not easy being green
Turns out Kermit was wrong. For Costa Rica at least, which has to have been one of the greenest countries we’ve visited on the trip so far. As we traveled this small country we couldn’t help but be in constant awe of its beauty. Something that Jeroen’s parents (who were traveling with us) felt too.
First off there’s the vast amount of national park and protected areas. So many for such a small country. From the beach-front rainforest of Cahuita National Park, to the El Arenal Volcano National Park and thermal baths in La Fortuna, to the cloud forests of Monteverde, to the rainforest areas at the beaches of Playa el Coco and finally (our favorite) Manuel Antonio National Park and the surrounding area; no matter where we were in the country we didn’t have to look very far for lush areas to explore. To top it off, as we drove the (1600 km) around the country (trying not to be killed by the crazy Costa Rican drivers we might add) we were surrounded by tree covered mountains, sweeping green valleys, banana farms, palm tree farms, pineapple farms, coffee farms. Really stunning to see; especially during rain season when every brief downpour (we had them almost daily although never for very long) seemed to enhance the beauty even more.
National Parks in Costa Rica (click picture to enlarge)
Then you have the animals. It was like being up close on a David Attenborough show (except with Jeroen’s parents giving the background commentary much of the time). Two fingered sloths, three fingered sloths (totally different apparently), white faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, Jesus Christ lizards, humming birds, Central America whiptail lizards, iguanas, toucans, macaws, snakes (although Carl was not so pleased with this when walking from our hotel at night and one went over his foot – naturally he chose a different route back to the hotel!), crocodiles, frogs, coatis, bats and any number of different creepy crawlies (not such a fan). And no doubt more that we can’t quite remember. Many of these we’d just see in the trees surrounding our hotel room; in particular the monkeys (Carl’s spirit animals we decided) who would travel back and forth with their troop to find a home for the night and the sloths (definitely Jeroen’s spirit animal) who would slowly go about their business. At a certain point it became so commonplace that it was like “oh, another animal, so what else is new?” (albeit still getting excited at the sight).
Animals of Costa Rica (click picture to enlarge)
Finally there’s the people. There’s a phrase in Costa Rica, ‘pura vida’, loosely translated as ‘pure life’. Except it hasn’t really got a direct translation. And it’s more than just a phrase for the people there. It’s a greeting (used to say hello and goodbye). It’s a thank you. It’s a way of showing happiness or contentment. It’s a mindset. It’s a way of life. And wherever you are in the country you see this (from the eco-friendly tour guides we did river tubing and zip lining with, to the eco-friendly owners of the properties we stayed at, to all the locals we met along the way). People generally (and genuinely) care about having a good environment around them, about making sure that their nature and wildlife are respected and taken care of and about having a simple and relatively healthy life. And as a visitor it definitely rubs off (although we did get a bit frustrated at some point with their super strict smoking laws). Without this mantra we’re sure that Costa Rica wouldn’t be half as beautiful as it is.
Experiences in Costa Rica (click picture to enlarge)
Jeroen’s mum & dad summed it up well in a message (In English and Dutch) they sent to us after the trip:
Costa Rica mei, 2019
Na een geweldig huwelijksweekend van Carl & Jeroen, 7 maanden voorbereiding, en een vliegreis van 12 uur konden we eindelijk de jongens weer in onze armen sluiten. Wat een fantastische ervaring!
Voor ons, een geweldige, indrukwekkende, intensieve reis en vooral de dankbaarheid om dit avontuur met je kinderen aan te gaan. Voor Carl & Jeroen; de knop omzetten en zeker een verstoring van hun normale reisritme, budget (overschrijding), accommodatie keuzes en vooral een ander reisgezelschap (ouders).
Maar het was het allemaal zeker waard; de steile zeer hobbelige bergwegen, de plensbuien tijdens de boottocht de klimtochten naar de lava van de vulkaan Arenal en de hete wandelingen in de bush met apen en luiaards. Costa Rica: wat een prachtig vriendelijk land met vele niet te beschrijven (zie foto’s) mooie uitzichten en stranden. Eindelijk 1 grote groene dierentuin overal uitmondend in de Caribische Zee of Stille Oceaan. De prachtige foto’s van apen, luiaards, wasberen, vogels, krokodillen alle andere prachtige dieren het bewijs dat zij daar in vrijheid mogen leven.
Maar met als hoogtepunt, het 3 weken te mogen rondtrekken met 2 prachtige mannen (Carl & Jeroen); van San Jose tot Manuel Antonio. Het afscheid was veel zwaarder dan 7 maanden geleden maar ook dit went wel weer. Nu rest ons nog dank voor alles en geniet verder van jullie prachtige onderneming.
Veel liefs, Ed & Ria
Costa Rica May, 2019
After a great wedding weekend of Carl & Jeroen, 7 months of preparation and anticipation, and a 12 hour flight we were finally able to hug the boys again. What a fantastic experience!
For us an amazing, impressive, intense journey filled with gratitude to be able to share this adventure with your children. For Carl & Jeroen they had to flip a switch and change their normal travel rhythm, budget (overrunning), accommodation choices and get used to different travel companions (their parents).
But it was certainly worth it; the steep, very bumpy mountain roads, the rainshowers during the boat trip, the climbing trips to the lavafields of Volcano Arenal and the very hot hikes through the tropics with monkeys and sloths. Costa Rica: what a beautiful and friendly country with its many undiscribable (see photos) beautiful views and beaches. In the end it’s just one big green zoo all leading into the Caribbean Sea or Pacific Ocean. The beautiful pictures of monkeys, sloths, raccoons, birds, crocodiles and all other beautiful animals prove that they can live their in freedom.
But the highlight of all was being allowed to travel for 3 weeks with two beautiful men (Carl & Jeroen); starting in San Jose all the way to Manuel Antonio. The farewell was much heavier than 7 months ago, but we will get used to it again. Ending this with a thank you for everything and enjoy the rest of your wonderful expedition.
Much love, Ed & Ria.
So there you have it. One of the most wonderful months in nature we’ve had. Seconding what Jeroen’s parents said; what made it even more amazing was to experience it with them.
With that said, we were happy to get back to a bit more urban life for a while. There’s only so many weeks of jungle and wildlife we can take. We are city boys after all; more adapted to a different kind of jungle. More on that and our time in Nicaragua’s cities next time.
Pura vida Costa Rica!
- Countries visited: 10
- Cities visited: 54
- Distance travelled: 37.836 km
- Modes of transport:
- Plane (16),
- Night-bus (11),
- Day bus (30),
- Boat (6),
- 4×4 (1),
- Trekking (2),
- Taxi (5),
- Road trip (8)