In my last blog post I told you about the beautiful views and yummy food of Costa Rica. As if that wasn’t enough, we experienced a couple of things I never have before…and may never again!
First stop is the Jaguar Rescue Center. It began as a small facility where two dedicated individuals began rehabilitating injured, orphaned and confiscated reptiles. It eventually grew into what it is today with many types of animals. Their goal is to rehabilitate and reintroduce animals into the wild, and provide a home for those that can never safely return. It was here that a lifelong dream of mine came true – I got to play with monkeys. No, really! We went into a small enclosure with some very feisty little guys. Upon entering, one promptly planted himself on my shoulder and went for a little ride. A couple of others hung very close and inspected me even closer. I think I passed. My boyfriend, however, didn’t fare so well. You can see one little guy was clearly offended by his eyebrows. There were toucans, sloths (which we could no longer play with as one had recently bitten off the thumb a volunteer) iguanas, and even a red eyed tree frog. It’s truly wonderful what these people are doing.
We were also lucky enough to go ride horses…something I’ve always loved. We drove miles down a tiny road, and I was certain our egg of a car was just going to give in. We made it though, mounted our noble (and a little ornery) steed, and set off with the guide. Walking through the rain forest, he pointed out plants and even some animals. We made our way to Playa Negra, which translate to Black Beach. The sand is black, and it is beautiful! There was no one else to be found on the beach and our horses took off, galloping and playing. I had one of those all too rare moments in life where time just seems to freeze and you are able to soak in and appreciate every single sight, smell, and feeling. I will never forget the sense of freedom as my horse took off down a deserted black sand beach. Not every one can say they’ve done that, and I certainly am appreciative and humbled by the opportunity. But a horse is a horse, of course, of course (name that reference!) and mine decided perhaps falling off my bike wasn’t enough. The guide instructed me not to let him stop and eat as he was a bit of a pig, and when I pulled the reigns up he bucked me. By some miracle I managed to stay on, and the guys were looking at me in bewilderment. If my life were a movie, I imagine that would have been the perfect time for a slow clap.
We came home late that evening after burying a rum bottle with a letter to ourselves. I hope we go back sooner rather than later to retrieve it. We were welcomed by a pair of bullfrogs just keeping each other company. On our last day I awoke at 6 am, relishing in the sound of the ocean. Then I remembered we were supposed to be headed to San Jose to catch our flight already! My boyfriend had decided we should stay an extra day. I was thrilled! We called the woman we rented the house from to make arrangements, and she informed us that the only main road to San Jose had been shut down due to torrential rains, and they were unsure when it would reopen. She was happy to let us stay an extra night at no charge, and we rescheduled our flight and just crossed our fingers that we could make it. (I really didn’t cross mine too tight, but alas, it didn’t work.) The last day ended up being one of the most rewarding. We went for a walk down the road where our house was, and finally spotted the beasts we had been hearing at all hours…howler monkeys. If you’ve never heard one, check out this video.www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ihWw_4aOBY&list=PL2CAE102296D25A24&index=5 A little eerie, but exciting at the same time. We came across a clan playing in the trees. In the picture on the left you can see one with a mouth full of leaves. We went back to the house and had a snack on the deck. I noticed something moving ever so slowly in the trees right in front of us. It was a sloth with her baby. I have never seen anything so cute in all my life. The mother spread out in the trees beneath her baby making a “sloth safety net” while the little one learned to climb and play. We spent our last afternoon lying on the beach eating fresh fried plantains. It was most definitely an experience I will never forget.
I’m very grateful to have had this chance, and I highly recommend that each one of you try to explore and new country and culture at some point in your life. It was humbling, educational, and some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.
We are currently planning a trip to Germany this summer! I’ll be sharing planning tips with you, and of course my trip once we return.