Costa Rica. The amazing trip in November and December feels so distant now. I look out of the window and it’s pretty much grey every day. It’s still dark when I wake up and it’s dark when I come home from work. How different from the days in Costa Rica, where the sun was high up in the sky at 7am and you were woken up at 5am because the first sunrays, were already calling for your attention.
This was the furthest away from home I’ve ever travelled and I really felt the geographical distance. From the rain forest, to the wild animals, it certainly wasn’t Kansas anymore. I’m not going to lie, I mainly worried about the rain season before going. The Italian said it would rain everyday. For someone who dreads downpour, it didn’t feel like a great prospect for a hot holiday. Although I was met with a mighty thunderstorm as I landed, the rest of the trip was so sunny that my whole face was covered in freckles. Jackpot.
Apart from the agreeable weather, I also managed to see a sloth and I had some pretty amazing fish tacos.
The Italian had been on a surfing adventure in Bali prior to Costa Rica and so when he met me at the airport, I saw a tanned surf dude with a beard and flipflops who looked nothing like the pressurised City worker he’d been a month earlier. We were off to a good start.
And the vacation continued in the same relaxed manner. Fair enough we woke about around 7am every day because of the sunlight, but we were already in bed by 9pm, exhausted by the humidity and possibly the aforementioned portion of fish tacos. Or everything else that we consumed.
We stayed on the Pacific side and explored Jaco, the Papagayo peninsula and Santa Teresa. One day we also went inland to the Arenal volcano, but that day ended in disappointment as the volcano was shrouded in clouds.
The Italian favoured the hippie-ish community Santa Teresa, mostly because of the surf opportunities, but also because the food there was beyond fantastic. I, on the other hand, who is slightly more high maintenance, preferred the Papagayo peninsula, as our hotel had two private beaches. I tried paddleboarding, which made me feel very zen and Jennifer Aniston-like and the Italian and I also had a go at kayaking.
The best part of paddling was looking at other people’s attempts with the paddleboard. One robust gentleman never even managed to stand up, but fell in the water while balancing on his knees. I had to bite my lip very hard not to laugh out loud. Poor man.
The animal life in Costa Rica is amazing, you couldn’t avoid seeing a hummingbird at breakfast, an iguana by the pool or hearing howler monkeys at dawn. One day we went to Manuel Antonio national park and hired a guide who showed us bats, spiders, iguanas, monkeys and my favourite, the three-toed sloth. The park was pretty busy, which made it less of a genuine experience, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t riveting to see these wild animals play around in their natural habitat.
What I miss most about Costa Rica, apart from my daily sunshine dose of Vitamin D, is the fresh fruit. Pineapples were juicy and sweet and don’t get me started on the ripe avocados. Hello guacamole! The coconut water tasted like nothing of the kind you buy at supermarkets in the UK. Seriously, in comparison, the imported coconut water here tastes like feet!
I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the Pura Vida lifestyle. The Italian and I didn’t go to Costa Rica to party, we went there to bury our feet in the sand, kick back and relax. Costa Rica isn’t a pretentious holiday destination where you have to invest in an Emilio Pucci kaftan just to enter a beach, this is a country that promotes wellness wholeheartedly. And that’s the spirit I want to remember as I wake up to yet another cold and wet January morning.