Costa Rica was the last stop on our tour and it was a bittersweet feeling. I enjoyed the tour and visiting the other four countries, but at the same time I was over sitting on a bus for a minimum of five hours every other day just to get from one destination to the next. I’m energized by learning about other people, exploring a new city or country, or to put it simply, just being constantly occupied. (there's only so much you can do on a bumpy bus ride). Out of the five countries we visited, Costa Rica definitely kept me occupied right from the very start.
For those that aren’t familiar, Costa Rica and Nicaragua share a border. When I think of a border I picture walking through a patrol area where an agent checks documents and a few feet away is the entrance to the next country. With Costa Rica and Nicaragua, it’s a bit different. There’s a half-mile walk to get from one country to the next. Yes, luggage and all! This wouldn’t be a problem if I was a light packer, but let’s be honest a girl needs options. So obviously, I packed my whole closet with the expectation that I would never have to carry it for more than 50 feet. Let's just say if having unrealistic expectations was a game, I would be an expert. With a fresh Nicaraguan exit stamp on my passport I soon found myself mentally preparing for the walk to the Costa Rican border. Picture a donkey with a mound of luggage on its back struggling to get up a hill; that was me in 80% humidity. I felt like I was hemorrhaging sweat from every single pore on my face, wiping it away with the front of my shirt definitely kept me occupied.
Our first city in Costa Rica was Monteverde, a cloud forest reserve located in the north. It’s a tiny town reminiscent of a mountain village. Narrow streets lined with quaint coffee shops, souvenir stores, locally owned restaurants and plenty of tourists walking about. As with many mountain destinations, activities usually consist of something involving the surrounding nature. Costa Rica, in general, is renowned for its ecotourism. Our activity selection was kind of like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears; nature walk? Too slow. Hanging bridge walk? Too expensive. Zip lining through jungle canopies? Just right! We crave a good adrenaline rush and the seven-line soar through the jungle while being secured only by a cable and harness kept our adrenal glands occupied and maybe made us a little nervous - I mean, Gary was nervous, not me. No, I didn't panic at all as I pictured myself falling to my death and a family of monkeys in the jungle below feasting on my body.
La Fortuna, a town consisting of two volcanoes, a crater lake and vast areas of rainforest, was our second Costa Rican city. With the adrenaline from zip-lining wearing off, we were in search for our next fix. While everyone else in our group was booking coffee tours, waterfall hikes and boat rides we spotted a place that offered ATV rentals. A 2-hour ride through a local farm, parts of the jungle and a rest-stop at a secluded creek? Take. My. Money! We spotted a sloth (my life is complete now) and a toucan, rested at the most serene creek and finished the ride back maxing out the ATV speed on the dirt roads through local neighborhoods, with an odd chicken here or there crossing the road.
After two days in La Fortuna, we hopped back on our tour bus for one last ride before parting ways with our group. We arrived in San Jose; Costa Rica's capital. We explored a bit of the shopping area before having dinner and calling it a night. The next morning we said goodbye to the 11 people we spent the last 17 days bussing, exploring and sharing travel stories with. Our next destination would be our new home for the next 2.5 months: Nicaragua.