Why wait? I figured I’d start the year in a new place, so to Costa Rica I went. With a few days before my family arrived, I stayed in San Jose for a couple days, which isn’t nearly as bad as people said it was. Stayed in the University Area and there were a couple very nice hostels. Mostly people landing and then leaving in the morning, but the WiFi was good, so that’s fine by me.
With a few extra days to burn before the family got here, I had to pick somewhere to go. I decided to start with Manuel Antonio, because I wasn’t sure if it would be worth going to with everyone. So I scoped it out first. It has a national park with some jungles and such, as well as a nice beach.
One gripe: all the free breakfasts at the hostels are 2 pancakes and some fruit. I don’t love pancakes. They’re ok. And I do like fruit. But 2 pancakes and fruit for like, weeks straight gets a little old.
But anyways, I made it to Manuel Antonio. I went in the national park and took a trail to the waterfall, and I was met with this beautiful specimen to start the trip.
So I got passed that disappointment, and found a different trail. Actually, I did literally every trail in Manuel Antonio National Park. This trail lead to a lovely overlook.
The main beach at Manuel Antonio is a bit insane, but the ones inside the National Park are nicer since you have to pay to get into the park there. The monkeys also like those. And they steal your food if you let them.
So yeah, that’s the park and the beach. Which is pretty much what Manuel Antonio is. It also has sunsets.
The rest is nice touristy restaurants and souvenir shops. But you definitely get to see monkeys, so I figured it was worth doing.
I went back to San Jose, rented the car, and picked up the family at the airport for their 6-night vacation. We headed directly to La Fortuna.
On our first day there, we had a typical “me” adventure, which was kind of a rough start for the whole crew. I was looking for the Arenal Volcano hike (which isn’t so bad and takes about 2 hours). I got lost looking for the entrance and we ended up at Cerro Chato instead – a hike right next to the volcano, so we did it.
There was a lovely little view on the way up, but it was frequently too cloudy to see the volcano.
And then the big payoff of the 7-hour ordeal was the crater lake at the top. And here it is, in all its beautiful glory.
We grabbed another picture on the way back down, and this time there was some sunshine!
After a much needed reprieve, we did one of the main highlights of the area, the Fortuna waterfall.
We went swimming and I ripped my nice pair of swimming trunks. I was, and still am, devastated.
We ended up skipping the hot springs, but had a couple good meals at local Sodas. Plenty of rice and beans.
After the waterfall, we just went to the cloud forest of Monteverde.
We did a night tour our first night and saw some snakes, sloths, cool spiders, and a frog. Very cool to do, but it didn’t really result in any great pictures. My sister I’m sure did a much better job photographing everything, but I’m not really going for quality workmanship with these posts anyhow.
Tim and I went on a hike the next day in Santa Elena park. It was a great walk, and the highlight was a monkey fight with several monkeys which also included them eating mangos and throwing them at us. A tiny part of one hit me, but we survived. But again, no great photo opportunities for my camera phone.
Also in Monteverde, they have lots of tourist things. That included some very impressive Boruca masks, which I took a picture of.
I chilled out and worked while the family did some ziplining and touring around. There are lots of artisan coffee places in that town (Costa Rica is known for their coffee, after all), and not very laptop-friendly. So I would never stay long-term, but the jungles are cool.
We had dinner in a giant treehouse. It was aptly called Restaurant Tree House.
And then the next day, we went back to Manuel Antonio. The family went right to the park, and the next day they did a River Rafting tour which sounded pretty cool. I found a couple nice places in town with a view to get some work done. I recommend Emilio’s Cafe.
And then we ate in another weird thing – this time a plane. The plane was turned into a bar, which was quite cool. It also had a great view of the sunset.
The place we stayed in Manuel Antonio was a bit “authentic”. The showers didn’t have hot water, so it was rather “refreshing”. But they did have a really cute puppy that I hung out with, so it was worth it.
And then after a week of events and seeing as much as we could, we headed back to San Jose. I dropped everyone off at the airport, then managed to return the car to the rental place on or below the empty mark. Nice try, car rental place, thinking you’d make out selling me on that refill.