By Trudy Thompson
The first day of my vacation found me strapped into a harness coasting above the canopy among the clouds in beautiful Costa Rica. I couldn’t help but think that this was one of the best experiences of my life. It was in that moment, suspended in the jungle, that I realized I want to see the world! I believe everyone deserves to have that moment.
I visited Costa Rica for 16 days in January with my boyfriend. We only saw a part of this magnificent country but I have memories and experiences that will last a lifetime, not to mention thousands of pictures. We left New Year’s Eve and arrived in Alajuela, a town just outside of San Jose, in time for our first typical meal. Bill Beard’s had arranged a rental car for us and it was brought to our hotel sharply at 9 a.m the next morning.
Let me just say that I speak very little Spanish, I took classes in high school but I am by no means fluent. Taking this trip definitely opened my eyes to the importance of learning another language. It also made me far more comfortable speaking and understanding Spanish. Ticos, as the natives refer to themselves, are extremely humble and welcoming. They don’t put on any fronts and they love unexpected visits. I was worried about botching a lot of Spanish words but the people of Costa Rica are extremely understanding. They are flattered if you make the effort to communicate with them at all and always try to help you.
A major reason why traveling is so worth it is because you become exposed to how other cultures live and work, and it can be a bit of a shock. Ticos are very relaxed, they aren’t in a rush and they live life openly and with much love and affection. I can’t tell you how many hugs I received while there and because of this, I always felt welcome by family, tour guides and even strangers. I felt separated from time while I was there, nothing was stressful and everyone seemed to go with the flow. I know now why Costa Rica is considered one of the top five happiest places on the planet.
Costa Rica is such a great country because it has something for everyone, whether it is the pristine beaches and resorts or the back country hiking of the rain-forest- there’s always something to do. It’s also not very large, roughly the same size as Delaware. (Alajuela is located in the central part and is a little over an hour each way to the Pacific and Caribbean.) We spent all our time in the western part of the country so the next time I visit I’ll have to check out the other side.
I met so many amazing people and got accustomed to the climate (it’s very warm) and the environment. Our first trip was to Poas, one of Costa Rica’s Volcanoes- the climate change was crazy. It went from being sunny and 85 to foggy, windy and 50 in about an hour drive up the mountain. We traipsed around the park and meandered through trails encased with vines and moss. The Poas crater is one of the largest in the world, very easy to get to and it’s a lifetime experience to gaze down into an active crater.
The driving we did in Costa Rica was an adventure in itself; it was scary, exhilarating and intimidating. The roads are small, the locals drive fast and on the steepest unpaved mountain roads, there are not a lot of guard rails. so you learn to be extremely careful and no night driving.
Aside from often fearing for my life, I loved driving in Costa Rica because I was able to see a lot of the culture not to mention the picturesque scenery. We saw cows and horses grazing on the sides of lush green mountains and farmers directing horse drawn carts full of sugar cane and coffee beans. We visited road-side stores and restaurants with delicious cuisine and saw breathtaking sunsets along the ocean.
The typical meal there is white rice, chicken or steak, black beans, plantains, salad with cabbage, cilantro, carrots and tomatoes, picadillo which is a blend of ayote(a kind of starch), corn, and potatoes, and fresh salsa. I noticed that the food is healthier there- less fat and a lot fresher. I would say that eating the local cuisine is a perk of traveling and I suggest doing that rather than eating fast food or at restaurant chains that are also in America. If you’re in a whole other country, you should try new things.
My favorite part about this trip was experiencing the warm water of the pacific. It’s almost indescribable because you can walk right in without so much as a shiver, which is not what my typical Hampton beach self is used to. The beaches have soft white sand, crystal clear aqua-blue water, palm trees drooping low over the shores; it’s the whole nine yards in a travel brochure. Most of the time I felt like I was in a dream and floating languidly in the calm waters of Punta Leona’s Playa Blanca only fueled that fantasy. I sipped freshly made smoothies while watching the sun dip lower on the horizon and it was magical, I didn’t miss the cold once. The two days we spent on the coast of Punta Leona, a bay on the western part of Costa Rica, were the most relaxing and rejuvenating days of the whole trip. The rest of the vacation was spent adventuring, the trip to Poas volcano, the zip-lining canopy tour in Monte Verde, horseback riding through Arenal national park and swimming in La Fortuna waterfall. We visited Jaco, a popular tourist and surfing spot, bought souvenirs in the local shops of Alajuela, and took pictures in San Jose’s center at night. We were constantly on the move and it was invigorating.
I know a lot of you may be thinking, that trip sounds great but it’s probably way too expensive for me. I won’t lie to you, it costs money to travel but it’s worth every penny. I was very fortunate to discover Bill Beard’s company and the in country agents set up all the activities and accommodations as we traveled around the country. The great thing was that they stayed within our budget. We did not stay in luxurious hotels by any means but nice, safe, clean cabins to sleep in between excursions.
The best advice I can give is to save money and do this for you. If you really want to travel, do it now while you’re young, before responsibility and growing up gets in the way. Put money aside, even if it’s only $10 a week and eventually you’ll go somewhere. Plan ahead and then just do it, make that commitment and go. Take that first step out of your comfort zone and see all that this beautiful world has to offer. You won’t regret it.
Bill Beard’s arranged a horseback riding tour through Arenal national park and swimming in La Fortuna waterfall that was a highlight of out trip.
The decision’s yours, so what are you waiting for?
On your mark, get set, GO TRAVEL!
Sublimely beautiful Costa Rica has something for everyone. The treats range from exciting adventure to leisurely relaxation, and everything in between that we can add to your diving package. Furthermore, tourists can sample the laid-back national lifestyle that ticos (the name the Costa Ricans call themselves) refer to as ‘Pura Vida’ – ‘pure life’: no stress, no hassle. All this, combined with unsurpassed natural beauty and a developed and accommodating tourist industry, makes Costa Rica a wonderful place to visit and vacation.
Our agents can set up the all inclusive or al a carte vacation package and itinerary you want throughout the country. There is no charge for our service and we’ll save you money and lots of time and you’ll get the vacation you want.
*We have a wonderful NEW DVD, it is 23 minutes: LEARN MORE
To see all the adventure tours that Bill Beard’s operates Throughout Costa Rica: CLICK HERE
For single, triple, quad or group rates, contact our agents.
Our Reservation Office Is Located In La Fortuna, Costa Rica In The Shadow Of Arenal Volcano, behind the Catholic Church, Near The World Famous Hot Springs.
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IMPORTANT NOTE – Please be advised that every reasonable effort has been made to keep all prices up to date and free of errors or omissions. Prices and policies from our vendors and the Costa Rican government are subject to change without notice. Invoices will be issued at the time of booking to confirm all final rates and offers.