again someday, somewhere.

Several days into the trip and I'm beginning to realise that Costa Rica is far more expensive that I had anticipated.  Tourism is, as you can imagine, one of the main industries and as such they capitalise upon us poor, unsuspecting holidaymakers.  I found it rather irksome to begin with but had to just suck it up and pay the prices!  And the truth is that the tours I went on were worth every penny.
 

My first excursion was on horseback to a stunning waterfall.  Utter paradise, no other way to put it.  The following day I went canyoneering.  This involves rappelling down cliff faces and getting completely and utterly soaked.  No pictures of this tour for obvious reasons.

My time in La Fortuna was all too short and before I knew it I was on a boat taking me to my next destination: Monteverde.  With a whole host of tours on offer I opted, once again, to get on the back of a horse.  You may not know this about me but I love, love, LOVE horse-riding and one day plan on having my own Black Beauty.  But a chestnut version; needs to go with my hair.  This particular ride took us galloping through banana plantations and coffee farms and just as we were on the home straight the heavens opened and we were soaked to the skin.  My cheap cag in a bag from ebay didn't stand a chance!

The following day was my busiest to date as I had booked myself onto THREE tours - triple the fun baby!  Zip-lining through the forest canopy occupied my morning.  The views as your soared through the air truly were incredible and this picture doesn't do it any justice whatsoever.  But it's the best I could do.  

Having enjoyed the horse-ride so much the day before I opted to do it again!  But this time it was just me and my lovely guide Rafa.  It was even better as the fog from the day before had cleared and you could see for miles around.  There have only been a few moments in my life where I have found myself completely in awe of my surroundings and this was one of them.  In any case, I must inform you that I am hopelessly in love.  He is strong, muscular, fair and has captured my heart. His name is Morro.

Third and final tour of the day was the La Caminata Nocturna - the night walk.  We spent 2 hours walking through the pitch black forest with our guide and torches in an attempt to see as many different animals and creepy crawlies as possible: a viper, tarantula, red ants (which bite.  And they did.) and my personal favourite, a baby sloth and its mother.

My stay in Monteverde was short but very sweet.  The same could not be said for the ensuing bus journey which was to take me to meet my dear friend Staci and her family in Playa Portrero.  Remember Staci from last week's post?  My friend who decided to move to Costa Rica with her husband and four kiddos for no other reason other than to have the adventure of a lifetime?  Well that is who I was on my way to see. AND I COULD NOT WAIT.  The only thing between me and my Stacers was windy, bumpy roads and a driver who appeared to favour speed over our feelings of well-being and comfort.

It was the sweetest of reunions with my dear friend and her family.  There is something even more exciting about meeting up with friends in a place that neither of you are from!  I knew that once I left Staci the backpacking would begin in earnest and so I took advantage of these few lazy days to relax, catch up with my bestie and spend time with the kiddos. We ate, drank (coke from glass bottles of course), swam, took long walks and simply enjoyed being with each other.  And I marvelled at Staci, at the incredible, compassionate, patient and kind mother she is to those four children.  They lucked out, there is no doubt about it.

Parting is such sweet sorrow but part we did.  As hard as it was to say goodbye I was eager to get back on the road - there were adventures to be had, people to meet, more horses to ride!

But that's another story for another time.  Next Tuesday to be precise.  But for now..

Ginger Warrior, over and out.

P.S.  Tell me about a moment in your life, when travelling somewhere, that was so utterly beautiful that it took your breath away.

Tomorrow, for

WHATEVER WEDNESDAY,

I will be introducing you to a very, very special friend of mine.

You're going to love her, I  just know it!

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