Let’s just start by saying that I had my first ever burrito in Costa Rica. Not sure if that’s embarrassing or awesome, but either way, I've never looked back.
Instead of the cliché resort experience for Spring Break, some college friends and I opted to fly to Central America for an unforgettable [budget] senior year experience.
We started in San Jose, but only stayed for one night; our group was too eager to get to the real Costa Rica. Our first stop: Monteverde. The bus we boarded seemed safe, the driver seemed competent, and the other people getting on appeared to be trusting of the ride ahead. Our experience, however, consisted of us thinking we were going to die at least six times. The driver followed the rocky road up and down mountains without slowing to head-on traffic as we took on hills as steep as roller coaster tracks.
Against all odds, we escaped the bus with our lives intact, puke buckets full, and eager to have a beer/refill our bellies. Our hostel was epic. Pension Santa Elena had the classic hostel feel with colorful hallways, backyard hammocks, and lofted bedrooms that mimicked tree houses.
Our first full day of adventuring included the famous Cloud Forest: hummingbird watching, wild animal spotting, and taking a million photos in the clouds. That night we went on a sloth hunt. We not only found slow-moving sloths (legit, I don’t think they even moved a little), but we also found sleeping toucans, massive ant colonies, and HORRIBLE TARANTULAS. I still can barely even look at the photos.
We couldn’t leave Costa Rica without zip-lining, so we all harnessed up and found a 17-track course through the rainforest. Some lines you would do alone, some you would do tandem, but I’ll never forget the sound (or lack there of) as you zipped along high above the trees. Absolutely a must if you ever visit Costa Rica.
A few days in the rainforest were great, but we were excited to make our way to the beaches down south. We chose to land in Manuel Antonio – where we had several exciting excursions and several days where we did absolutely nothing. Sunset kayaking, chasing monkeys who steal your passport on the beach, market shopping, dinner in an old plane restaurant overlooking the coastline, and beach bar-hopping at night. Not to mention, our hostel had a pool looking out on the nearby seaside, of which we took full advantage.
To wrap it up [like a burrito], Costa Rica is a place that completely embodies a zesty appreciation for the beauty of life. It makes sense that the country’s motto is “Pura Vida” – live a pure life. It’s a bucket-list-must kinda place.