It’s a pirates life for me…maybe

Our final full day in Tamarindo was spent on a sunset cruise. Don’t let the name of the cruise fool you it was actually more like an afternoon cruise considering it started at 1pm.

We were transported from the beach to our boat to start our afternoon. When we arrived at the boat I was a bit shocked, I thought we’d be cruising on a catamaran but it turned out to be a true sailboat.

When we got on board all of my bean bag chair dreams came true. My co-workers know that all I’ve ever wanted for the office is a bean bag chair. The entire boat was lined with bean bag chairs for lounging.

We settled in and were immediately served fresh fruit juice yum! Once abroad we set sail. They trip included live music on the boat, an open bar and 5 gourmet courses.

Courses:

  1. fresh green salad
  2. salmon crustini
  3. tropical ceviche
  4. thai coconut curry
  5. churro cake

A few hours in we anchored by a beach, “playa huevo,” (egg beach – I think because it was shaped like an egg) only reachable by boat and had time to swim around and do some snorkeling.

I immediately jumped in and headed for the beach, once there I searched around for some good shells and even found a piece of coral. From there my plan was a swim over to the snorkeling area.

For those of you that don’t know me, my greatest fear in life is of fish. Especially being in the same body of water as them where they might touch or bite me. I kept trying to hype myself up to actually do it but upon the first sign of something that looked like a fish I freaked out, had a mini panic attack and high tailed it back to the boat. So snorkeling is still a work in process for me.

After our swim we headed back and it was finally time to enjoy the sunset. It was a such a pretty one too with not really a cloud in the sky. It was the perfect way to end our time in Tamarindo and my trip as a whole.

xx

michelle

hello bean bags…

the owners of the boat adopted/found/rescued this cute little kitten who’s name is kitty…

our live entertainment…

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An afternoon by the beach

We reached Tamarindo just in time for lunch. Stopping at this outdoor market with a bunch of different food vendors. Chicago friends, it was very much like the French Market or even the Wells St Market expect for the fact that is was all outdoors (I loved the indoor/outdoor aspect of virtually everything in Costa Rica).

lunch spot…

Bonus – I made a lizard friend, ok jk not really cause he ran away when I tried to get close but it still counts right?

my lizard friend…

After our lunch we headed to our airbnb and had a bit of a mix up that resulted in us almost lodging in the wrong complex. Once we got to our actual airbnb we dropped our stuff and walked down to the beach for a relaxing afternoon by the water.

Of course the child in me came out to play and I had to go crashing through the waves a few time in the water before looking around the beach for some cute seashells to bring home (free souvenirs!!).

Once I’d had enough of that I settled in and got some reading done while enjoying the passerby and start of the sunset. It was so pretty, I always forget how much I love watching the sunset on the beach and it’s a shame I don’t get to do it in my every day life. I suppose I could watch for lake Michigan but it’s just not the same.*

*Correction, the sun does not set over lake Michigan in Illinois so I actually can’t even watch it at home. Thanks for reminding me mom, oops!

From there we headed back to the airbnb to shower and relax before dinner.

Dinner was at an indoor/outdoor sushi club and was amazing. It reminded me of a tiki bar. Lots of much needed girl chat and a cute kitten roaming the restaurant filled the rest of the evening. Was definitely feeling all the feels.

xx

michelle

some beach pics…

 

The Road to Tamarindo

Before I get started with this post I’ve got a funny story to share. I was at lunch with my girlfriends from study abroad and we were talking about how I’ve started blogging about my travels again. My one friend says “I saw that, I get the notifications on Twitter” and I was like “Uh, I don’t have a Twitter,” idk how but my blog posts somehow find there way to Twitter… Should I be concerned? Probably. Do I care? Not at all.

Anyways back to Costa Rica. After our few days in Arenal we packed up and headed for the beach, yay! I think I mentioned this but if not I’ll mention it again. My friend has a car so we were able to drive from place to place which was nice because we didn’t have to follow a set timeline and could go as we please.

The drive from Arenal to Tamarindo was about 4 hours and it did not feel like four hours because the scenery was just that beautiful. The drive takes you north of Arenal and then West towards the Pacific ocean. Just north of Arenal is a man made lake that I think (don’t quote me) generates 46% of the electricity for all of Costa Rica. This lake is stunning and about an hour to an hour and a half of the drive was spent around the perimeter. It was so picturesque. At a certain point I made my friend pull over so I could get out of the car to take some photos (if you know me, this should not come as a surprise, ha!).

It’s was probably one of the best road trips I’ve been on in a long time. The windows were down, the music was going and the wind was whipping through our hair. It felt so easy and so pure. In those moments I truly felt free. Like I could do absolutely anything and everything.

xx

michelle

some photos from the drive…img_5948.jpgimg_5977.jpgimg_5985img_5995

photos from the spot I made my friend pull over…

for a brief time we were driving behind a truck full of cows, the one was just staring straight at us, you can see in the photo below it was so cute. but, it made us sad to see that all the cows were crammed into the truck with nothing to keep them from falling or crashing into one another. it was hard to watch them struggling to stay afoot amid the sharp curves in the road.

Rock Me Mama

Somehow after dinner our last night in Arenal we end up at a karaoke bar. I’ve never been into karaoke myself but we couldn’t help but check it out since we could hear people singing from our table at dinner.

We get comfortable at the bar and all of the sudden one of the men running karaoke brings over these makeshift maracas (we are talking two red solo cups taped together with some rice inside). He gives them to my friend and I to start shaking to add to the karaoke fun.

We take our maraca job very seriously and make sure to shake them really good for each karaoke singer (our arms were sore the next day, oops). Then we decide we have to go up and sing a song for ourselves – picking the American classic Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker.

Not going to lie I was nervous and there was maybe only 20 people in the bar max. I do have a bit of stage fright but, once we got going there was no stopping us. By the end I was screaming the lyrics vs. singing. Even if no one enjoyed listening to us it was fun to get outside my comfort zone and sing my little heart out.

It was the perfect way to end our time in Arenal.

xx

michelle

Arenal Volcano – A beautiful disaster

Our second day in Arenal started off with a quaint breakfast at the hotel. I loved how all the restaurants in Costa Rica are indoor/outdoor. They have roofs but no walls so you really get to enjoy the warm weather and the nature.

We decided to spend the morning ziplining. I had never been before and was super excited. It’s had always been something that I wanted to do but just never had the opportunity before.

I brought my go pro to try and get some vids of me swinging through the tress but I didn’t have the right attachment to take it with on the ziplines. Apparently it’s a two handed activity.

We got to go on 12 different lines, the longest being .5km (I think). Not going to lie the first one was a little scary but once you get the hang of it it was really fun and exhilarating.

With our zipline excursion we also go access to the hot spring pools at the attached resort. It was so nice to spend the afternoon relaxing in the water and at the swim up bar. It was my first time at a swim up bar ever and I am officially obsessed.

The pools also had these slides that were wicked fast and would whip you around and into the water. It was so much fun to swim like a child, without a care in the world. I haven’t done that in so long and it was such a treat.

In the afternoon we also got to catch a glimpse the top of the volcano. We have been told that typically the top isn’t visible and if it is only comes out for a couple minutes a day. We got to catch a few of those minutes and it was absolutely breath taking, almost a bit otherworldly. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to see that. To see the volcano in all it’s beauty. Now that I think about it, it’s really a beautiful disaster.

xx

michelle

Some photos taken from the resort gardens…

The hot springs river – An exclusive club

After the hike, it stops raining. Somehow we knew that’s exactly what would happen. Then we headed to the hot springs river, unsure of what to expect.

The bus pulls off to the side of the road and our guide announces that we are there. We are instructed to leave everything on the bus and only take ourselves. So here we are on the side of the road, in the pitch black (no street lights and it gets dark at 6pm), in nothing but our bathing suits.

We start heading down this alley way towards the river and not going to lie things were feeling a little sketchy at this point. But all of the sudden we get down to the river and it’s all lit up with flashlights and there are a ton of people in the water. The trees and rocks along the river make sort of a lagoon where the water pools allowing people sit and enjoy the running warm water.

Once in the water a man comes over and puts on a mineral face mask and our tour guide provide us with drinks (yes, with alcohol). All of the sudden it felt like we had entered this really exclusive club.

It was by far my favorite part of the entire trip. It was so unexpected and at first a little weird but ended up being really cool (or should I say warm since it was a hot springs river??) and relaxing.

xx

michelle

A Costa Rican Thanksgiving

First stop on our itinerary – Arenal Volcano.

We packed up the car Thanksgiving morning and headed for the hills. Our drive there was not without a few hiccups. Two bridges had recently collapsed causing traffic to be re-routed. This proved to be more difficult than you might imagine.

Roadways in Costa Rica are not like they are in the states. Some roads aren’t even paved. The signs put up to indicate the bridges were out were simply posters attached to a traffic cone labeled “no pase.”

Luckily a motorist saw us confused and stopped to explain the situation and provide some guidance for getting around.

In our re-route we encountered one of the down bridges. I’d never seen anything like it before. The bridge collapsed into a river while a truck was crossing. The broken bridge and the truck had fallen into the river. While it was not a long drop down it’s still haunting. To know that maybe these bridges can’t hold the weight that travels across – and nothing was being done to fix it. Locals just standing a the riverside looking at the mess.

But we had to continue on. Eventually making it safe and sound to our hotel in La Fortuna, one of the towns at the base of the volcano.

Once we arrived we decided to book a hiking and hot springs tour. The group picked us up from our hotel and we headed to the Arenal National park. Because we were visiting during rainy season just as we got there the sky opened up and it started to rain. But, the hike would go on.

We got to see some really cool foliage like citronella leaves (think mosquito repellent), the leaves sloths like to eat, rainbow trees and learned the history of the volcano and it’s eruptions. With the rain it made photo taking nearly impossible, even on my go pro. I don’t have many photos from this and the ones I do have are not very visible through the rain.

I am not going to lie. Hiking in the rain for over 2 hours was not fun. I was drenched and just generally uncomfortable. Being that it was Thanksgiving I tried to think what it was that I could be thankful for in this situation? How can I be thankful for anything in this situation? Let’s face it I was miserable…

But how lucky I am that when it is raining I have a home to take shelter in, to keep dry, to keep warm. So it was a lesson in humility – that I take my home, a place to live, for granted so often.

In retrospect, I am really glad we took that hike in the rain. We pushed ourselves, we were uncomfortable the whole time but we did it and are better for it.

The rain-forest is an incredible place and offers so much to learn. I hope so experience it again one day soon.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” -Marcel Proust

xx

michelle

Here’s a few photos of the greenery I took the next day: