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AQ's Solo Writing

Short Story 7

Costa Rica

[Costa Rica] The "All-You-Can-Eat" Week-Long Adventure

September 2023

Contents

Introduction

1. Cities: San Jose and Cartago

2. Rainforests: La Fortuna/Arenal

3. Mountains: Monteverde

4. Beaches: Jaco

Warp-Up

Where to go in Costa Rica

Introduction

Costa Rica has many adventurous places to explore. This includes the bustling city center (San Jose), the rainforests, vegetation, volcanoes (La Fortuna/Arenal), the tranquil mountains (Monteverde), a surfing beach (Jaco), and Costa Rica’s most popular church (Cartago). Rather than going into the weeds of my jam-packed schedule, we’ll unveil my favorite things from San Jose, La Fortuna/Arenal, Monteverde, Jaco Beach, and Cartago.

1. Cities: San Jose and Cartago

The downtown San Jose, Costa Rica city center (Central Avenue) is so loud that I can’t hear what the street vendors are saying since many of them are hollering loudly simultaneously. Different fruits, avocados, umbrella’s, and other random handmade stuff are scattered on top of blankets on the ground. Central Avenue’s synergy is keeping my feet moving, regardless that I slept uncomfortably and poorly for less than four hours during my overnight flight that landed in San Jose airport a few hours ago.

As my driver/tour guide drives through Cartago, he points at a building, saying it’s the most popular Catholic Church in Costa Rica. Christian insists that I go inside even though it’s not on my itinerary. Instead of politely declining, which could cause him to lose face (feel embarrassed), I get out of the car and walk toward the church, Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels).

There’s hardly anyone inside the sanctuary on this Monday afternoon. As I stand behind the back row, scanning the interior architecture, a local woman, appearing to be a young senior citizen, leaves the back row and starts walking down the aisle on her knees. Her compelling spiritual act amazes me. I ask Christian what walking down the church’s aisle on your knees to the front/altar represents. His response: “It means you are asking God for a favor or you are thanking him for giving you a favor.” That’s deep!

Costa Rica destinations
2. Rainforests: La Fortuna/Arenal

There are a bunch of activities to do in La Fortuna/Arenal, such as zip-lining, horseback riding, ATV driving, bungee jumping, volcano sightseeing, hot springs (unisex spas), and the heartwarming Sloth Trail. Still, the upward and downward rainforest hike at the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges has me active and speechless.

About every 15 minutes, I walk across a long wobbly bridge made out of steel and aluminum. I’m on the highest hanging bridge, 147 feet above the massive rainforest, surrounded by greenery and vegetation. It feels like I’m floating above the trees, observing Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano, inhaling and exhaling fresh air through my nose. The sounds of various insects, birds, monkeys, and other animals feels relaxing and peaceful instead of alarming.

It's raining now. Rather than saying to myself, “This sucks!” or “Damn, I’m going to get wet,” I continue hiking on the ascending and descending trail in a meditative state. The Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges in La Fortuna is a calming and trance-like experience, even though the hike is more than a walk in the park.

Travel to Costa Rica
3. Mountains: Monteverde

The Moonbow House, high in the evergreen-style mountains, is completely isolated from society. Did COVID-19 even make its way to this side of Monteverde three years ago in 2020? 

Other than insect sounds and the wind blowing, the quietness soothes my soul. The data connectivity and Wi-Fi on my phone doesn’t work. I take it as a sign to detach and be present with nature by not thinking and doing anything. The human soul must connect with nature, at least sporadically, to rekindle the spirit.

At the Moonbow House, my ego and personality don’t exist. My eyes zone in on the mountain view from the open front door. I continue sitting motionless, somewhat hypnotized by the beautiful valley. Saying that it’s a good view is an understatement. Breathtaking is more like it, and that’s without sugarcoating it.

Costa Rica itinerary
4. Beaches: Jaco

The thick pebble rocks scattered throughout the wet sand means that people can’t lounge or get a tan on the ocean shore. The waves in Jaco Beach are for surfing. What divides the sand from the beach house where I’m staying is a narrow road, a tight squeeze for a car. If a violent tsunami were to strike, things would quickly get messy; in worst case scenario, dead. My driver and the beach house host advise me to swim on the left end of the beach. Jaco’s strong tides, where people can surf, are on the middle and right sides of the two-mile beach strip.

Before I get my feet wet in the ocean, I prepare myself to feel cold and uncomfortable. Since I’m from California, I’m aware of how cold the Pacific Ocean feels and why a bodysuit is necessary for surfers and swimmers staying inside the water for long periods. Plus, the United States and Costa Rica share the Pacific Ocean. 

I enter the water. This is the sweet spot—not cold, not warm, and not salty! From afar, I see locals surfing without bodysuits and women in thong bikinis riding the waves. A Costa Rican kid chats with me in Spanish, wanting to know my name, where I’m from, and if my Fitbit watch lets me play video games. I continue enjoying myself in the water, not eager to get out, regardless of the sun going down at 5:30 p.m.

Costa Rica destinations

Wrap-Up

Costa Rica gave us an all-you-can-eat (cities, rainforests, mountains, and beaches) adventure in seven days, pinpointing one of my favorite things to do in the four areas. This is thanks to Christian, owner at Costa Rica Drivers, who offers affordable, tailored itineraries, and hassle-free tours for individuals, couples, and small families.

 

You can either create your own itinerary and rent a car or rely on a company or agency. Sure, renting a car will save you money, but more driving will happen on unfamiliar roads and rough terrains, and you’ll be trying to figure things out, wondering if you’re on track or off the beaten path. Google Maps and phone data don’t always come in handy. Then you’ll have to deal with pushy clerks at tour kiosks to buy tickets for major attractions. Sometimes it’s better to let a tour company/driver or agency do the heavy lifting so you can enjoy the outdoor scenery and have peace of mind.

AQ's Solo Writing
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