Now you see us, now you don’t

by Brad on February 10, 2011

Ok, living out of a backpack and spending countless hours on buses doesn’t easily lend to updating a blog. Then coming to Utah with only two weeks to do what would normally take a month, desperately trying to see loved ones we’ve missed, and dealing with winter storms that wreck plans…again, not so easy to find time to update a blog. It’s a tough life, isn’t it? Oh, but we have decided where we’re going to go next! It’s…

First of all, our backpacking time in CR. First stop, Finca Luna Nueva. A self-sustained organic farm on the slopes of Arenal Volcano. In one word: Heaven, heavenly, paradise, glorious, dreamy. Take your pick. Excellent food, cooked with what grows on the farm, the most comfortable bed we’ve ever slept in, great food, cool people, and really good food. Just don’t corner us and make us decide what was our favorite part.

Finca Luna Nueva

Finca Luna Nueva

Trying out the homegrown basil

Brad the Organic Farmer.

Brad the organic farmer...almost

Costa Rican Tucan

Tucan on the farm

From there, we headed down to Grecia, just outside of San Jose, where we met up with our good friends Brandon and Jennifer. They’re another couple from Utah, having an awesome experience in CR. It was great to see their place and hear about how their time in CR has been. After a restful night there, we bussed an hour down into Grecia town center, than an hour into San Jose, caught the 2-hour bus out to Puntarenas, waited for 2 hours for the ferry across the bay, rode the hour-long ferry to the other side, then caught the final two-hour bus out to Montezuma, the hippie center of Latin America. Turns out we had booked a room at a party hostel. After meeting our not so cool roomies, we withdrew to a corner, shed a tear for ourselves, went back into the room, put on our eyemasks and earplugs, and tried to sleep through the lame, obnoxious conversations that were happening on the other side of the screen window. And it was hot. And we had to use mosquito nets. And the dumb roomie turned off the ceiling fan. We decided that night that we’re never doing the shared hostel room thing again. And the next day we moved out.

Montezuma. This is a town where the hippies won. They rule. It’s a fun little town. Has good food, and an organic farmers market. Originally we thought we might stay for three nights, two was enough.

Montezuma

Montezuma Main Street

Lunch at Ylang Ylang

One of our favorite restaurant meals in all of Costa Rica. Ylang Ylang Restaurant.

pargo dinner

Followed by dinner at "the most romantic restaurant in Costa Rica." It really was.

white face monkeys

A view from our hostel balcony.

Next stop, Manuel Antonio National Park. This will be remembered forever in our minds. It’s a famous park. Most tourists stop here. We saw raccoons and a sloth, our first in Costa Rica. A gorgeous beach, and a leisurely stroll, and then, a busted ankle. Ok, not busted, but badly sprained. Yep, we lost Kelli in Manuel Antonio. Instead of her usual cussing replacer, “Swear!,” she said the real deal so I knew it was serious. We tried limping along for a while before coming across some helpful Federal Police. They were super nice, considering that they represent Costa Rica’s only hope of mounting a national defense being that they have no army. The older of the two called for help. Turns out it was a call to the Red Cross, their ambulance service. A wooden stretcher board was brought to us to get Kelli out of the park. Yep, lay down Kelli. Kelli on the board, me on one corner, two police on the other side, and a recruited Costa Rican tourist to complete the entourage. I only wish I were strong enough to carry and take pictures at the same time. I would love to post one up for you right now. It will have to survive in memory, but take a moment to picture that. Love ya Kelli.

We made it to the ambulance, had the ankle checked out, not broken. Our friendly ambulance driver was kind enough to give us a ride back to town, lights and all. Then it was a short hike back to our hotel, piggy back style. That was the last of our hiking attempts in Costa Rica.

We ventured on to the Osa Peninsula the next day, luckily all by car for this leg. We stayed in Bahia Drake, and Brad did a solo entrance into Corcovado national park. Osa is basically like the Yellowstone and Yosemite of Costa Rica. It’s wild jungle, famed for its countless wildlife. I saw more in 3 hours in that park than in 3 months in the rest of CR. I promise I took tons of pictures for Kelli.

On the way to the park, humpback whales. Males fighting for a female. Minutes into the park, spider monkeys leaping in the trees, sloths, howler monkeys barking like mad,  crazy cool birds, leaf cutter ants, and wild chickens (yep). There were wild turkeys, caymans, lizards, crocodiles, and then the illusive squirrel monkeys, found only in this part of Costa Rica. We even got our hopes up for spotting a jaguar, and by the sounds of the howler monkeys we were close, but limited by our vows to not leave the trails and the enforcer guide. Oh well. We’re young still. Go to Costa Rica, go to Corcovado national park, and wear the rubber boots. Trust me.

Spider monkey

Spider monkey

wild chicken

This is what a wild chicken looks like. What do you think it tastes like?

rubber boots

Rubber boots make the day in Corcovado a lot more enjoyable.

From Bahia Drake we took a flight back up to San Jose. Thirty minutes on a plane to save two days of bus rides? Yeah, we took the plane. We had our first “couch surfing” experience and met a fantastic American lady who welcomed us into her home and spent hours talking with us about raw food, as well as making some for us. We loved it. We learned more about what we missed by not being closer to San Jose, and it was a blast to try some of her food, all organic.

And then we went east. The Caribbean side. Oh man, I just looked at the photos for that trip. Wow. I have nothing left to say. It was honestly our favorite stop in all of Costa Rica. It’s a whole different side to CR than you will experience on the west coast.  I don’t have the breath to talk about it all. Here’s a summary:

First night there, dinner at Loco Natural, amazing food, complete with a mother and baby sloth crawling through the rafters. Crazy cool.

Day one, on a  rented scooter (yes, we took it offroad and through some rivers). An organic farmers market on the Bribri indian reservation 40 minutes outside of town. Incredible, incredible experience. A short tour of a Bribri family’s chocolate making venture with stories of their cultural uses of the cacao bean. And chocolate samples. Mmmmm. A ride into Cahuita national park, the largest corral reef in CR. And a ride to Manzanillo, reggae capital of CR…you might as well be in Jamaica. Dinner at Soda Isma, where Ismerelda cooks up the best rondon in the city, to be ordered a day in advance. Unreal.

bribri farmer's market

Bribri farmer's market

chocolate samples in bribri

Sampling the Bribri chocolate. All smiles.

soda isma

Dinner at Soda Isma, with Ismerelda herself

Day two: a little more subdued. Time on the beach, and time for photos.

worm bite specialist

Good to know we have one of those in town

Day three: a chocolate tour, complete with making our very own chocolate.

kelli mill

Grinding the beans

chocolate maker

Our chocolate coach, one of the coolest guys we ever met

Then onto the botanical garden, with tropical fruit ripe for the picking and eating.

fruit harvest

The local harvest

red frog

Red poison dart frog. Don't touch it Kelli!

And that was just the morning. Holy cow. I’m gonna stop there.

After four nights, we bussed back into San Jose and up to Grecia to reclaim our suitcases. A night there, then a bus trip back to San Jose where we finally had a chance to check out the downtown a little bit before heading out to our new friend’s house (the raw food pro). Her landlord’s husband happens to do airport transfers so it was an easy hop into his car in the morning to catch our flight back to Utah, where we’ve been for the last two weeks.

Oh Utah, how do I wish to leave thee? Let me count the ways. Hold on, that sounds like we don’t like it here. That may be too strong. We just know there are other places we like better. It’s great to come here to visit, but we are definitely excited to start the next leg of our home-seeking venture.

chocolate shot

Here's to you Costa Rica. It's been amazing.

Next stop, New Zealand.

{ 7 comments }

Kevin Klein February 19, 2011 at 7:55 am

Great to see all of that, Brelli. I’m jealous of all that wildlife and food and your chocolate coach! Hope your ankle’s all better.

Looking forward to the stories of Utah & NZ–in person from you guys!

Kleavin

Karen Ripley February 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Give us an update soon! We want to make sure all is well with you after the quake –

Brad March 27, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Hi Karen. New Zealand was too much fun to ever have time to write. Holy cow it was cool. You and Brent would love it. Of all the people we know, you guys especially would have a blast there. The earthquake changed our plans but luckily we missed it. We were on the southern tip of the north island, about to head down to Christchurch the next day when the quake hit. That was a little spooky, thinking of all the tourists that got hurt and killed in the main church, a site we would have been sure to see. Felt lucky after that one.

Cindy Bouwhuis February 23, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Brad and Kelli…
Keep me posted on New Zealand. I have relativest that live in TempleView/Hamilton area that are so nice. You would want to say hello, I promise!
Safe travels,
Cindy
(your Chicago/Wicked buddy)

Brad March 27, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Hamilton, New Zealand. A Mormon’s dream right there, that is. Relatives there…you’ve gotta visit!

Jennifer Pearce March 6, 2011 at 7:40 pm

It was so fun to spend time with you guys while you were here in Costa Rica! I loved reading this blog post. We definitely want to check out some of those places you guys visited that we haven’t been to yet. We are looking forward to hearing all about New Zealand. That is one of the places on our list too. :)

Brad March 27, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Hi Jen! Thanks for the comment. We had a blast hanging out with you guys and really appreciate you guys helping us out so much. There’s a ton to see in Costa Rica isn’t there? The list is endless. You guys have plenty of time though.

New Zealand should be on the top of everyone’s list. You’ll love it when you get there.

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