April 15, 2011 § Leave a comment
“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” -G.K. Chesterton
I haven’t taken the time to tell you all about my Costa Rica trip yet and I really wanted to do so before I leave for my next adventure.
I have an Aunt, Uncle and three cousins who live in Nosara, Costa Rica. I went to visit them by myself in May of last year. It was a great trip to take by myself, I had some great experiences, and learned a lot.
In August of last year, I was on a 2 week study abroad in Guadalajara, Mexico and I met a guy who is now one of my very best friends in the world. His name is Ben. I told Ben all about my trip to Costa Rica and we decided we should go back. In the meantime Christa and I had planned to take a spring break trip together, but we hadn’t decided where to go yet. So, in January when Ben brought up going to Costa Rica again, we decided it’d be a fun group trip. But, having been there before, I didn’t want to have any major expectations. In fact, I more expected to not be as thrilled since it wouldn’t be new. I was wrong.
I’ve never taken a real spring break trip and I hoped that going back to Costa Rica with a group would be completely different. My aunt hooked us up with a great condo. Christa brought a friend from high school and Ben brought a friend from undergrad. We all met at the airport in Liberia. 3 girls, 2 guys. All of us with at least 2 people on the trip we’d never met. Ready to spend 7 days together. This was bound to be a good time, but I still wasn’t convinced Nosara would be as wonderful on the second time around.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Nosara. Its a simple town. Its on the beach. Its calm. Everyone meets on the beach for sunset. Sits. Enjoys it. Savors the little everyday treasures like a pink sky or a cold beer. Things we too often take for granted.
My experiences this time were different. We went to the “Fiestas” which was essentially bullriding, but once they fell off, it was more like 30 minutes of bull fighting. Really, it was an awesome cultural experience. And the guys were dying to touch the bull like the locals do when they hang over the edge of the fence and stick out a hand or foot as the bull runs by. We got to do yoga in the rainforest, in a studio they called “tree top” because it over looked the rainforest and you could see the ocean in the distance. We ziplined and made friends with some of the locals who helped show us around. I took a surf lesson, then rented a board a couple of times and practiced on my own. We deep sea fished and a humpback whale swam under our boat (!!!). We went to a beach in the middle of the night to see if we could find sea turtles. We hung out with our local friends on the beach at 2 a.m. We hung out in the pool at our condo. We played board games together. We walked all over the place. I jogged on the beach. We kayaked up the river. All-in-all it was an incredibly active week. But, that’s part of what was so nice about it.
Of course, we ate so well it didn’t matter. Fresh ceviche. Fish tacos from a bar-b-que pit stand near the beach, pasta with octopus, mussels, calamari. Fresh mangos, papaya and kiwi with homemade yogurt and granola. Yucca fritters. Fried plantains. Tofu Curry (This was before I gave up meat for lent, but I still ate all veggies and fish). Excellent pizza. Black beans. Agua de Pipa. Seriously…the food was good. So was the beer. And the tequila. And the rum. (oops?)
Ok, so I countered all that exercise. But it was vacation. And I loved it.
We’ve kept in touch with some of the locals we met on facebook. Thank goodness for facebook for that reason. I’m trying to learn spanish and the more I learn the more fun it’ll be to chat with the Ticos (the name for native Costa Ricans).
The group meshed excellently. We did activities together, but also weren’t scared to break off on our own and do other things. So it ended up being a nice balance between hanging out with friends and alone time. Group dinners every night, coffee and breakfast on the patio in the mornings. Traveling is equal parts learning about the people you’re with, the people you meet, and yourself. We got along so well, in fact, that Christa, Ben, and I all texted or talked everyday for at least 2 weeks after we got back because we missed each other so much. And they loved Nosara as much as I did. We’re even thinking about going back. Maybe my next adventure will let me live there for a few months. Maybe we’ll all get a time share there.
So, yeah, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t have as much fun going back since I’d been there before, but because I went with friends this time, it was a completely different experience. I might as well have been in a different place entirely. Yes…I could go back every year. I could live there. There are very few places I feel that way about. But my heart is at peace there. Content. At home.
In fact, I’m thrilled that I went back and took in Costa Rica for a second time. It allowed me to really, whole-heartedly fall in love with the place even more than before. Thank God for pleasant surprises.
**Note: I left one of my cameras in Costa Rica. I lost it in my Aunt and Uncle’s car. Its being mailed back to me. But, our only truly “group picture” from the whole trip was on that camera. Hopefully I’ll get to share soon.