Last year I signed up to go to Costa Rica on a school trip with my best friend. It always seemed so far away- we started a countdown after we signed up and I remember it saying “400 days until Costa Rica!” Until I was in the airport at 4:30 am to head there, I still couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that this trip was actually happening.
There were 26 students along with 3 Spanish teachers from my school going on this trip. I knew one of the teachers (shoutout señora) and I had gotten closer with a couple girls going before the trip, and we were all super excited to experience it all together. We knew what we were going to be doing there but again, it wasn’t real until we got there. We went all over Costa Rica and saw soooo many cool things as well as getting to do some hands-on activities which was beyond fun.
Y’all don’t have to read everything below (it’s mostly for my family that keeps asking what I did every single day ;))) ). There’s a video at the very end though if you want to scroll to the bottom!!!!
DAY ONE- Arriving in San José
We had to be at the airport at 4:30 am, I had probably gotten 4 hours of sleep the night before- so your girl was tirrrrrred. I was running on adrenaline though, probably like most of the people going, so I wasn’t completely dead. So we flew to Fort Lauderdale then from there to San José, Costa Rica. Because of the time change we landed in Costa Rica around 2 (maybe?? Not entirely sure). What I’m getting at here is that we had most of the day left when we got there. From the airport we took a bus to get lunch at this farm/jungle/exotic/I don’t really know what it’s called place. It was sooo good and they gave us ice cream for dessert- I would fly back there just for the ice cream it was so good. We walked around and saw some cows, donkeys, pigs, dogs, peacocks, and a whole bunch of other animals. After that stop, we went to the hotel we were staying at for the night and just hung out until dinner. I was grateful for that time because I actually sat down and talked with a bunch of other girls and we all became pretty good friends. So we went to dinner and then that was about it for that night. Day one was down and I was already having the time of my life.
DAY TWO- Arriving at Tortuguero
On the second day, we got up and had breakfast at the hotel and packed up our things. We were on the bus for a little bit and then stopped at this little restaurant type thing for a SECOND breakfast. I was truly living my best life out there. There was a small trail through the jungle there too so after we ate we went back there and explored. Then back to the bus we went and traveled for a while until we got to this dock area where we had to take a boat to the lodge we were staying at for the next two nights. The boat ride was over an hour long but we made it and once we got off that boat at the lodge, people were right there handing you cold towels (#blessed) and these super good fruit drinks. I could’ve sworn this was all a dream it seemed so unreal. We had some down time then went into the little town nearby. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. There weren’t any cars, everyone just rode bikes and there was this little main road that went through the entire thing, so we never went off of it. Also, there’s dogs roaming everrrrrywhere I was in literal heaven AHH. Instead of taking a boat back to where we were staying, we walked down the beach. It’s along the Caribbean Sea and the sand was black which was something I’ve never seen before! We were all hot and gross from the walk back so we got into our swimsuits and went into the pool. The funny part about the pool was that we couldn’t jump in or anything because it was a “relaxation pool” boooooorrrring. Still so much fun though:)
Day three started off with a wildlife boat ride in the lake around the lodge. We saw spider monkeys, toucans, and alligators (among a bunch of others). It was so beyond peaceful and everywhere you looked it looked like something out of a painting. The landscape was ridiculous!! After the ride we went back and had some down time so we played some cards and listened to music under this huge gazebo before lunch. This whole day was pretty low-key so we just hung out around the place we were staying all day. At one point we did take a little nature walk which was cool because there’s so many different plants and things that grow there. After dinner we played games that the señoras came up with, which was hilarious. This night was probably the funniest night of the whole trip. We got back into our rooms late and it was pouring so our roof started leaking in 4 spots. Imagine a couple girls trying to run around and put towels on the ground trying to soak everything up. Plus we were all slap happy (fabulous!!). Our room and our friends’ room shared a wall so you could literally hear everything. My friend Safina was showering in our room and my other friend Kyley was in the one next to us and you could hear them shouting back and forth to each other which was so flipping funny. Then there were lizards in Kyley’s shower and they started screaming. Needless to say, I have so many funny videos from that night.
DAY FOUR- Arriving at Arenal
We traveled most of this day to Arenal by bus, which meant many, many naps. As we got closer to the resort we were staying at, you could see this huuuuuge volcano. It was the wildest thing I’ve ever seen. Everyone planned to take pictures outside after we got settled into our rooms because the view was incredible. We get in our rooms and are all settled and we go outside and clouds are covering the entire volcano. So that failed 😦 Again, we just kind of hung out there for a while and then headed to the hot springs. I still don’t even understand what they are, all I know is that it’s all natural and it’s hot as heck. I honestly thought it would be like a pool, that’s what they looked like at least, but i stepped in and thought my foot was going to disintegrate (dramatic but you understand this was beyond hot tub hot- which is all I had ever known). They were easy to get used to and it was nice because there were some colder pools which felt super good. There were huge rocks around the whole thing and the whole time I couldn’t believe it was real life. Everything was so perfect it seemed like it had to be fake. A bunch of us ordered strawberry daiquiris or piña coladas (virgin of course;)) and we could drink them in the hot springs and I felt like Paris Hilton. Like when will I ever be sitting in a hot spring in Costa Rica with a drink it my hand again? The answer is in my dreams. After the hot springs, we went to the restaurant that was there and had dinner and headed back to where we were staying.
Day five was pretty much nonstop. All day. But it was so much fun. It started off with going to an indigenous hut right after breakfast. We listened to this man and women talk about life around there and showed us all these painted masks and instruments. After that we went on a hike in one of the national parks. The views were unnnnnnnreal. The pictures I took don’t even look real to me. We ended the hike at this dam and the water and the forests around it were literally breathtaking. After the hike we went to our rooms and grabbed swimsuits to head to the waterfall. Now THIS was absolutely insane. Not only is there this huge waterfall, but there’s also a place meant for swimming near the bottom. For starters, we had to walk down 500 steps to get to the bottom (don’t even get me started on the way back up). When we got to the bottom, everyone was taking pictures in front of the waterfall. Then we all went to the other side to go swimming. In Arenal, I can’t help but believe that there is NO in-between in water temperatures. This water was frigid. Like literally bone-chilling freezing. But that didn’t stop us! That evening we walked around the main part of Arenal and we were able to roam the city for a while. It was such a perfect night because it didn’t rain at all (we went during the rainy season so most of the time it was raining), and it was a whole new experience. I’ve only ever walked around towns in the U.S. and it’s crazy how different it is there. Good different!! The people are very nice and the best part is that in some shops there were just dogs hanging out- I teared up every time we had to leave a dog. After walking around the town, we headed back in for the night.
DAY SIX – Arriving at Monteverde
The day we almost died. (#clickbaitbutalsokindatrue) We all knew that day was going to be for traveling to Monteverde but we didn’t know what was to come. We were told the ride would be about 4 hours, and then add stops to that. So we were thinking we would be traveling about 6 hours of the day. We loaded up the bus and headed out. Things were going smoothly for the first 3 hours or so. Now picture this- we are in a huge charter bus, we’re going up a mountain, the lane we drove on was all gravel and was probably 1.5 lanes wide, it’s down pouring, we have people getting carsick from the ride, and it was just about time for lunch. We’re headed up this mountain and we see water running down this trail looking thing. My friend jokes and says “it’s gonna be a mudslide” haha little did she know we were in for it. Two minutes after we saw that, the bus stops. My friends and I all sat in the very last row on the bus so we were confused because we couldn’t see anything up ahead. I inch my way closer to the front and out of the window I see a literal RIVER coming down the mountain towards us. We have a line of cars behind us, there’s no way we will get through this, and everyone starts to silently panic. We didn’t know if we were just going to wait it out or what. Our bus driver, Fernando (a true dawg), gets out and evaluates our situation. He gets on the bus and says he is going to turn the bus around. Turn. The. Bus. Around. He. Said. Remember- charter bus, 1.5 lane gravel road, on the right side of the road was a literal cliff (no railings, no small hill below, nothing but a straight cliff). We thought maybe we were all going to get off the bus while he turned it around because #wetakenochances, but nope there we sat. on the bus. people are crying (even some señoras were having some moments up at the front), others are having like literal panic attacks and some are texting their parents. In situations like that I can remain pretty calm (it’s not until after that it hits me), so I moved up where people were crying and tried to console them at least a little bit. I look to my pals in the very back row and their faces said it all. We were so close to that edge I honestly don’t understand how Fernando turned that whole bus around. My friend Safina took a picture of how close we were to the edge and MAN- were. we. close. to. the. edge. Everyone got up and clapped and cheered when we were finally turned around and moving in the opposite direction. I’ll never forget that. So long story short, our 6 hour traveling day was literally 10 hours long (we had to find another route). That night we went on a night hike which was pretty fun until our guide pointed out a snake. Then it wasn’t so fun (I am TERRIFIED of snakes). Scary day is all I have to say.
Also a very memorable day. This time it wasn’t scary though- thankfully. We started the day with zip lining. There were 6 of them we went on (pretty sure) and it was unlike anything I’ve ever done. We were like 200+ feet in the air and we went over all these trees and it was amazing. I’m not afraid of heights so I wasn’t really scared at all which was nice. It was soooo much fun and when we were finished, to get back to the ground we had to bungee jump off this platform and I still don’t know how I did that, but I’m proud I did!! I would for sure do it all over again though. After zip lining, we went to this person’s house and made ourselves lunch. We rolled out tortillas and made this very very good salad/rice and then made desert! The desert was out of this world. I don’t even know what it’s called (helpful!!) but it was like this fried elephant ear looking thing with this honey syrup on top- I couldn’t tell you how many of them I ate. After we ate and cleaned up, we went on a hike- while it was pouring. Like our backpacks and everything smelled awful when we got back to the hotel. After that I stayed in and we had free time at the hotel until dinner!
DAY EIGHT- Back to San José
We left our hotel right after breakfast and made our way back to San José for our last night. We stopped multiple times on the way there. We first stopped at this sweet little old ladies house and she had made us all lunch (very very good). Then we stopped at an elementary school and it was SO MUCH FUN. The kids were adorable and we played a game of soccer with them and your girl here is not a huge soccer fan, but I was having the time of my life! I hated leaving them but I am so thankful we were able to stop there for an hour. We went to this coffee plantation after that which was very interesting too!! After a long bus ride, we finally made it back to San José. We stayed at the same hotel we stayed at our first night and it was crazy to think how fast the whole trip flew by. We were all supposed to dress up for dinner that night with our cute dresses and actually do our hair and put makeup on. But things don’t always work out like planned so we got into the hotel and had literally 10 minutes to be back downstairs and ready to eat. So the señoras just shouted out room numbers and random people and we all ran upstairs and got ready. We were stressed!!! We made it down on time though (still not sure how) and we all went into the restaurant (it was in the hotel). When we sat down, this group got up in front of us and danced and it was honestly pretty cool. The best part was when they grabbed people from our group afterwards and made them dance too! It was the perfect last night. After dinner we all took pictures and just hung around and talked for an hour or so. We were all sad because this trip was so good to all of us and nobody wanted to leave!
DAY NINE- Going back home
The saddest day everrrrr. Packing up my suitcase had me DEEP in my feels. This trip was nothing short of amazing and went beyond any expectations I had. We went to the airport and said bye to Fernando and our g.o.a.t. of a tour guide, José (he was a real one). My friend had gotten very sick that morning and your homegirl was the sick caretaker that day. When we got to the Fort Lauderdale airport another friend had a 103.5 degree fever (yay!!!) so now I was watching out for the two of them. I felt so bad for them- we were so close to being home yet so far. I do not understand how I haven’t gotten sick or anything but I’m still knocking on wood!
This trip was the best trip I had ever been on. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Everything was incredible and I am so grateful I was able to experience it all!! Until next time Costa Rica!!!! Pura Vida!