Thursday, September 3, 2009

Costa Rica

One the most fun trips I've ever taken was to Costa Rica back in 2005.  A couple of co-workers and I were talking about taking off for a weekend just to kick back and relax.  I found a flight to CR for $265 round trip on American Airines, non stop.  We could not possibly pass it up...and thank goodness we didn't.
I'll admit that I had a lot of pre-conceived notions about the country - mostly assuming that I'd be "roughing" it a lot ...with monster sized bugs [see tarantula above].  However, with the exception of the first night where we stayed in Monte Verde in a quaint, clean cabin, the other two nights were spent at a resort (El Tabacon) and Smithsonian Rooms (Arenal Observatory) where our beds faced the Arenal Volcano which we were able to watch the gentle red glow from the lava as we drifted off to sleep.

We decided that we need to have activities to balance out our relaxation. The two activities we agreed upon [we had many, many things we wanted to do...not enough time to do them in] were: ziplining and horseback riding from Monte Verde to Arenal.  The relaxation part of the trip was sitting in the thermal baths at El Tabacon Resort just at the base of the Arenal Volcano. 
Ziplining was the most terrifyingly thrilling experience I had ever been through.  It was disconcerting to walk through the clouds in order to get to the platform from which I would launch myself across a valley of trees who's highest point was so far below that the tops of the trees looked like broccoli heads.  In order to get up the winding stairs, I had to focus on the person in front of me.  Unfortunately, I was face to butt the entire time.  For the first 500 yards of the drop I just screamed my head off...surprisingly I just got tired of screaming and just sailed across in awe of the view around me.  I had never felt so alive before!
I've ridden horses many times before but never to get anywhere.  It was interesting to tramp through the jungle on horseback in order to get to the Volcano.  I don't ever need to do it again. My knees still hurt from that ride...and so does my butt.  This is the one thing I would've changed - white water rafting would've been so much more satisfying! :)
Luckily at the end of that rainbow was the promise of soaking my sore body in the thermal waters at El Tabacon...and to indulge in some inexpensive thai massages! 
The Arenal Observatory's Smithsonian rooms are also not to be missed.  It's amazing to be able to watch the Arenal gently flow and spurt througout the evening.  There were hiking trails as well but due to time constraints we weren't able to hike very far.  The property had beautiful flora/fauna as well as a host of birds and monkeys.
Although it's been many years since my last trip, I still hope for a future trip back to this beautiful country!
*remember that this review is really based off a trip from 2005.  Do your due diligence through research to make sure that this is a place you'd want to stay.


Arenal Observatory Lodge

Desafio Adventure Company:
We used this company to book our transfers to/from the airport as well as our stay in Monteverde; sky trek tour; and horseback ride.

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