The bright morning sun seems to have been replaced by a heavy cloud of gray. The lush green canopy painted over by a coat of white snow.
As I wake, the patter of spider monkeys scampering across our villa roof has been replaced by the more familiar click click click of our dogs’ nails on the hardwood floor.
Instead of the rhythmic roar of the ocean, I hear… nothing much at all. Hot air being blown through the vents. The kettle boiling on the woodstove. A dog snoring.
And so we are home again. In short, our honeymoon to Costa Rica exceeded our expectations. Of course, that probably was not so difficult. Doing my best to play the role of The Romantic, I told Karin nothing of our trip, other than we were going to Costa Rica. Pack your bathing suit and some light clothes.
water leading to La Paz waterfalls
When deciding on a honeymoon destination, Costa Rica just popped in my consciousness (a couple clients had been, a friend had gone, an article here or there). Karin was agreeable and a Google search had me on the phone viewing properties online with a travel agent for an hour.
I liked what I saw — the destination seemed more exotic, a place neither of us had been, and we’d be moving about the countryside (I tend to feel a bit imprisoned in all-inclusive resorts). We were married on Sept 29th, but waited on the honeymoon to enjoy our guests from out of town and the glorious fall weather here at home. The beginning of December proved a good time to take a trip. In Costa Rica, it’s plenty warm (the Pacific Ocean had to be around 75 degrees), and it’s right before summer and still not high tourist season there.
La Paz waterfalls (I liked the lighting)
I don’t know if this sounds odd, but when I travel, I don’t like to know too much about my destination. I like to simply arrive and go from there. Feels more like an adventure that way. Very often I don’t know what airline I am flying until I am in the car headed to the airport. The only research I did for this trip was to read the Wikipedia entry for Costa Rica the evening before we departed.
We arrived in San Jose and got our rental car, a four wheel drive mid-size Suzuki SUV with 11 kilometers on it. Probably the newest vehicle I’ve ever driven. In the rental office, the manager suggested I read a form before signing the papers. Apparently, some locals came up with an entrepreneurial enterprise. See a rental car. Somehow create a flat tire. Offer to help the driver in distress. Rob them.
self portrait in front of Arenal volcano
Okay, that’s interesting… I thought as I signed the paper. I drove with purpose and put on my best tough guy face as we navigated the city streets to the ultra winding mountain roads to our first destination. The roads in Costa Rica tend not to have names, so getting directions usually involves landmarks. On the other hand, there are so few roads that most often your best guess tends to be the right way.
We arrived at our first night’s destination just as night fell — around 5:30 PM. I was surprised that things got dark so early, but I later found out that the sunrise/sunsets in Costa Rica are much more consistent throughout the year than up north. The whole proximity to the Equator thing…
sunset in Manuel Antonio
When I unpacked my bag to prepare for a nice celebratory dinner with Karin, I astounded myself with the futility of my pack job. I honestly have no clue what I was thinking. I could have picked a stranger on the street, invited him into my house without telling him a word about my desitination or plans and I’m sure he could have done a job equal to mine.
I packed no collared shirts. Not a one. Just tee shirts. Later, we’d be spending 5 days at a beach. A former redhead, the UV rays from the sun are not my friend. Did I pack my beach shirt? The one with UV protection? Nah… Never even crossed my mind. Safe and sound in my closet. Chalk one up for lists and planning. I would be hitting a few gift shops around town and adding to my summer wardrobe.
I also lugged around my laptop. I figured I might feel inspired to write, perhaps check e-mail now and again. At the very least, I’d use the DVD player to keep up with my workouts. I brought 5 exercise DVDs and my weight bands.
my best shot of Arenal volcano
I never checked e-mail (there were no connections). I wrote nothing. And my exercise came in the form of boogie boarding on the beach. In the end, my computer just made the Airport Security Line Olympics that much more exciting (gotta remove the computer! only the computer in the little tray, not the computer and the shoes! how many ounces is that suntan lotion?)
Most of our time was spent doing some serious chilling out. Reading. Enjoying some cable TV (a treat for us). Eating well. Being together. And just soaking in the beautiful environment. Having rented the car, we drove 500 switch-backed miles or so. We saw lots of countryside. And we saw lots of animals.
Iguanas. Lizards. Beautiful birds, including toucans an owl, and lots of hummingbirds. Snakes, butterflies, and monkeys, too. While the natives probably regard monkeys the same way I do squirrels, Karin and I were giddy whenever the creatures would visit.
Every morning at around seven o’clock we’d hear the trees moving, some squeaking, or the scampering on the roof. We jump out of bed, I’d grab the camera, and we’d sit on the balcony waiting for our new friends to drop by. With an ocean view and a hot cup of Costa Rican coffee, I must say, it’s an excellent way to wake up.
Karin and new friend in Manuel Antonio
We took one adventure tour — a zip line by the Arenal volcano. I playing the role of MAN on this honeymoon, so I didn’t want Karin to have to make too many decisions. I made the reservations and she seemed excited as well as a bit nervous. The zip line is where you are harnessed to a wire between two towers. You’re hooked in, so you’re not holding your weight — you’re mostly going along for the scenic ride. However when you come out of the trees, close to 60 MPH and suddenly the ground drops 600 feet away, it can provide quite a thrill. Adding some pizazz to the trip, for sure…
It was a vacation worthy of a honeymoon… Visit Costa Rica (or Costa Rico as my cousin calls it).
kids at the beach
A few leisure travel tips:
1) Um, make a list of what you need to bring. Duh…
2) Leave the computer behind. It ain’t sexy.
3) Take $50 in one dollar bills for tips. Many places are cool with taking US dollars, especially as tips
4) Change some money before you leave. Maybe $50 – 100. Not too much. You can always change more when you get there.
5) Wear slide on shoes on travel days. Easier to get through security. Great to take your shoes off on a flight (think John Candy in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles — "Whew, the old dogs are barking today!")
6) Pack light. Carry on if you’re connecting.
7) Accomodations? Clothing? Food? Get what you want. You’re on vacation!