Costa Rica (…the FUN part!)

I wrote about the BEACH-part of our 14-year anniversary trip HERE.  But, there was actually an entirely different experience waiting for us just 5 hours away that was JUST as spectacular!

We rented a tiny, manual car and started our long drive to ‘Arenal Volcano’.
Curvy, dirt roads… No street signs… No GPS… No English-speaking peeps… No problem!  I had Matthew.  (Otherwise, this would have been a HUGE problem!)

We passed lots of small villages… all filled with SO much color and life.  Even the DOG looks happy, right?!?!
And then we saw THIS guy and KNEW we were close!
Instead of using our Marriott points, we actually paid for our first night.  (Gasp.)  But, it turned out to be a GREAT experience (…and deal)!
Matthew made reservations at Hotel Arenal Manoa.  We had our own little house- looking straight at the volcano.  (The middle photo is us in bed with our toes at the bottom.)  We also enjoyed an incredible couple’s massage that felt like we were in the middle of a rain forest.  There was a hot-spring pool that was wonderfully warm.  A wonderful dinner AND the BEST breakfast buffet I’ve had in a long time.  (All for $183.50.  Not bad, right?!?!)1stnight
But one of the MAIN reasons we originally choose Costa Rica was because it was ranked 3rd in the WORLD for zip-lining!  Our day of zip-lining (with Sky+Trek) was one of the most MEMORABLE and exciting days of my life!

Try to imagine:
8 different zip-lines…
Over a rain forest…
An active volcano beside you…
656 ft. high…
1,440 ft. long…
speeding across 50 miles an hour!

IMG_9873 copyIMG_9872 copy4

Afterwards, we stopped at a FREE-SPIRITED HOSTILE “Bed & Breakfast” (how they labeled themselves on Trip Advisor), for lunch.  As we waited for our lunch to cook on the huge, open grill beside us, we took a hike down the little mountain.  GREAT stop!
Once again, I had a GREAT view… no matter where I choose to look!toadhall
I love how they described themselves as “SWANKY” on their signs… DSC_1104n

This was not a well-thought out arrangement.  These are the kind of flowers that grow like crazy (everywhere) in Costa Rica.  It’s so beautiful!DSC_1141nDSC_2032n

These were not the ‘best flowers’ I saw over a week‘s time in Costa Rica.  Not at all!  These photos were JUST the flowers that we passed on our 10 minute walk to the pool one morning!  Costa Rica’s beauty is outta’ controlflowers

Our family started a “Friday Night Pizza Night” tradition several years ago.
On the weeks when we knew we needed to save money, we’d just go through a drive-thru with a coupon!
On the weeks when friends invited us over, we’d just tell them we already had plans!
On the weeks when it stormed so badly (no one else in their right mind was out), we drove slow, ran in and watched the storm pass by over a supreme pizza!

So, on Thursday in Costa Rica when we walked pass an open, pretty pizza kitchen in town, we KNEW that’s where we’d be eating dinner the next night!  fridaynight

Before we left, I told my dad, “I’d just LOOOOVE to see a monkey!”  (He warned me NOT to smile at them because he heard they see teeth as a sign of aggression.  Which made me laugh.  Big time.)  So we asked our hotel if there were any around and they casually told us about a ‘hike’ we could do on their property.  After being in the crazy-heat a few minutes and realizing the ‘hike’ was a concrete sidewalk, we just jumped into the car and rode around.  As we were pulling back into the hotel parking lot, I looked up into a big tree by the entrance and saw a ton of little black spots.

As I looked closer, I could see those ‘little black spots’ were MONKEYS!

Yes, we jumped out!

Yes, we offered them our banana!
(Yes, we probably got too close!)
Yes, we even SMILED at them!   🙂

So, if I had to title this collection of monkey photos, it would simply be “Psalm 37:4”MONKEYS

Just a few from Matthew’s phone…mrm5

Last spot… another gorgeous hotel in San JoseUntitled-1

So, is COSTA RICA a place EVERYONE should try to visit?!?!

Well, if you’re not afraid of:
Occasional rain…
Sharing old, dirt roads with goats, pigs, cows, horses, dogs and cats…
Little English…
No road signs…
Unknown food…

And, you LOVE:
Natural beauty
New experiences…
and volcanoes…

You should DEFINITELY add Costa Rica to your bucket-list!


The trip was so incredible.  And the icing on the cake was having my parents and sister meet us in Atlanta for our long layover back home!  Not only did they steal us from the airport and take us to the Varsity for lunch, they also drove us back to Lawrenceville to see my grandparents for a few hours!  var

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