Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pura Vida! (Part 1)

I just got back from a most amazing trip to Costa Rica!  “Pura Vida” is kind of the Costa Ricans motto for their country.  Loosely translated, it means “life is good”.  I was able to spend 6 days testing it out.  I think their slogan is pretty accurate (as long as you are not driving at night). 

I went there with two girlfriends from high school, Michelle and Carrie.  It started as a random adventure that Carrie and I threw together.  Rob had been traveling for work non-stop and recently spent a few weeks in Peru so he suggested I take a trip someplace cool.  About a month before we were ready to leave Michelle worked some magic and was able to join us.  We all met in Atlanta at 9:30am on Saturday and traveled to Liberia, Costa Rica together.

Immediately upon arriving we got our rental car and got on the road.  We knew we had about 3-4 hour drive ahead of us.  We knew the roads weren’t going to be that great but that was the extent of our knowledge.  So, when we came across a random pizzeria on the side of the road, we couldn’t resist.

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Thus started our adventure.  It also started our first tastes of Imperial beer.  A beer, I’m convinced, I would think was complete crap at any other time, but it sure was delicious on this trip.  We were the only customers in the restaurant (not surprising given it’s completely remote location) and there was only one worker (out of 3) that spoke a tiny bit of English so I got to use my Spanish right off the bat (I’ve been taking an on-line course similar to Rosetta Stone).  We got what we wanted so I’ll call it a success.

After our long (and late) lunch, it was back on the road for more driving.  We stopped once to admire the view.  In the picture below is Lake Arenal.  It’s the largest man-made lake in Central America.  It powers over 40% of the country.  When they planned the lake, they put absolutely zero planning into the road surrounding it.  What followed was some of the most stressful 2 hours I have ever spent in a car. 

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The roads were up and down and left and right.  Fallen trees were covering parts of the road, bridges were single lanes (and just barely), and it was crazy dark by 4pm.  But, we finally made it to our hotel around 5:30 and immediately found our way to the natural hot springs….and more Imperial.

2-5

Jose was our bartender and told us whatever we were drinking was his specialty.  While he made these drinks Carrie and I questioned him about snakes.  Michelle was adamant there were no dangerous snakes around and Carrie and I were certain there was.  I said “Jose, do you guys have snakes around here?” and he paused with a goofy smile debating what he should say to the tourists.  Finally he just said “Si.”  I said, “Are they bad snakes?” and he said “Si.”  I said “Where do you find them?” and he said “On that railing next to you.”.  That pretty much ended our night.

Our first hotel was in La Fortuna.  It was called El Silencio del Campo (“The Silence of the Forest”).  Sounded like a little bit of a creepy name, but it was anything but creepy. 

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It was a beautifully manicured place made up of about 15 of these little cabins.  The staff was incredibly friendly, and it had several natural hot springs.  The picture below is one of the smaller springs.

3-5

Included in our stay was one free facial.  Well, that wouldn’t work with three girls, so we decided to all get a facial and split the cost of the 2 extra.

5-5

It was straight out of a magazine.  Facials might be my favorite indulgence ever so I don’t say this lightly, but that experience was amazing.  It was everything Aveda tries to replicate, only it was truly natural things they make fresh daily.

And for good measure (sorry if you’re already bored, but this is my “scrapbook” so too bad), here’s a couple other pictures of the surrounding area:

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It probably would have been a photographer’s paradise.  But, I had to make do with my old camera that has an extremely dirty lens.  So, from here on out, picture the colors 10x more vibrant than what I’ve captured.

That’s probably enough for now.  Part 2 will be our first scheduled adventure…horseback riding.

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