Alyssa’s Costa Rica Adventure: Arenal

Oh, Double Chinners, how sad I am to be back in the Estados Unidos! I just had an amazing vacation in Costa Rica. My husband turned 30 this year, so we decided to celebrate the milestone with an awesome vacation. Airfare to Costa Rica was a steal, so we snatched it up and jetted off to CR. My father-in-law came along, and together, we zigzagged around the country, up unpaved roads, down muddy canyons, and across many, many, giant mountains, breathing in the beauty of the rain forest. I’ll split these posts into a few as there are just way too many things to tell you about. I’ll start with Arenal, a picturesque town at the base of a giant, dormant volcano (though active until five years ago).

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We stayed at Mountain Paradise Hotel, and Trip Advisor definitely didn’t lead me astray on this one. Each room was its own private bungalow, with a stunning waterfall rock shower, private patio with outdoor bath tub, and two rocking chairs for admiring the flora and fauna. Can you believe this room was about $89 a night? Yeah, me neither. They even knew to send me a tabby! (Just kidding:this little kitty found her way to me after discovering we were eating sandwiches. So, I named her Torta.)

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On our second day in Costa Rica, we decided to explore the Arenal Hanging Bridges. While these bridges wobble and sway a little bit, they’re no Indiana Jones bridges. They’re reinforced steel with plenty of hand rails. We hired a local guide, and climbed two miles into the rain forest. We saw two kinds of monkeys, Howler and Squirrel, tarantula holes and eventually, a tarantula, all kinds of birds, and the prize of the trip: a sloth! Had it not been for the guide, I would have never known that this tiny, brown ball of matted fur was a sloth. We used his telescope to zoom in and catch a peep of his blinking brown eyes. Did you know the Spanish word for sloth is Perezoso, which literally means lazy? Also that the sloth only comes down from the tree tops once a week, to poop, because if he pooped right from the tree, predators would easily sniff him out, climb up the tree, and enjoy a sloth dinner.

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We climbed varying degrees of distances before we got to an amazing waterfall. It was pretty much paradise to see this tumbling, picture-perfect waterfall nestled in hills of lush, green vines and blooming plants. We posed for a couple quick photos before climbing the hill to the final and highest hanging bridge. No words can do this view justice, so I’ll just show you.

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See? It’s been a bucket list item of mine that I can now cross off my list to see the rain forest. Especially as our natural resources disappear, it’s important to take in their beauty while you can. The beauty was endless in Costa Rica. We were all pretty thoroughly impressed, and headed back to our room for a brief rest before our night hike into the jungle.

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With a guide from Arenal Oasis tour, we set out into the rain forest with flashlights and our rain jackets in search of frogs. Though it took awhile to spot our first one, I had fun bantering with the guide, who spoke a universal language in which I am fluent: sarcasm. We spotted a few toads, millipedes, and stick bugs, and then, he asked us all to turn off our flashlights for a minute. Holy crikey, the rain forest is DARK in the jungle. Total immersion of darkness plus humidity plus the sounds of singing birds, chirping frogs, crackling leaves? Super cool. He pointed out a type of fungus that glows in the dark, and sure enough, as we looked around we could see blue fungus glistening in the darkness, like magical mushrooms. In the light they looked just like another ordinary stick on the ground, but in the darkness, oh how they shine.

We spotted two poisonous pit vipers, which are actually fairly small snakes (or at least the ones we saw, were).

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Then, we all looked around aimlessly trying to find the red eyed tree frog. This frog is the image of Costa Rica, and I have no doubt you’ve seen his image every where. Finally, the guide called us over and we spotted this lovely specimen lounging in a banana leaf. He kindly posed long enough for me to snap two of my favorite photos of the whole vacation, and then he scurried up the banana tree and back to his safe shell of darkness.

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How frickin cool is that, right? We headed back to our hotel, where we enjoyed frosty libations in the waterfall pool before tucking in for the night, lulled to sleep by the sweet croaking and crooning of exotic frogs and the occasional warbled “meow” at our screen door. The next day we were off to Monteverde… one of the few cloud forests in the world. Stay tuned !

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