“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.” – James Michener
It's always a bit sad to have to leave a country, especially one you've enjoyed so much, as we did Nicaragua. But it's also exciting to have something entirely new to look forward to, not to mention the ever so exciting travel day you get to experience.
Leaving Casa de Olas after a Sunday Funday was far from a fun day. My sister Amy and her husband, Nick, as well as a friend from Chicago, Marly, were all arriving in Costa Rica that day and I was supposed to meet them in Quepos around 5pm. Despite being up and packed early, we realized this was not going to happen as the day went on. We caught a cab to the border, walked across the border, and then began walking along the side of the road, arms outstretched and thumbs held high. With no one driving by, I was beginning to feel a bit panic stricken. Just then a semi rolled to a stop beside us. Melissa and I exchanged glances, shrugged, and climbed upwards into the truck.
(photo cred: Melsie Kellogg)
(photo cred: Melsie Kellogg)
Estuardo was our friendly driver, who hauled marshmallows from Guatemala to Panama. He was going straight through Quepos - perfect. Or so we thought. We soon realized what was thought to be our quick ticket to our destination was going to be a long, very slow ride. With frequent stops and pullovers to wait for his friend, Ronny, Melissa and I were thinking of what else we could do as far as transportation. The final straw was the 4th or 5th stop, when Estuardo had to grab a drink, and we spotted him and his friends, taking pictures of their rigs, then sitting roadside enjoying beers and dinner. Granted we were getting a free ride, but with time against us, we couldn't sit around anymore. We had to find a new ride. I stayed in the cabin while Melissa stood roadside in an attempt to catch a ride. Within a few minutes we were grabbing our packs and hopping in with a couple from Costa Rica. They took us a few miles down the road where we were once again left hoping for a ride. That's when Glenn, an expat from California came along. He had passed us, had a change of heart, then turned back and offered a ride. He had never picked up hitchhikers before and we were very glad he decided to that day. He brought us into Jaco and dropped us at the bus station where we had about an hour and half ride into Quepos. It was now dark and hours past our supposed meeting time. With no way to communicate, I was pretty stressed and feeling very guilty. Poor Marly was left to wait around town - I still owe you a good meal or something, Marly!
Although it was stressful, that day will forever stand out as a top travel day. I would have never thought I'd be bouncing along in the cabin of someone's semi, riding through the beautiful and lush tree lined roads of Costa Rica. I'm sure you're thinking we're crazy and stupid to have done so, but we could immediately tell our drivers were good, trustworthy people. And hey, we're still alive and well :) I will say, it was an experience I'll never forget bobbin' along in that truck. I recall slowly opening my eyes after a hazy nap, sweat dripping down my face, chest and back. I awoke to the sound of mariachi music playing softly on the radio and trucker banter over the CB radio. In that moment I laughed aloud, realizing how comical our current situation was, and knowing I had quite the story to reminisce about when I'm older and missing this lifestyle.
Well anyways, we finally arrived, having traveled half the country and only spending a few bucks on the bus that brought us the last leg of the journey. Alas, we could relax and enjoy this beautiful home Nick & Amy rented for the week.
The view from our front door
Our house was only minutes outside of Quepos, in an area known as Manuel Antonio. The road bringing you into town winds and curves up and down through Costa Rica's beautiful lush hills, with breathtaking views of the ocean the whole way. Having this house was beyond luxurious for us at this point in our trip. AirCon, hot water, soft, clean towels, a washer and dryer, the ability to flush your toilet paper, and a deliciously comfortable bed! You begin to value the smallest things while on the road. Like water pressure. I'm over never hot or even warm water, but to have a shower that has decent water pressure is a treasured gem at any hostel. No AC is fine too, but the smallest breeze is gold.
Enjoying sunset and sangria at Ronny's Place in Manuel Antonio
Quite the view to wake up to!
Sloth sighting in Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio
We were only minutes down the road from this beautiful national park.
Amita y Yo
Sweat city while hiking around the park. Rainy season had begun in Costa Rica, creating humidity that was off the charts.
Words can't express how nice it was to have our three visitors. Amy & Nick are two of the funniest, weirdest, and best people in my life and I'm so thankful they were able to make it down for a visit. We were missing our little Madison like crazy, but the whole week was a reminder as to how fortunate I am to have such an amazing, supportive family. Nick & Ames - I miss you guys so much! You ma best friends and I love you!
A night out's not complete without some self-timer camera action
We hit the town one night after enjoying some delicious Italian take out. We headed to the club all the locals had told us was the place to be. It was packed, super hot and sweaty, and 100% authentic. We found some space to dance and stayed for a bit before venturing into the streets and enjoying THE best fried chicken I've ever had. Like I keep sayin', they know how to do chicken down here.
We headed to another bar across the river and continued to dance the night away. We found our surf instructors from the day before who then became our dance instructors, twirling about for hours dancing salsa & bachata.
One day we headed to another nearby town, Dominical, for some hiking and waterfall action. We hiked through the countryside and up into the hills towards Nauyaca Falls.
We first headed to the upper falls and swam around a bit in the cool, refreshing waters.
The view from the lower falls
We were fortunate enough to make it to the lower falls while a tour group was there. We spotted two men who looked like they could be guides sitting on some rocks with an inner tube and rope. I asked them where we could jump from the falls. "Quieres tirarse?" they asked. And with that they stripped down, jumped in the water and began setting up. We weren't sure as to what exactly we were supposed to do but swimming out towards the tube was our best bet. After battling the raging waters and currents of the falls we made it to the tube, and from there they reeled us in towards the rocks at the base. Then, we more or less blindly climbed up the rocks, hardly able to see with the water beating down on us.
From there we threw ourselves from the 30 ft. ledge
It was a serious adrenaline rush, between the swim out there, the climb and the jump - we were all on a high the rest of the day.
Waterfalls in the distance
We topped off our day by enjoying a rope swing we happened to catch a glimpse of on the walk back to the car. ¿Por qué no? we said.
Amers & Nick's date night their last night.
The week came to an end far to quickly and before we knew it we were loaded up in the car and headed towards the airport. Marly, Melissa & I were headed to Montezuma, on the Nicoya Peninsula and had to catch a bus. Amy and Nick took us part of the way before dropping us off at a bus stop along the side of the road. But first, we crossed "Crocodile Bridge" near Jaco. I believe we counted 38 crocs.
As we waited for our bus, these locals were doing some clean up. We noticed them taking pictures of us, so, I asked if I could take photos of them. I love capturing the people wherever we are but feel very uncomfortable doing so. This was a perfect opportunity to do so and not feel weird about it. I asked and she simply laughed and did this. Sooo...maybe she didn't want a photo taken?
All in all it was an absolutely incredible week. Having Amy & Nick there was a dream and they treated us to so many things which we were all so grateful for! You guys are the best. Really.