Alan and I had been hearing good things about Costa Rica for years, and our friend who lives there posts lots of photos that really made us want to go check it out.
We flew into San Jose on a Wednesday and headed straight for the Hotel Bougainvillea, which features a stunning 10-acre tropical botanical garden. We were fortunate enough to get a garden-view room with a big deck that served as a relaxing place to enjoy an afternoon glass of wine, which you will need after driving in Costa Rica. Indeed, driving in Costa Rica is challenging and not for the faint of heart!
The next day, we visited the La Paz Waterfall gardens which are amazing, as are the lush tropical rain forest, flowing white rivers, spectacular waterfalls, birds, butterflies, monkeys, hummingbirds, snakes, felines, frogs and much more.
We also toured a coffee plantation, where they process the java on equipment that is more than one-hundred years old and operated completely on water-driven, gravity-fed equipment.
The next morning, we drove the 135 miles over the one mountain road towards Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side. The trip took about five hours, which gives you an idea of what the roads are like.
Once there, we stayed with our friends, James and Lolita, who recently built a house in the jungle where they plan to retire surrounded by toucans flying around, and so many tropical plants that you often see used as houseplants.
Puerto Viejo also boasts beautiful beaches, some with white sand and some with black sand, and soothing warm water.
While there, we visited the Jaguar Wildlife Rescue Center, which rehabilitates injured wildlife for either release back to the wild, or an easy life in the center if–for some reason–they’re unable to be released back into the wild. We saw a huge assortment of animals, including baby sloths, a crocodile, many birds, monkeys, snakes, raccoons, and white-tailed deer, but no Jaguar.
We also toured a chocolate plantation, which included a hike to the top of a large hill, which enabled us to see stunning views of the Caribbean. It included lots of chocolate tasting and a full tour of the processing facility.
All the restaurants are open-air and create a very festive atmosphere. We had great food, which varied from traditional Costa Rican food, Tacos, Peruvian food, and delicious Italian food. The vibe in the villages is very relaxed and slow-paced. We left feeling very relaxed.
Now, back to work!