Life is funny sometimes, and I am constantly being reminded that I need to embrace the curve balls that are thrown my way. You never know when an opportunity will present itself and you have to be open minded when it comes to travel - and life in general.
Last week, a friend called me on a random Monday night to catch up, and told me about her spur of the moment trip to Costa Rica for the following week. Before I knew it, I was booking a flight and hotel to join her! Could I have put a week at home to good use? Could I have caught up on work, cleaned the house...and finally gotten around to redecorating my home office and bedroom, like I've planned to do all summer? Of course.
But those things aren't very fun!
I flew out to Costa Rica on Monday, and what a trip it turned out to be! Firstly, I always have a blast hanging out with my friend; ever since she moved away a few years ago, we try to get together at least once a year. This trip made three times I've seen her this year alone, so that in itself was awesome!
We hung out on the black sandy beach and enjoyed the gorgeous pool with a view of Snake Bay...
We went snorkeling, I got stung by a jellyfish, we ate great food and drank lots of Imperial beer (the official beer of Costa Rica)...
We went on a Riverboat Tour and saw all kinds of Costa Rican wildlife...
We did a Zipline Canopy Tour with the best tour guides you could ever ask for...
I came home completely relaxed, refreshed...and happy. Oh so happy!
I've never really thought about visiting Costa Rica before. I have heard so many wonderful things about the country from the travel blogging community, but nothing really stuck out to me in a way that made me want to see it for myself.
Now? I am in love with the country. In love with the lush green forests, the white faced Capuchin monkeys eating breakfast in the trees outside our hotel, the bats that fly overhead as you're walking to dinner...and the people?
The people of the Guanacaste area in Costa Rica are so different than Americans, it's almost impossible to explain. Imagine us, materialistic, driven, ambitious - and Costa Ricans are the exact opposite. It's a simple way of life over there, one spent preserving and enriching the landscape, a culture completely devoted to living life day by day, moment by moment, without the all-consuming materialism that we have here in the United States.
At one point, I asked our guides about taking me into town to see the city, to perhaps shop, eat in local eateries, see a museum...and they laughed. "Downtown" doesn't exist in the way I imagined. As we drove through the small city of Filadephia and Liberia, the two major cities (or what would pass as cities in the United States), I realized just how excessive we are in the states. Instead of our mega chain grocery stores and department stores, they grow most of their own food and their grocery stores sell the basics, and aren't much larger than our convenience stores. There wasn't a Walmart in sight.
Why can't we live like that? What makes Americans want more more more? What drives our Capitalistic desire to build, acquire, dominate - at any expense? In Guanacaste, the people are more concerned with preserving the forests and wildlife than they are building tourist traps. Life is simple in Costa Rica, and for the most part, people just live their lives day by day, spending time with family, eating good food, working their jobs and spending time outdoors. Everyone was so friendly, so kind, so genuine!
The tours we took were a complete change from the usual excursions I take on vacations in other countries. No one pushes to sell you things, no one reminds you a million times that you can tip them at the end - they are excited to show you a good time, show you how they live their lives and make you fall in love with their country...and we did!
When you visit Costa Rica, you take it as it is, and if that's not enough for you...well, it says more about you (and me) than it does about them.