When I decided to travel to Costa Rica, alone, I wasn't sure what to expect. My sister-in-law, who had been there with my brother a few years prior gave me an endless list of things to do and places to explore. In the end, I did it my way. No planning, no real idea of what to expect and no travel companion to get lost with. I went with two items confirmed: my Airbnb room and my transportation from San Jose to La Fortuna . I figured once I got there, I would feel it out and I'm so happy I did.
In my desperate search for a deal, I found a great rate on Spirit from Fort Lauderdale to San Jose. I didn't need much time away from home, just enough time to disconnect from all the chaos that had been taking place in my life at the time. I found exactly what I needed when I went in search of a short get-away. Flight and room confirmed, I was off. Once I got there, I realized a few things... I should've taken more cash and I should've probably checked with my bank, USAA to see what restrictions, if any, would apply. I ended up having to rely on my MasterCard the whole trip.
By the time I got to my Bed & Breakfast, it was dark and while I couldn't make out my surroundings, I could certainly hear them in the rainforest surrounding the B&B. Having grown up in the city, I'm not accustomed to the sounds of birds, monkeys and jaguars in the distance. Miami is more of a steady horns and sirens kind of place. Nature's music was far more beautiful than I imagined it would be.
The morning after arriving was, by far, the most breathtaking moment I've ever had. I reserved the honeymoon suite at the B&B I was staying at for one sole purpose... the balcony. With the sun rising just before 6am, I didn't need an alarm. I felt the sun creep in and I was up in an instant. As I opened the curtains and stepped onto the balcony, I was completely blown away by my view. I had a panoramic view of El Arenal with Lake Arenal to the side. There was nature as far as the eye could see.
My first day there, I spent it hiking and taking in all of the beautiful sights: humming birds, Toucans, butterflies with colors only seen in coloring books and waterfalls, oh the waterfalls. I was in heaven. The entire hike took me about two hours, so I went back to my room to freshen up and met up with my host, Eduardo. Do you ever meet people that you know you meant to meet? Eduardo was one of those people. He made me feel at home and was incredibly accomodating. Getting around Costa Rica can be challenging but Eduardo offered me a ride to wherever I wanted to go for $15. Granted, I should've probably saved myself the $100 I spent on getting around but now I know.
That afternoon, I went to La Fortuna Waterfall. Getting to the bottom of the fall is a hike. You'll need to go down about 400 steps to reach the bottom of the fall, and keep in mind that you'll need to take those same stairs up when you're ready to leave, the 15 minutes it took me to get to the bottom and the 30 minutes it took me to get back up were the best 45 minutes I've ever spent. Every step, every level makes for some of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen. They allow swimming there so if you go, remember to take your bathing suits and comfortable shoes.
My last day at La Fortuna was spectacular. My host, Eduardo, coordinated a horse-back-ride to El Arenal National Park for me. Once I finished my breakfast, my guide and my horse were waiting for me and we were off. We rode to the entrance of the park for about an hour, we parked our horses and began our hike. I wish I had taken my camera on that hike because I saw some of the most incredible sights along our hike. From a colony of ants gathering their resources for the winter, to monkeys playing in the trees, to the ramnents of the volcanic rock spread across what seemed like miles. Our hike, from beginning to end, took us about three hours. Once we got back to our horses, we were off to El Castillo, where I had the best steak I've ever eaten. It was there that my guide left me and I was picked up by Eduardo's wife a short time after.
The days that followed were filled with reflexions as I worked my way back to San Jose for my flight back home. The ride back to San Jose was relaxing and scenic. It was during that ride that I realized that I will definitely be back, hopefully for good one day.