VISIT: Costa Rica
You know what’s nice? Friends getting married. You know what’s really nice? When they have a destination wedding in Costa Rica & you get to turn it into a mini vacation.
One of Blake’s good friends & roommate from college got married in July, & we got to benefit in a big way. Summer is full of good things– beach trips & staying up late for ice cream– 16 bottles of sunscreen & Saturday morning walks to the farmers’ market– vacation Bible school & pizza movie nights.
But you know what it’s not full of? Outings for mom & dad. So this ended up being just what we needed to refresh as individuals & as a couple. I opened up Where the Crawdads Sing to page 1 on the flight there & finished it the next night. I read a fiction book in TWO DAYS, you guys! That’s happened zero times before. The dinner portion of the wedding reception was kind of lengthy, & I actually left between dinner & dessert to finish the last 30 pages. I was on my own, & I did what I wanted!
So…yay Costa Rica!
I did zero research leading up to this trip. I literally looked up the hotel for the first time the night before we left to see how to pack– yep, packed the day we left. My procrastination skills are award-winning. But really, is it procrastination? Or is it the fact that it takes that long to get the laundry done so you actually have the things to pack? And just in case you’re planning a packing list for any sort of beach vacay, I had high intentions for myself & packed make up & a curling iron. The only time I wore make up was for the wedding, & my hair stayed in double dutch braids with a hat the entire trip except for the wedding when it was in a beach-worthy ponytail so….curling iron could have stayed home.
Honestly, I wasn’t even sure where Costa Rica was. I couldn’t pass an elementary geography test right now if you paid me all the money in your purse plus a million dollars. I thought Costa Rica = somewhere around Mexico = beach = chips & guac all day.
I was 1/3 correct. Costa Rica, while not part of Mexico, (learn something new every day!), is semi-close to it (Central America), but unlike the beaches in my mind, Costa Rican sand is volcanic sand, & the beaches are more like little pockets tucked inside the lush green rainforest where you’ll find more fishermen than swimmers. Also, didn’t see chips & guacamole once– saddest part of the trip. Our favorite restaurant was surprisingly the Japanese restaurant, Tokio. I miss their fried rice.
What I did experience at Hotel Riu Palace was the glory of massive breakfast buffet where I got to sit outside & listen to the ocean waves while I sipped coffee & enjoyed a delightful omelette made by the same smiling gentleman every morning. Then, there was the tough decision of if I wanted to swim or lay by the pool & read– & finally, where to eat dinner that evening (always Tokio) & if I wanted to stay up or go straight to bed (always bed) afterwards. Not one dish did I need to wash & not an empty cup was I handed for juice. Basically, every mom needs this trip quarterly.
We were there three full days– the first day was Mike & Dadra’s wedding so we stayed close by relaxing & exploring the resort a bit until the ceremony & reception (Basically, Blake swam & I read Where the Crawdads Sing). On the second day, eight of us went on an ATV excursion, & it was so much fun! I had never ridden, let alone driven, an ATV before, & I felt the power. At first, the guide had me at the front because I was the only one who had not driven one before & he had to be ready in case I drove into the green abyss, but it wasn’t long before I got promoted to the middle because even he saw that I was a total boss. Ha! We witnessed monkeys making a sound I didn’t know monkeys could make….it sounded more like a haunted house than anything. We stopped to watch them & take pictures, & as more & more monkeys started showing up in the trees, I thought, This is it. This is how we’ll die. The guide assured us by saying, they were actually very nice monkeys. Just don’t try to hold one because their tails are very strong, & they’ll choke you.
That evening, Mike & Dadra took all of us on a sunset catamaran ride, & it was gorgeous! I kept picturing myself as Moana finally discovering the heart of Tafiti. We stopped somewhere off shore & got to snorkel & attempt paddle boarding (I busted twice). The snorkeling was fun– the water there is pretty salty (I know all oceans are salty, guys, but this water seamed especially salty) so it wasn’t super clear, but we still got to see some cool ocean life. Plus, I love a good snorkel mask & flippers– so stylish & sexy.
On day three, Blake & I took a little boat over to a Playas del Coco, a little town close to our resort. I like exploring local living as much as I can, & this was the first time for us to leave the resort besides on the ATV excursion. It was a lot more touristy than I anticipated, but it was fun trying something out anyway, & we found neat souvenirs for the kids.
Overall, it was a super relaxing experience, the weather was great, & the people were incredibly friendly. If we go back down the road, we’ll stay inside the rainforest because I think that will offer a completely different experience. We looked at driving to a cool spot with activities like zip lining & hot springs inside the rain forest, but it was too far of a drive for how long we were staying (I think 7 hours round trip). Another time! But this was great for why we were there. Catching up with friends. Nobody’s sunscreen to apply but your own. And all of the lounge chairs around the pool had shade– that’s my kind of paradise.
And the song that fit perfectly with this destination? Wavin’ Flag by K’NAAN. I played it every morning on my headphones while I walked the beach before anyone else was awake. Bliss.