On March 12th – 20th, 2017, I had the opportunity to study abroad with my school to study biomimicry and sustainability. We traveled all over Costa Rica. This was my second time out of the country, and it was amazing to experience yet another culture in a different part of the world!
3.12.17. Travel day. Flew out of Tulsa, had layover in Atlanta, then flew the rest of the way to San José, Costa Rica. We arrived at night, so we went straight to the hotel and went to sleep.
3.13.17. In San José, we had breakfast at the hotel, which was gallo pinto, pancakes with cinnamon, mango, orange juice, and coffee. The coffee was delicious, and the mango was significantly better tasting than in the U.S.
After breakfast, we drove by bus through San José and into the mountains. All of the mountains were covered with trees, and it was beautiful. We drove through a tunnel that went right through a volcano. On our way to Tortuguero, we stopped at a buffet and a supermarket to get food and buy water.We finally got to tortuguero and we had to take boat to get to our hotel. On the boat, we saw lots of birds, lizards, a crocodiles on the tortuguero canal. Once we got to the hotel we had juice made with watermelon and papaya that was delicious! The hotel was very outdoorsy with bungalow style rooms and mosquito nets instead of windows.
For lunch we had bread, gallo pinto, beef, fried root vegetables, and juice. Then we took a boat into tortuguero village. There were lots of stray dogs everywhere, but they were nice. We had dragonfruit ice cream (which was delicious), and drank coconut water from an actual coconut. We also got to see the beach on the caribbean coast. It was gorgeous! Afterward we went to a sea turtle conservation exhibit and ate termites from a termite nest (although I couldn’t bring myself to partake in the latter). Dinner was fish, potatoes, and vegetables with fresh pineapple juice. There was no air conditioning at the hotel so it felt super humid, but it was so pretty there. The owner of the hotel was Italian who said that he planned to go to Costa Rica for 8 days, but ended up never going back (I think I understand why).
3.14.17. This morning, we woke up at 5:30. There was a tiny lizard in the shower! Breakfast was rice and beans with some type of sausage, bread, coffee, juice, fried bread, and lots of fruit (pineapple, mango, cantaloupe, papaya). But before breakfast, we went on a boat tour through the Tortuguero canal. We saw lots of birds and monkeys and lizards! One special bird that we saw was a scarlet macaw, which is supposed to be rare on the caribbean side of Costa Rica. We also saw toucans and herrings. Our tour guide’s name was Gill, and he added so much to the trip! He knew just about every plant an animal species that existed. I learned so much from him! It turned into a torrential down pour on our way back to the hotel (We got rained on in the rainforest, lol). After breakfast, we went on a hike. Some highlights were seeing poisonous dart frogs, and white face capuchin monkeys! Lunch was pasta with cream sauce/beef sauce. In the afternoon we went back to Tortuguero village and walked the “Jaguar Trail.” We saw some crabs by the shore, leaf-carrier ants, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, sloths, and “jesus christ” lizards. We met a man that carves turtles for a living and made these turtles right in front of us. He used to be a tour guide but decided that he didn’t want money to be a priority in his life, so he quit his job and moved to this village and sells turtles that he carves and lives day-by-day with the money that he makes. Despite not having a lot to live with, he seemed to be very content with his life. It was such a cool experience because it wasn’t a souvenir that you could buy in a store. I also got to try dragonfruit ice cream (delicious). dinner was rice and beans and chicken made with coconut water with vegetables and more juice.
3.15.17. Breakfast in Tortuguero was bread, rice and beans, fruit, and meat with juice. We took a boat ride to the bus and then drove to Sarapiqui. We made a few stops on the way. We saw spider monkeys on the side of the road, so we got out and watched them. I got to see a family of monkeys jump from tree to tree really close up! We also stopped and saw a banana plantation and a processing plant. We also stopped on the side of the road to see the biggest beetles in the world (literally). I held one on my arm and it was massive! Then we stopped at a shop and had ladyfinger bananas (aka, what bananas should look with like without hormones and chemicals), and also had an empanada! Lunch at the new hotel was rice and beans, chicken, plantains, and fried potatoes. Tried soursop fruit- the texture was interesting. After lunch, we went zip-lining! Dinner was pizza (which we ate on a banana leaf). Then we went on a night hike with flashlights and saw sloths, snakes, frogs, porcupines, spiders, bullet ants, and army ants. We also walked across a sketchy bridge that swung as we walked across, but the stars above us were beautiful.
3.16.17. Breakfast was rice and beans, sausage, pancakes, and fruit (watermelon, pineapple, and cantaloupe). Then we went on an organic pineapple farm tour. Before we got to the farm we got into a car accident! As we were turning, a truck behind us was going too fast, and rear-ended us. Our bus briefly tipped onto 2 wheels, which was scary because I was on the side of the bus that would’ve hit the ground first! Thankfully everyone was okay, and we had to walk towards the direction of the pineapple farm until a tractor from he farm came to rescue us (lol). During the tour, we got to try lots of fresh pineapple freshly picked from the plant and had piña coladas and pineapple upside-down cake afterward (which tasted like heaven, and that’s coming from someone who usually doesn’t like pineapple). Then we went rafting down Sarapiqui river. We stopped halfway and had more pineapple and watermelon (I probably had my weight in fruit at that point). After rafting we started driving towards La Fortuna. We stopped at an animal rescue center and saw lots of cool animals! Once we got to La Fortuna, we stopped at a hot springs area (Baldi Hot Springs Resort), and swam. The water comes from the volcano that was nearby.
3.17.17. Breakfast was fruit, gallo pinto, plantains, and pancakes. The first thing we did was go shopping in La Fortuna. I got some coffee gelato, some headbands, two coffee mugs, a Costa Rican cookbook, and some coffee to take home with me! Then we went on a chocolate tour! We saw cacao trees and saw how chocolate is made. I got to taste raw cacao, fermented and dehydrated cacao, cacao mixed with sugar, real hot chocolate, and then fresh melted chocolate! I had mine with almonds and sea salt and then coffee beans and sprinkles. Then we went straight to La Fortuna waterfall! We had to walk down (then back up) about 400 steps in the humidity. But the waterfall was beautiful! We took lots of pictures and then had lunch and swam a bit. The water was cold! Then we went to a supermarket and bought some treats for some kids at an orphanage. We only got to stay there for about 15 minutes to say hi to the kids. We also got a good view of the volcano. Then we went kayaking! It was definitely an arm workout! But the views were pretty. Dinner at the hotel was chicken fajitas, rice and beans, toast, asparagus soup, veggies, and chips. So good!
3.18.17. Today we left the Arenal/La Fortuna area and headed to Guanacaste. We stopped at a souvenir shop and a german bakery. At the shop I got a painting of an Iguana on a feather in a frame, (it sounds strange, but I always like to get something to have up on my wall when I travel), and at the german bakery three of us split a chocolate croissant, and it was delicious! Then a bit farther down the road we stopped at a place called Café and Macadamia, which was a combination of a souvenir shop and a restaurant. I got some more coffee there to take home! Then we drove the rest of the way to the Guanacaste/Liberia area of Costa Rica. We stopped at an area where we went horseback riding down to a hot springs area. But before we did that, we had a mini cooking class where we made empanadas, tanelas, and rosquillas. We also had a soap making class! Then we toured the livestock area and even got to milk a cow. It’s so crazy how i’ve lived in Oklahoma my entire life and the first cow i’ve ever milked was in Costa rica. Then we finally got to the horses and went on a 45 minute ride down to a hot springs area! When we got there we got into the sauna and sat for a while, then we got to put some special sulfur mud all over ourselves. After we waited for it to dry and washed it off we got to go into the actual hot springs! After we got to our hotel in Liberia we went to a bar and grill place with a dancing area and danced to a lot of Latino music!
3.19.20. Today we drove to Paolo Verde National Park and took a boat tour. This was probably my favorite boat tour that we took. We saw tons of birds, crocodiles, and iguanas, and most importantly, TONS of white faced capuchin monkeys! I honestly think they are my new favorite wild animal because they were so adorable. They came up super close to the boat and we even got to take pictures with them! Then for lunch we had rice, beans, some pretty amazing chicken, and juice. Desert was rice pudding. Then we went snorkeling on the beach of Guanacaste!! I had never been snorkeling before, and I have a moderate fear of the ocean, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Going into the water was scary to me, in all honestly. Prior to this, I had never been more than thigh-deep in the ocean. After I got used to it, it was pretty cool! The water was clear enough to be able to see the bottom. I saw lots of sea urchins and different kinds of fish. Apparently there were also star fish and sting rays, but I wasn’t able to see them (I must be bad at snorkeling, lol). Then everyone started getting stung by stuff in the water! We thought that they were some kind of baby, microscopic jellyfish. It didn’t hurt to bad but I definitely still have the marks a week later. After we were done snorkeling the boat took us to a private beach area where we had an hour to just chill out. It was pretty incredible. Since this was our last full day in Costa Rica, we went out that night. We went to a few bars and a casino (although it was a Sunday night, so everywhere was pretty dead). I bet a whole $4 at the casino since I was running out of money at this point (lost all of it too, it’s fine). Overall it was really fun and bittersweet since we had to leave the next day!
Costa Rica was absolutely incredible.
If you want to take a trip abroad, don’t overlook Central America! It’s absolutely gorgeous and there are tons of things you can do, not to mention the food. The local people are so nice and treat you like family! I get such an adrenaline rush when experiencing a different culture. It’s honestly one of my favorite things to do, even though I don’t get to do it too often. But going to Central America was never on the top of my list. Still, I took the opportunity when it was presented to me and I’m so glad I did! I can honestly say I left a part of my heart there and I have a much bigger appreciation for the importance and beauty of nature. I can’t wait to go back one day!