At the end of January, my friends Bruno and Beth visited from Winters, CA. They only spent a couple nights with us, but it was really great to see them. I, of course, took no photos during their visits, but I was very happy to receive a couple bottles of the delicious and (somewhat) hard-to-acquire Pliny the Elder from Bruno.
At the beginning of February, I went on a trip to Granada, Nicaragua to renew my visa and visit my friends, Toña and Victoria (beers, of course). I spent a few days exploring the city, which is fairly lively and features lots of Spanish colonial-style architecture. I took a couple Spanish classes at Casa Nica Spanish School and had a bunch of great food. I recommend visiting, if you find yourself in Nicaragua wondering what to do.
After I returned to Costa Rica, my parents arrived from California for a twelve-day stay. Their visit prompted me to find new and interesting things to do in Costa Rica. We went into San Jose and visited a few museums — the Jade Museum, the Numismatic Museum, and the Pre-Colombian Gold Museum. All of them were great, but I appreciated the Pre-Columbian museum for its detail in describing the history of the native people before the Europeans arrived.
Along with Emily, we explored Zarcero, which is notable for its bizarre and awesome topiary in the center of town, and did some shopping in Sarchi. My parents later went back to buy a couple chairs!
My parents and I also traveled to two volcanos, Poás and Arenal, in a bit of a whirlwind tour. Luckily, we got to see the Poás crater on a clear day. The La Paz Waterfall Gardens were also great — Mom made friends with a toucan, and we saw lots of awesome former wildlife that were being protected by the gardens. Our good weather luck ran out at Arenal, but we did have a nice hike and some great food at Benedictus Steakhouse (highly recommended).
My brother, Alex, and his wife, Emily (confusing, I know), arrived about a week into my parents’ stay. On the day they arrived, we went on a tour at El Toledo Coffee Farm near Atenas, which I’d been wanting to do for a while. Their story of converting to organic farming is super interesting and provided a behind-the-scenes look into how that conversion works. Also, their coffee is great.
That weekend, we drove to Uvita. We stayed in cool house we found on AirBnB that was way up a rather steep dirt road, which had views of Parque Nacional Marino Ballena and the famous “whale’s tail” formed by a sandbar that is visible at low tide. We did the usual beach thing, and ate at a couple fantastic restaurants for dinner. Sabor Español in Uvita has delightful Spanish food, and it would have been the best meal of the weekend except we also went to Ylang Ylang, an Indonesian restaurant run by a Dutch couple in Ojochal. That might be the best meal I’ve ever had in my life, or at least tied for first place. It’s also a great place to catch the sunset. Thanks to Bruno and Beth for checking it out on their visit and recommending it to us!
To finish off the weekend, we went to Playa Espadilla, the public beach right near Manuel Antonio. The primary purpose of this visit was that my dad wanted to try parasailing. We had a great day, and he was able to check that off of his list!
My parents left the next day, and Alex, Emily (of SF), and I headed to Monteverde to check out the cloud forest. There was a conspicuous lack of clouds, due to warm weather. Cloud forests are particularly vulnerable to climate change. We stayed in a super cool tiny house and went on a couple great hikes with Three Brothers Tours. They were really fantastic and I’d recommend using them, or another reputable tour company. With the help of Elberth, our guide, we saw animals we would NEVER have seen on our own. We also learned more about the forest itself and some of the history of the area. I think the great part about it was that they weren’t pushy about it, so it just felt like a better situation. Too often Emily & I feel like we’re getting scammed by tour guides promoting their services at the trailhead. I think hiring in advance is the way to go.
I’m so glad that friends and family have been able to visit while we’re here. We’ve all had a great time traveling around Costa Rica. We don’t have any other visitors lined up at the moment — who’s next?