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The Happiest Place on Earth… Costa Rica

I am sure everyone has one trip that comes to mind when asked about your best vacation ever, or favorite place you have ever been.

Well, in my line of work that question comes up basically daily.

That leads to this post… I meant to write about my trip when I first returned, but things happens and somehow I never got around to it. I think it’ll be even better now though. After going on multiple other trips to awesome places, I realize just how magical my Costa Rica trip was. I don’t know if I could ever portray how alive I felt on this trip, or the awe that us 5 girls continually had….  but I’m thinking playing it out like a picture book might be my best try at it.

It’s funny, because as the trip and itinerary planner, I have been asked how I picked Montezuma, Costa Rica to visit. I don’t have an answer…  As with everything flight attendants do, it came together last minute… within like 2 weeks. I didn’t even know where to start searching, and just googled where in costs rica had 3 things: waterfalls, zip lining, and beachMontezuma came up quite a few times so I started looking into it.  Found a few lodges, B & B’s, many hostels, and 1 resort.  I booked a hotel/lodge at Amor de Mar, and they helped book transportation from San Jose which is a few hours away.

We took off on the adventure with 4 girls… which ended up being 5 when Samantha made a surprise appearance in San Jose.  Most of us didn’t know at least 1 or 2 of the others in the group, but we quickly established friendships.   I wont bore you with every detail of the trip, but do want to skim the experiences that we had.

We had quite a few adventures…

-walking up interstate off ramps in downtown San Jose… 

-Samantha’s 2 am arm numbing spider bite scare, when we realized we literally were in the middle of no where, and no Doctor could make it to see her within like 2 hours.

-Catching the public bus back to San Jose ( a 6 hour trip, ferry transfer included) not knowing any Spanish or where the heck we were until we pulled up to the airport, & by the grace of God were awake and watching. 

-Corals accidental nudist moment on the rope swing in front of the zip line crew,

-our much anticipated run in with the monkeys on a walk home… who ended up throwing mangoes at us. No seriously, monkeys in the wild = rude. 

– picking wild bananas in Costa Rica was an epic fail, as they are sticky as hell and taste really bad (thank you Shenna for taking one for the team and trying it first).

Zip lining through the rainforest and over the Montezuma waterfalls… and a stop to cool off in the falls…



The TOP of the jungle, overlooking the Gulf of Nicoya coastline

-Of course we did the longest line upside down…  It was unbelievable! Apparently I missed the instructions that you are supposed to raise up before you get to the platform though. Luckily the platform is farther from the line than I was tall.

                         

-The ride through San Jose traffic and then the ferry ride/booze cruise. We may be the only people to have packed mimosas just for the 1.5 hr ferry ride to the peninsula, but we had a great time…
-The hotel itself deserves a few words.  It was unbelievably beautiful and quaint, and authentic, and organic, and has so much personality. We got to know the employees, made friends with other guests, and thoroughly enjoyed the organic breakfast and smoothies every morning.

Picture it with me…  All of these views, from dozens of hammocks thrown up in the back of the hotel.  If that isn’t convincing enough,  there is a natural tide pool we swam in everyday that is heated by the sun during the day.  Still not convinced? The waterfalls trickle into the stream beside the hotel, and I swear laying in it and letting the cool water go by and then exfoliating with the tiny rocks was more relaxing that any spa visit I’ve had.

-Ok, enough with the relaxation talk for now.  I feel like it is time to introduce Chicos bar.  You must understand that this is a one dirt road town…

….and everything can be reached by foot.  Obviously that means there isn’t much to the town… a few little restaurant that I wont even mention because that’s another blog post entirely.  The food was to die for, prices unbelievably cheap, and both places we went to for dinner were located on the beach… literally, candle lit and toes in the sand.  But, back on track… there are a couple of tour guide places, one convenience store, and Chicos.  The only bar in town. 
How she kept up with those coffee beans all night, I’ll never know…

 If the locals were not aware that there were Flight attendants from FL in town… The next day they were.  By then we had an invitation passed along through another hotel guest for surf lessons, and the bar knew exactly what to pour us when we arrived the next night.  Which brings me to…

REGGAE NIGHT

Every Thursday night…  reggae night at Chicos start is signaled by the fire dancers.  A few glasses of wine in, and we were in complete awe.  Coral even tried to learn…


 

-We made so many friends that night.  And really discovered that people lived in little Montezuma from literally all over the world.  I give most of this credit to Shenna, for being a dancing social butterfly and pulling anyone and everyone watching us have the time of our life out on the dance floor too.

-At Chicos we realized that we needed to track down this surf instructor who wanted to give us lessons.  Shenna went to the bartender to ask if he knew Mauricio, and he pointed 2 stools down and said sure do, that’s him.  Score.  A dance partner, and surf lessons set up for the AM.
-The next morning was not pretty. By the time we woke up, we had maybe 30 min to pack up, eat breakfast, check out, and head out for surf lessons.  30 minutes is not long enough to cure a tequila hangover.  Another thing that sure doesn’t help… an unexpected 45 minute walk/hike to the beach we would learn to surf at.

to

 

We walked through light and grainy sand beaches…

To trails through the middle of the jungle


              to beaches where you sink a foot into the dark sand…

   

 To beaches of multi-colored smooth rocks and a reddish sand… 

Up mountainsides of jagged rocks… barefoot

Straight to a beach of driftwood, or one of completely unbroken seashells

-We walked… and walked… and walked it seemed.  Please keep in mind.  Tequila, early morning, exhausting trip, plus a very hot sun beating down on you…   And yet, it was one of the most unique things I’ve ever experienced.  Just the miserable walk alone… I’ve never seen such variety of side by side beaches, different just from weaving in and out of the jungle.

-Finnnnalllly we make it to the beach shack that holds the surf boards…   Surfs up dude.  Almost.  I will admit,  after watching all the other girls pop up on most of their first try… I was pretty convinced that as a D1 athlete, I was going to do the exact same thing.

Surfing is much harder than they made it look.   I think I drank maybe 3x more saltwater, and was by far the least graceful one…. but dang it, I got up and rode a couple of waves before I retired.

Then we hustled back to the hotel, threw on clothes, and ran to the bus stop to catch our red-eye home.  
A phrase widely used there, that as a TN girl I was completely new to: 

Pura Vida (POO-rah VEE-dah), used by Costa Ricans since 1956, literally translated means “Pure Life.” Contextually, it means “Full of Life” “Purified life”, “This is living!”, “Going great!” It is used as a greeting, a farewell, and to express satisfaction. The phrase has become widely known in the USA and Europe. Some foreigners view the phrase as an expression of a leisurely lifestyle, of disregard for time and wanton friendliness. However, Costa Ricans use the phrase to express a philosophy of strong community, perseverance, good spirits, enjoying life slowly, celebrating good fortune, whether small or large.”




I have to say, I totally get it now… OK, maybe not totally… but I don’t think the beautiful woman walking down the street with half her head shaved, (that turned out to be our Argentinian waitress), is crazy in the slightest for visiting Montezuma and just never going home.  Or Lucas, our waiter the second night… or probably 25% of the people we met.  They came for vacation and never left.  It’s tempting.   No worries… no hustle at the work place… no honking horns of impatient people.  No stress about owning, well… anything. Material items probably mean that you get judged… not the other way around.  Simple.  Back to the basics.  Enjoying life and what mother nature put in front of you, and surrounding yourself with like-minded people.  I wish we had had more time to just lay in the hammocks and read a book, or get to talk to the staff or locals more,  but as you can tell…  We crammed about as many experiences as we could into 2 days.  I made some best friends that trip as well, girls I have no doubt will be in my life forever.  I would guess, a vacation like this wouldn’t be appreciated by everyone.
Still, part of me wanted to keep this secret gem to myself.  I’m sure there are locations like this all over the world… and while I can’t wait to find more,  Montezuma will always be special to me.  It was the first place I really felt part of a much bigger world that I truly am clueless about.  Sometimes North Americans are egotistical in thinking we are ‘the best country’…  and well, the locals didn’t like us too much until they got to know us.  They certainly didn’t appreciate us saying we were Americans, as they are too…  just central American.  I didn’t get it until that visit.   But, with my eyes a little more open now, and after visiting ‘The happiest country in the world’, I can’t wait to venture to the next remote corner of the globe…. or I would be just fine going back to Montezuma.

If…. you want to go:

http://www.amordemar.com/  -I can promise they will remember the flight attendant girls…
http://www.hightidesurfschool.webgarden.com/   -We were later informed Mauricio is widely known as the best instructor on the pacific side…


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