The more time I spend with family, the more I realize one thing is evident: We all have a passion for world travel. So, when it came time to pick the perfect location for a wedding, my cousin Jasmine didn’t settle for her hometown. Instead, she looked far and beyond. Her and her fiance’s pick? Central America’s ecotourism hotspot, Costa Rica. Immediately various cousins, aunts and uncles jumped on board and our travel group quickly began to grow. On a cold, rainy and extremely windy evening in Chicago, my mom asked if I’d like to join. Hearing gusts of wind moaning outside my bedroom window, I responded instantly: “Yes.” Although I had been to nearby countries in South America, to my delight, Costa Rica had plenty of adventures I hadn’t experienced yet. Camera ready and armed with sunscreen and bug spray, I was ready to take on the opportunities Costa Rica’s cities had to offer.
- Nothing beats the view of Volcan Arenal in your backyard, and I found myself constantly fascinated by the volcano’s natural beauty that could instantly turn into a natural disaster if you were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Volcan Arenal’s most eruptive period began in 1968 when the volcano’s eruption buried three small villages and left 87 people dead. Luckily for my family, since 2010 the eruptions have been less frequent and less dangerous.
- Although I didn’t hike Volcan Arenal, the opportunity to explore the local scenery on horseback didn’t disappoint me or my travel party. A hike to a waterfall at the end of the journey was the icing on the cake and the beginning of my experience with Costa Rica’s lush landscape full of rich blossoms.
- Ziplining through Costa Rica’s canopies lived up to its hype. Feeling like a bird or a monkey swinging through the trees became the ultimate Costa Rica experience. Riding through the full green treetops and blue skies felt as though I was gliding through a movie scene and I often felt as though I was Indiana Jones on my own historic, action-packed adventure.
- Even though there was hope to see more animals in their natural habitats, a visit to Selvatura Park’s Butterfly and Hummingbird Gardens as well as Curi-Cancha Reserve’s day and night hikes gave me a closer look at life we often overlook. Seeing Darwin’s theory of Survival of the Fittest in action when a blue butterfly flap it wings to change from blue to a brown pattern for camouflage or finding a scorpion eating a spider at night gave me a better sense of the nature of life than any textbook could.
- Although Ziplining had great views, just as equally fascinating was walking through the jungles on hanging bridges. I’ve hiked through mountains in Colorado, deserts in Utah and beaches in California, but I had yet to experience the jungle. After walking through the giant trees and abundant greenery, I know I’ll be back to visit the jungle, hopefully soon.
- I was never much into sports as a kid, but the one sport I loved was swimming. Having surfing lessons a couple of years ago and a short crush on Olympic athlete Chad Le Clos, it comes as no surprise that the beach was my favorite part of this city and the trip. Spending an afternoon in the waves and taking on stronger currents with my cousins Eric and Isaac was an adrenaline rush. Watching the sunsets after a family boat ride was the perfect way to end the day and the vacation.
- Fruit drinks were abundant throughout Costa Rica, but it seemed where we craved these the most was Tamarindo. After a hot and humid day, a refreshing fruit drink of Blackberry, Watermelon or Guava left us delicious memories and craving for more.
Even though I have plenty of destinations to explore in Central America, Costa Rica was an enjoyable introduction to this part of the world. I felt as though I was extending my memories of Ecuador and Peru, but it opened up other possibilities to nearby countries and cities. My plans for Central America continue to grow, but in the meantime I’m left with the dream of gliding through the trees, hoping for a refreshing tropical fruit drink or wondering when I’ll get to see a historic landscape in my backyard. Until I make my way back to Central America, I’ll be thinking of where the next destination wedding will take place . . .
This post is a part of Monday Escapes hosted by My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase, Our World Tuesday, Weekend Wanderlust hosted by A Brit and a Southerner, A Southern Gypsy, Eat Work Travel, Justin Plus Lauren and One Modern Couple, The Weekly Postcard hosted by Travel Notes & Beyond, Photo Friday hosted by Pierced Wonderings, Monday Mellow Yellows and Practical Mondays hosted by The Practical Mom.