#WhyILove Costa Rica
My parents moved to South Africa by boat, back in the ‘70s, because they wanted to see more of the world in a different way. That’s where I was born.
We moved around a lot when I was young, so travel and seeing different cultures and places have always been a part of me so has an appreciation for wildlife and nature. And of all the places I heard and read about as a kid, Costa Rica was the one that fascinated me for some reason. I guess I saw it as this wonderful utopia – exotic and mystical.
The first time I got to go there was as a backpacker just out of school, and it was so much fun to explore and kind of see my dream in real life.
The next time I went was on a trip with Kensington and it was incredible. I went into parts of the country I hadn’t been to previously, and I was able to go farther than if I’d been on my own. I arrived at the Gaia Hotel and experienced one of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life down by the beach. As I was watching the horizon, three scarlet macaws flew by in front of us. It felt like a movie! But it was just another day in Costa Rica, another incredible and natural moment.
One of my best memories was having our private guide take us to visit a local woman’s home who showed us how to make tortillas and made us a Costa Rican lunch. She didn’t speak English so the guide translated and communicated for us. I absolutely loved it, it made me feel less like a tourist and more like someone who was learning from a new friend. During the whole time, I kept thinking about how much my niece would have loved to have experienced this. To me that’s a great travel moment, when you know right away you want to share it with other people you love.
If you’re looking for mementos of Costa Rica to bring back for people, coffee and chocolate should obviously be on your list because it is some of the best in the world. I can personally confirm this because I visited an organic coffee plantation (that was also a hotel), where a coffee specialist taught us about the natural ways they grow their beans and preserve their topsoil. The coffee I drank there was the best I’ve ever tasted anywhere. During these times I’ve been searching for a good cup of Costa Rican coffee to take me back to the soothing warmth of the rainforest.
What stands out the most for me about Costa Rica is the simple memories. We went to the Kura Hotel, which is this incredible and romantic place situated high up on a mountain in the Uvita rainforest. It’s so remote and took a 4-wheel drive along the bumpiest road I’ve ever experienced. But when you get there it’s so worth it because all the suites have these huge glass walls, so you always feel like you’re enveloped by the rainforest. Once while I was lying in bed, through the glass I could see two toucans perched on a tree branch just staring back at me. It was a surreal moment that was so simple and perfect.
When our clients are planning to go to Costa Rica I always recommend that they visit the smaller towns so they can get a better sense of the real sights and sounds, and really enjoy what most Costa Ricans love about their country – the purely natural landscape. For instance, on my tour, I went to Poas Volcano Lodge. It’s a small farmhouse-style hotel located on a working dairy farm close to the Poas volcano, so the scenery is incredible. It felt very homely and being on a farm gave me a real connection to the people there, since farming is such a huge part of Costa Rican life.
Ultimately, I love Costa Rica so much because, even after going there, it still lives up to my childhood dreams. It’s still exotic and rugged and beautiful to me, and every time I go there, I discover even more to fall in love with.
5 Ways to Virtually Travel Costa Rica
Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate: Exotic and Unseen Costa Rica by Jack Ewing a beautifully written and in-depth look at Costa Rica’s exotic animals.
Live out the spark of adventure in After Words (2015), when a librarian leaves for Costa Rica to explore her final moments of happiness.
Commonly found as a snack or side dish all over Latin America, Patacones are a perfect pairing for current casual dinners at home.
Feel yourself sitting back on a beach just near a tropical rainforest as you sip on a Guaro Sour.
Take a look inside what makes Costa Rica rank number 1 on the Happy Planet Index in A Bold Peace by Matthew Eddy.
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