Qué lindo es este país

Hola!

It’s been a while, so I thought I’d catch up a bit! The last time I wrote was after my cooking class in Guatemala, and since then I am back into the full swing of things at home and work this semester. There are less than two months left before IB exams (seniors are still kicking butt!) and only three and a half months left of the school year. It’s so crazy how time flies; I still can’t believe that I am almost done with my second year here in Costa Rica!

This year has been super busy, between baby showers, birthday dinners, pizza nights, yoga class, dance class, karaoke nights, soccer games, Spanish class, and the regular day-to-day stuff. School has also been keeping me busy, from after-school tutoring to even a few Saturdays on campus! The good news, though, is that I’ve somehow still been able to find time to explore different parts of this gorgeous country.

That brings me to the point of this post, which is to share some pics and stories from the last couple months of travel and exploration. Since I don’t want this to take a year to write or a year for you to read, I’ll just give a quick summary of each excursion, followed by pics. So, I’ll just get right to it!

Peralta, Cartago Province

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Peralta is an extremely small town in the province of Cartago (in the cantón of Turrialba). The closest city is Turrialba, which is más o menos two hours from San Jose. According to the hand-painted sign in the town centre, there are 560 inhabitants in Peralta.

My friend Rob invited me and Pod to join him and his friend Nella for a little weekend excursion, and we were happy to accept! It was a really fun weekend. There isn’t much in Peralta beyond a cheese factory, a soda, a bar, and the trifecta of a church, soccer field, and playground (and, of course, the friendliest people on earth), but that’s what I loved about it. It was quiet, peaceful, and beautiful.

Activities included walking to see a really cool bridge, buying freshly-made cheese at the cheese factory, taking a three-hour nap, taking a two-hour nap, making wood-oven homemade pizza (using the aforementioned fresh cheese), going on an awesome hike to an abandoned railroad tunnel, hanging by the pool, being carsick, watching the Saprissa game, and more. It was a really fun weekend!

Playa Hermosa, Puntarenas

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A beach day was much overdue in February, I went on a little weekend excursion with a couple of girl friends. As a bonus, it was right around Rebecca’s birthday, and what better way to celebrate than with sun, sand, and fun! We rented a car and got out of Dodge on Friday after school, so we had a full weekend at the beach. We rented a great little bungalow, which was about 100 meters from the beach (I’m finally mostly able to think in meters!). There was a also a great pool for extra lounging excitement.

The weekend was definitely super relaxing. Activities included beach (obviously), pool (also obviously), movie night, shopping, dinner out, watching the sunset, jumping pics, and relaxation. It definitely was the perfect escape from the concrete jungle (don’t forget, I actually live in a city, which happens to be in the mountains, where it’s cold. So, while I’m within a few hours’ drive to paradise, the rest of the time I’m part of the rat race just like the rest of you!). My favorite part was an impromptu photo shoot on the beach (the aforementioned jumping pics), but those of you who’ve known me for a while know I have a very strict no-bathing-suit-pics-on-the-internet rule, so I’ll just share a few of the other highlights instead!

La Isla Tortuga, Puntarenas

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This trip was something different because it was super touristy, and we normally don’t do touristy things if we can help it. However, there were a few people in our community who were having birthdays, and Tracey organized this trip for a group of us. It was so fun! To be honest, it was pretty nice to just be taken around without having to make any real decisions. We went by bus, so the people who usually get stuck driving didn’t even have to worry about traffic and all that! It was a full-day tour that left from San Jose, and it included transportation (bus to the port and then a really fun catamaran ride to and from the island), breakfast, lunch, and activities (snorkeling and banana boat, although I fell asleep on a hammock for two hours and missed the banana boat). The beach was beautiful, and the water was perfect! We had almost five hours on the island, and it was yet another fantastic way to escape the city, get some sun, and spend quality time with friends.

I didn’t ask anyone’s permission to post group pics, so I’ll just be posting pics of myself (in the least narcissistic way possible). But hopefully this smattering will give you an idea of the day and how pretty La Isla Tortuga is! We went through Calypso Cruises if you wanted to look into it. The lunch was DELISH.

Monte Sky, Cartago Province

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Monte Sky is an ecological site in Cartago province, and it has great hiking, a stunning waterfall, and breathtaking views. Chelsea was taking a couple student teachers to go hiking there, so she invited me and Pod along for the ride. It was a one-day trip that was super fun. Aside from getting to know Caroline and Caitlin, it was awesome to be out experiencing nature. The air felt crisp, which is rare here and made me think of home. I loved the smell of the forest and the fact that we couldn’t hear any motos from the trail. And did I mention the stunning waterfall?

Quite honestly, I thought I was going to die after the first five minutes. The way up to the little building where you pay was demasiado steep, and I’ve got to admit that I was struggling. I’m torn between blaming the altitude and blaming myself for being out of shape, but I’m leaning toward the altitude thing. Luckily, though, it wasn’t as steep once we passed the outpost, and we all made it to the waterfall in one piece (not without a lot of slipping and sliding on the rocks and mud, though!). We hiked, took lots of waterfall pics, had first lunch back at the outpost, had second lunch at a local soda (apparently we are hobbits), and were home for naps by 3 or so. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday! It was a great adventure indeed!

My favorite part about the place was all the little inspirational signs they had posted along the way. The best one (in my opinion) was the one that says “Seamos felices,” which means “Let’s be happy.” 

Oh, and side note, Pod and Caitlin rappeled one of the waterfalls! Due to my previously-mentioned fear of dying that day, I did not rappel. I regret nothing.

Catarata Río Agrio, Alajuela Province

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My most recent adventure was today, when our little hiking group got together again and set off on another waterfall quest. This time we headed north to Río Agrio, which was near San Carlos, Alejuela. This was a little farther away (about two hours), but totally worth the trip! Luckily we got there pretty early because this hike is REALLY popular with ticos, and the trail was extremely crowded! Even so, it was another great day. Fortunately the hike wasn’t as steep as the last one, so I wasn’t stressed about my survival, other than when scaling rocks and forging rivers (but I mean who doesn’t love scaling rocks and forging rivers??). I only fell once, and due to the irony of the fact that I fell immediately after this convo:

Pod: We are like professional hikers by now!

Me: I know, I’m so proud of us!

, I didn’t mind so much that I fell. Also, I was lucky enough to fall on the softest pile of dirt ever, so all we could do was laugh.

The best part of this hike (for me, at least) was traipsing through the rivers (you can’t get to the falls without walking knee-deep through the water). There’s something kind of freeing about getting over that “but Imma get my shoes wet” fear and just saying screw it. The waterfall was beautiful (aren’t they all?), and again I loved getting out into nature.

After the hike, we went to a swimming hole (Poza Celeste) with beautiful sky blue (celeste, hence the name) water. I didn’t swim, but I did get a nice nap on some rocks! (I don’t think I ever noticed how much I nap until I had to write about naps so much in this post.) I soaked my feet in the icy water to soothe them a bit after being pent up in my hiking boots all day. From there, we had a crazy ride home along some perilous roads, had a great lunch at a restaurant with a mirador, and were home around 4:30 or 5. I am sounding redundant by now, but it was yet again another perfect day!

And this brings me to the end of my weekend excursion wrap-up! If you’ve stuck with me this far, thanks so much! If not, that’s cool, too! Either way, pura vida!

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